Mission: Impossible (1996) Directed by Brian De Palma
Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt and Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell (not pictured)

Luther: Look, uh, I just can’t hack my way inside. See, there’s no modem access to the mainframe. It’s in what we call the stand-alone… which means I’d have to be physically at the terminal.
Ethan: Relax Luther, it’s much worse than you think. The terminal is in a black vault lockdown. The only person allowed in the room has to pass through a series of security checks. The first is a voiceprint identification, then a six digit access code. This only gets him into the outer room. Next, he has to pass a retinal scan. And finally, the intrusion countermeasures are only deactivated by a double electronic keycard… which we won’t have. Now, inside the black vault, there are three systems operating whenever the technician is out of the room. The first is sound sensitive – anything above a whisper and it sets it off. The second system detects any increase in temperature – even the body heat of an unauthorized person in the room will trigger it if the temperature rises just a single degree. Now, that temperature is controlled by the air conditioning coming in through an overhead duct thirty feet above the floor. That vent is guarded by a laser net. The third system is on the floor and is pressure sensitive. The slightest increase in weight will trigger the alarm. And any one of these systems, if set off, will activate an automatic lockdown. Now, believe me when I tell you gentlemen, all three systems are state-of-the-art.
Luther: And you really think we can do this.
Ethan: We’re going to do it.

4 Responses to “Mission: Impossible (1996)”

  1. love this film. De Palma at his mainstream best. Thrilling, smart, expertly crafted film. Cruise at the height of his movie star days. Easily the best in the franchise (“Ghost Protocol” is 2nd. The others are unwatchable). The scene in the vault is done almost completely in silence! You know De Palma has directing chops when he’s confident he can construct a tight, suspenseful set piece using only the sounds of some deep breathing, a guy gripping a rope and a mouse running through a vent. This is a major Hollywood summer film. How many other directors would even consider doing it?

    This film was a huge hit, and yet I feel it’s very underrated as a work of cinema.

  2. I haven’t rewatched this one for ages, but it was a hell of a lot of fun and the vault scene is gangbusters even when you know how it turns out. It’s the most obvious moment of sustained suspense but the movie is filled with them.

    The screenplay at times seems pretty preposterous but I love that De Palma doesn’t seem to really care. It’s all just raw material and he has a blast with it.

  3. The closing helicopter-train sequence is so over-the-top that it always takes me out of the movie, but it’s also so well-orchestrated and insanely paced that I enjoy it anyway. This film remains by far the best of the four, and it primarily is about De Palma’s impeccable direction. Basically it’s a Bond film where Bond has to rely on a capable team, and this sequence is the epitome of that.

    And I love the twinkle in Cruise’s eye when he says “Relax Luther, it’s much worse than you think.” This is Cruise in one his best performances, and he really owns it.

  4. The effects on that scene don’t hold up too well either, but it worked for me. It’s over-the-toppedness is in keeping with the spirit of the rest of it.

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