Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

*** Contains Spoilers ***

*** (particularly at the start) ***

It may have been 13 years since I saw the trailer to this, but one line of dialogue has resolutely remained in my head, in some form, the whole time...

"This whole operation was a decoy!"

Hardly a smart plot-development to give-away in a trailer.

But, y'know, with a plot this complex, maybe making it that obvious actually helped.

I've said it so many times on here, but I'm still no good at following murder-mysteries, a fact which, strangely, may be one reason why I enjoyed this.

For without the necessary brain-power to take the plot apart and try to understand it, I was able to simply assume that everything worked, and believe that this story was indeed as intricate and cerebral as it appeared.

I guess it helped that there are some terrific action sequences in here. The whole silent progression of events when Hunt breaks-into the CIA had my full attention, as did the final mad helicopter / train chase through a tunnel. If my assumption about the plot was correct, then this film had cleverness and brainlessness in equal huge amounts.

There's a little bit of emotional depth that threatens to get in the way, but fortunately not much. Mission: Impossible is hardly a touchy-feely franchise. These guys just get on with their jobs as logically as they have to.

In tone, I found this surprisingly true to the original TV series too, especially the opening case (in which they unexpectedly turn-out to have been set-up). Even the dreadfully-conceived face-masks are retained for this.

However the inclusion of the TV show's longest-running lead character - Jim Phelps - is also the film's biggest clanger.

The original actor – Peter Graves – quite understandably refused to appear upon learning that after six TV series, he was to now turn evil and get killed-off. Incredibly, the film's producers somehow thought that Mission: Impossible's audience would disagree with him, and even went to the extent of casting a brand new actor in the same role.

Really – if they can change the morality of a lead character for whom we've rooted for so long, then we can hardly root for Tom Cruise's character either. He could likewise suddenly turn-out to be evil at any moment. Duh.

Even renaming the new Phelps character "Dan Briggs" (his predecessor from the very first season) would have been a more respectful solution.

Anyhew, the accidental benefit of this central howler is that it's very much up to the viewer whether this film counts as 'real' Misson: Impossible or not. If you do like it, then this is 'the' Jim Phelps, only played by a different actor, continuing the same role. If you don't like it, then the new actor clearly proves that this is a reboot, and can be dismissed as outside the main canon.

Me? Well I obviously didn't like Phelps' treatment, (as if you hadn't worked that out above) but I did like the rest of the movie. So, I'd really like to suppose that 'Jim Phelps' is simply the position's codename, which maybe several different agents have operated under...

(brief review of Mission: Impossible II here)
(brief review of Mission: Impossible III here)

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