It took me about a decade to come around to accepting that Brian De Palma’s Mission: Impossible is actually quite a good spy movie. And twice that long to recognize that it’s even a pretty good Mission: Impossible movie. But when I first saw it in the theater my senior year of high school, I was just so incensed at the audacity of its major twist that I hated it for years. That twist (which I’m assuming is a spoiler to no one after 22 years) was making Jim Phelps, the hero of the TV show, the villain of the film. Granted, I had never even seen an episode of the classic 1966-73 series at that point, but I had seen and enjoyed episodes of the 1988-90 revival series, which also starred the great Peter Graves as team leader Jim Phelps. And I found the idea of making Phelps a traitor (even in the guise of a different actor) offensive and entirely unpalatable. And it still is, honestly, but as the subsequent film series has, over the years, both forged its own identity and simultaneously become more respectful of the TV series that spawned it (with direct references aplenty in 2011’s Ghost Protocol and 2015’s Rogue Nation), I’ve grown thicker skin as a fan. And the fact that in the film Phelps is played by the reptilian and generally charmless Jon Voight instead of the unflinchingly, endearingly earnest Graves definitely makes it easier to separate the two Phelpses. (I still wish, however, that one of the movies would include a cameo from a surviving star of the TV show reprising their role and explaining that somehow the Phelps who mentored Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt was not the same Phelps they knew and worked with. J.J. Abrams opened the door to such a possibility in 2009 when he suggested Graves himself might cameo in the next movie, but sadly the actor passed away before he had the chance to do that and rehabilitate his character.)
TV Moments: The firefighter disguises from "Memory," the opening credits, lots of mask business
Dangling: The definitive Hunt Dangle—right out of Topkapi
Rogue Agents: Phelps and his associates
Rogue Ethan: Ethan goes on the run when Kittridge accuses him of being the mole
Fashion Alert: One attribute Voight's Phelps shares with Graves is a fashion sense that dates somewhat poorly. It mostly comes through in his hair, which seems an odd length and cut for a secret agent.
Read my review of M:I-2 (2000) here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Seventh TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Sixth TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Fourth TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Third TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Second TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The First TV Season here.