By Randy White,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Sensational, implausible, violent: Irresistible to teens.
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. While trust is fragile and precious, even the most steadfast of allies may be corruptible.
Positive Role Models
The dashing hero is willing to risk his career, his good name, and his life to uncover treachery and obtain justice for his fallen friends. He is unrelenting in his honesty, his loyalty, and his service to his country. His superiors in the IMF seem slow-witted and inefficient much of the time.
Violence & Scariness
Frequent action and lots of suspense. A series of attacks finds a team of agents killed early in the film by: a rigged elevator, a 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. There are numerous fights, which include punches, slaps to the head, knife fights, and gunfire (one woman is shot to death). A lengthy final sequence takes place atop a speeding train, with a helicopter chasing it and includes men jumping, falling, sliding, and hanging over the side of the train. There are some brief bloody images (hands, shirt, clothes), but in most instances deaths happen just after the camera cuts away or in wide shots, and are not graphic or gruesome.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
An agent pats down a woman suspect, briefly touches her breasts. A few kisses and embraces.
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Infrequent language inludes: "hell," "son of a bitch," "ass," "goddamn," and "for Christ's sake."
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Products & Purchases
Diet Coke, British Airways. Dunhill cigarettes and Chicago’s Drake Hotel are mentioned in conversation and serve as plot elements. Some merchandising and heavy marketing for this series of films.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mission: Impossible is an action-packed, suspense-filled film that will appeal to adults and some teens, with lots of fighting, danger, and characters killed in unusual ways. There are some bloody visuals: clothes, hands, knifings, and a woman shot to death. Still, much of the violence is suggested rather than shown either using wide shots or with the camera cutting away before a grisly death actually happens. Adventurous stunts include daring fights and chases along with explosions, flooding, crashes through glass, a helicopter in pursuit of a high speed train with men fighting atop it, and a death-defying burglary of an impregnable security installation. The film contains occasional mild cursing, some smoking and drinking, a few drugs administered to subdue those who may be a threat, and a hint of a possible sexual indiscretion.
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What's the Story?
The big-screen MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE may not have the campy sensibility of its TV predecessor (which ran from 1966-1973), but it generates plenty of nail-biting suspense while capturing the overall spirit of the spy genre, complete with really cool high-tech gadgets. The setting is Prague, behind the old Iron Curtain, when the lives of Eastern European operatives are at risk. When a mission goes horribly wrong, secret agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is marked as a mole and hunted by the CIA. Now a fugitive, Hunt must track down the true double agent and a computer disk in order to clear his name.
Is It Any Good?
The Cold War may be over, but the spy genre is alive and well in Tom Cruise and director Brian De Palma's sometimes confusing and implausible thriller. Still, Mission: Impossible has great sets, requisite turncoat agents, high tech espionage, and three thrilling action sequences that will keep action-crazy adolescents on the edge of their seats. The movie unfortunately foregoes plot coherence and plausibility in favor of sensationally shot break-ins 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 stars (Jon Voigt, Emilio Estevez, Kristin Scott Thomas) in the introductory sequence. De Palma also does a fine job of creating an atmosphere of suspicion; nobody with whom Tom Cruise comes into contact is completely trustworthy. And the action sequences -- in particular the helicopter in the Chunnel -- are some of the best Hollywood has to offer.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Mission: Impossible's themes of death, self-sacrafice and patriotism. What level of each does each family member believe is appropriate? What would you give up -- how much would you place your life in peril -- for what you believe in?
What makes watching action and violence compelling? When does it go too far?
- In theaters: November 12, 1996
- On DVD or streaming: November 12, 1996
- Cast: Jon Voight, Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Cruise
- Director: Brian De Palma
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic intensity
- Last updated: June 2, 2023
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