The Spy Who Left Me Cold

Maybe MI's concept is simply dated. Certainly, the idea that there's a dark side to intelligence work is no longer a subversive one, and the end of the Cold War, as the film tries to acknowledge, has given spy fiction a certain halfheartedness. But on occasion, this Mission: Impossible comes to life in a way that suggests its potential to translate to today. One of these occasions is the smashingly tense, funny sequence in which Cruise and Reno raid a superalarmed computer room at CIA headquarters--it's both pure MI and pure De Palma.

The others are the brief scenes involving Vanessa Redgrave as a villainess who wants Cruise to sell her something called a "Noc-list" (it sounded to me as if the MacGuffin they were chasing from Prague to D.C. to London was a "knockwurst"). He's warned that she's a master of making agents into turncoats, and when we meet Redgrave, it's no wonder--as usual, the actress is a flirt supreme. Saying no to her would seem far too high a price to pay for loyalty to one's country.

Mission: Impossible:
Directed by Brian De Palma; with Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Beart, Jean Reno and Kristin Scott-Thomas.


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