Twenty minutes into this big-budget update of the '70s spy series, half the cast has been wiped out, and Cruise's Ethan Hunt has been "disavowed" by his employers, the CIA. To clear his name and avenge the death of his mentor Jim Phelps (Voight), Hunt assembles a crew of rogue agents to break in to CIA headquarters, playing a precarious double game with breathless self-assurance. Mission: Impenetrable: a bewildering, ludicrous, but mostly fun, sometimes even smart postscript to a genre that went out of fashion with the Cold War. There's more and less here than meets the eye. More, because De Palma, the cinematographer and the screenwriters have concocted an elaborate series of conceits and deceits, masks and trompe l'oeils, which slyly undermine the paranoid imperatives of the original series—and, indeed, the Cold War itself. Less, because De Palma is the most hermetic of American film-makers; combine that with the pressure to deliver a mainstream blockbuster and you've got a recipe for superficiality. Despite the snags, De Palma remains a virtuoso puppet-master, pulling the strings taut in a nail-biting robbery sequence, switching from micro to macro with Hitchcockian panache, and finally letting rip with a hell-for-leather climax.
Cast and crew