A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
In the fight between good and evil, honesty, integrity, and bravery prevail. Trust is precious, but it's fragile, and even the most steadfast of allies are corruptible.
Positive Role Models
Ethan is willing to risk his career, reputation, and life to uncover treachery and get justice for his fallen friends -- even if that means breaking the rules and ignoring direct orders. Luther is one of the rare associates that Ethan can trust. Otherwise, most characters have ulterior motives and are easily tricked.
Ethan's initial team of six agents is gender-balanced, but the film quickly focuses on its White male hero as the lone renegade among untrustworthy players -- almost all of them also White men. The only associate Ethan can trust is Luther, a Black man who has a shallow but positive role as an elite hacker. The main female character (who's White) is portrayed as manipulative.
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Violence & Scariness
Frequent action and suspense. A series of attacks kills a team of agents early in the film: A rigged elevator impales an agent in the face, and there's a bloody gunshot and fall from a bridge, a double knifing, and an exploding car. A restaurant is blown up and flooded; a man crashes through a window and escapes. Several fights include punches, slaps to the head, knife fights, and gunfire (one woman is shot to death). A long sequence takes place atop a speeding train, with a helicopter chasing it and men jumping, falling, sliding, and hanging over the side of the train. Brief bloody images (hands, shirt, clothes), but deaths usually happen just after the camera cuts away or in wide shots and aren't graphic or gruesome. In one scene, Ethan forcibly pats down a woman without her consent, briefly grabbing her breasts before pressing her into a bed as he holds her wrists down.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters embrace against a wall as a ruse, kissing on the cheek. Ethan is accused of coveting another man's wife. An agent forcibly pats down a woman -- it's portrayed as sexual tension but isn't consensual. (See Violence & Scariness section for more details.)
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Infrequent language includes "hell," "son of a bitch," "ass," "goddamn," "for Christ's sake," and "crap."
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Products & Purchases
Diet Coke, British Airways brands seen. Dunhill cigarettes and Chicago's Drake Hotel are mentioned in conversation and serve as plot elements. Some merchandising and heavy marketing for this franchise.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters smoke cigarettes. Close-up on a needle with an unknown drug being injected into an arm. A bottle of liquor sits on a table. A minor character is drugged -- vomiting is heard -- so that agents can infiltrate a room.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mission: Impossible is the first film in the popular action spy series starring Tom Cruise. Expect lots of fighting, danger, and characters killed in unusual ways, with blood appearing on clothes, hands, and knives and a couple of characters getting shot to death. There are also explosions, flooding, crashes through glass, a helicopter in pursuit of a high-speed train, and other moments of peril. In one scene, the main character forcibly pats down a woman without her consent, briefly grabbing her breasts before pressing her into a bed as he holds her wrists down. Infrequent language includes "hell," "son of a bitch," "ass," "goddamn," etc. Characters smoke, alcohol is visible on a table, and drugs are used to subdue others. Agents embrace and pretend to kiss as a ruse. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The Cold War may be over, but the spy genre is alive and well in Cruise and director Brian De Palma's thriller. It's sometimes confusing and implausible, but Mission: Impossible still has great production values, tense high-tech espionage, and three thrilling set pieces that will keep action lovers on the edge of their seats. The movie unfortunately forgoes plot coherence in favor of flashy scenes and escapes. (The CIA headquarters break-in, while exhilarating, is particularly dubious.)
Mission: Impossible certainly has a great opening, breaking the rules of the Hollywood thriller by (seemingly) killing off most of its stars (Jon Voight, Emilio Estevez, Kristin Scott Thomas) right off the bat. De Palma also does a fine job of creating an atmosphere of suspicion; nobody with whom Ethan comes into contact is completely trustworthy. And the action sequences -- especially the helicopter in the Chunnel -- are some of the best Hollywood has to offer.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.