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Favourite quote today, from Andre Gide: "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass."

Review: Mission Impossible

Tom Cruise always looks too wholesome and well-groomed for action movies.  That clean-cut college boy style made for perfect casting in The Firm, contrasting well with the husky-voiced heavy-set mafiosi-overcoated fellow lawyers who were undoubtedly up to no good.  In Mission Impossible, however, it doesn’t quite fit.

Careful make-up, spray-tamed hairstyles and boy-next-door looks sit uncomfortably surrounded by death-defying stunts which are, in the best tradition of action movies, exceptionally well executed and totally unbelievable.  The wind machine in the Channel Tunnel set was so effective I was holding on to my own hair at one point.

When Jon Voight, Kristin Scott Thomas and Emanuelle Beart are all killed off in the first ten minutes, you know that there is a double bluff in there somewhere.  These are A-list film stars, after all, and Cruise is also joint executive producer so he’s a busy man in this flick: can’t carry all the action himself.  Needs at least one co-star.

Jon Voight looks the same dead, alive or badly injured.  Kristin Scott Thomas is never seen again so she must really have been killed off.  Emanuelle Beart’s ‘death’ was particularly unconvincing so you expect her to be back before long, and she is.

As a glossy travelogue for Prague, the film works beautifully, taking full advantage of the world-renowned architecture and bridges to create stunning backdrops.  The crew must have spent all their days waiting for sunset – but it’s worth it.

Oh yes, the plot.  Does it need one?  The mission, which of course we choose to accept, is a convoluted story of betrayal and counter-betrayal within the intelligence service, where Tom Cruise is innocent because he looks it and the baddies are just as obvious.  The delicious setting of Prague is interwoven with stunning footage of a helicopter trapped in the Channel Tunnel entangled with a speeding train and Voight (alive, almost) and Cruise (hair ruffled, almost).

The odd Biblical theme is thrown in too, but updated.  Cruise is seen emailing quotes from the Book of Job.  The Bible meets the World Wide Web.  The past confronts the future.  The dead become the undead.  Anyone for popcorn?

Vanessa Redgrave puts in a languid cameo performance as the arch-villain or arch-insider – or just arch – Max, with strikingly disconcerting dark hair.

If you’ve never been to Prague, keep focused on the backgrounds and you’ll be booking your ticket.  After the Channel Tunnel stunt, you’ll be pleased you don’t need to cross that sea to get there and you’ll certainly never go by helicopter again.  Apart from that, this film passes the time amiably but if you go out to put the kettle on, you’ll still be able to keep up.  Undemanding, easy on the eye, well-presented, enjoy the scenery – did someone say Tom Cruise?

 

 

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