Great Scenes… Mission: Impossible
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to watch this brilliant sequence from the first Mission: Impossible movie. And no, it’s not the bit where Tom Cruise suspends from a ceiling and catches a bead of sweat. It’s even better than that.
Mission: Impossible is a great action film. Interestingly, it is an action film with very few action sequences. Instead, it relies mainly on chewy dialogue, a number of twists and the star power of its leading man. Brian De Palma’s terrific spy thriller will always be remembered for its stunning break-in at CIA headquarters, but for my money, even it is trumped by this super scene where Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and Eugene Kittridge (Henry Czerny) go head-to-head in a Prague restaurant.
Hunt is smarting from the murder of his fellow team members earlier that night, and Kittridge thinks he has found the man responsible. As Hunt himself asks: ‘Who else is left?’ What could have been a stock conversation across a table (I’m looking at you, De Niro and Pacino) is elevated by some fantastically fun dialogue and the commitment of the two performers.
Cruise is a master of portraying paranoia and Czerny has a memorable way with words. Only he could get away with muttering about something as silly as ‘serious blowback in IMF operations’ and still retain the audience’s interest. Cruise holds his own, however, and ‘Kittridge, you’ve never seen me very upset’ is one of the actor’s great deliveries, better than ‘show me the money’ any day.
De Palma cranks up the tension with some nifty camera angles before an aquarium blast brings things to a thrillingly soaking conclusion. So what if it looks like someone threw a jug of water over The Cruiser (4m58)? It’s all part of the movie’s understated charm. Sometimes you don’t need huge explosions to have a great action movie, something Cruise himself forgot when he hired John Woo for the lame sequel. Sometimes all you need is two good actors spouting ludicrous and enjoyable dialogue at each other.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SCENE FROM MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE?