American agent of the Impossible Mission Force IMF, Ethan Hunt retrieves a hidden tape recorder in an envelope containing photos and some vital ‘need to know’ basis information describing a secret mission to be carried out. He plays the tape recorder. At the conclusion the voice message says, “This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Hunt.” Smoke then rises from the recorder as the tape is automatically destroyed.
Above is a typical Mission Impossible scenario that has been brought forward by the producers since commencing of the original TV series in 1966 to the mind boggling films by the same title featuring Hollywood idol Tom Cruise came into being in 1996.
After television was introduced to Sri Lanka in 1979 ‘Mission Impossible’ TV series took the viewers by storm. The black and white TV series having a team of five agents comprising a blond, a gadget-man and a macho man with Ethen Hunt in the lead captured attention of the viewers back then.
Cultural impact and evolution
Even in this original TV series of 1966-71 it was astonishing to see the IMF team time and again using Hologram to create ghosts to mislead the badass. The plots revolved around upsetting hostile governments, dictators in third world countries, corrupt business tycoons and crime lords. The original music scores which is the bloodline of the story were handled by Lalo Schifrin. It is still being used in the movie franchise not only for nostalgia’s sake but also as a Marketing tactic.
Though it was aired within Sri Lanka alongside popular detective series, ‘Mannix’ and the American western ‘Bearcats’, Mission Impossible had its grip solidly catering to a more mature audience who watched late-night movies on TV.
The TV series created by Bruce Geller cast popular actors; Steven Hill, Barbara Bain, Greg Morris, Peter Lupus, Peter Graves and Martin Landau. It was revived in 1988 for two seasons in colour with legendary Leonard Nimoy joining the bandwagon. In 1996 it paved way for the motion picture series by the same name starring Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt. From the inception Tom Cruise concentrated on portraying a credible Ethen Hunt in the movie franchise. He was neither James Bond nor Indiana Jones in the film but a unique IMF agent. With this distinctive performance he made a loyal customer base via the movie.
Tom Cruise first appeared in a small part in the 1981 film ‘Endless Love’ that had the evergreen theme song, ‘My Love …there’s only you in my life’ sung by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross. ‘Interview with the Vampire’ and ‘Top Gun’ films made Cruise an actor to reckon with. Born in 1962 the 61-year-old actor still maintains a perfect physique and lately has made a passion towards doing the stunts by himself in Mission Impossible films without using a double.
The creators of the movie franchise with a view to maintaining the originality aspect bequeathed a 1960s touch to the movies. Cruise’s self-performed action sequences too perfectly blended with this idea of maintaining originality and credibility of the creations. Even in the latest Mission Impossible movie; ‘Dead Reckoning -Part One’ this attribute is maintained. With highly sophisticated scientific inventions and gadgets, actual combat is also being used to strike a balance. Cruise wears traditional American attire all the time.
Thrilling feats and techno-thriller plot
Tom Cruise’s performance in ‘The Dead Reckoning -Part One’ is sheer magic. One would wonder how a man of 61 could muster energy to do his own stunts. As has been the practice, a marathon-like running sequence is also included in the movie which clearly shows Cruise’s physical agility.
The movie tells a story about artificial intelligence-AI and signifies what damage it can cause in military battles and politics in coming years. A sophisticated Russian submarine employs an advanced AI for testing a new navigation system that uses dead reckoning. The AI tricks the crew into firing a torpedo and then turns the torpedo back on the submarine, sinking it and killing all aboard. World powers compete to obtain the key to protect their national security and control the entity, though the exact means of controlling it are unknown. Believing the entity hold too great a threat to humanity, Ethan seeks to destroy it. In the process he and his team wreak havoc within the circles making the enemy stagger.
The movie is in abundance of jaw dropping scenes. The train crash towards the end of the story would make the audience feel they are part and parcel of it or that they are having a simulator experience. The highlight of the movie is Tom Cruse’s real life stunt with the motorbike. The death-defying motorbike stunt included in the film was used in marketing prior to releasing the movie and it paid dividends.