A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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 22, 2020
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