Review: 'Mission: Impossible' sparks excitement at Lakes 12 Theatre

“Mission: Impossible” revives a classic TV series with a feature film adaptation in 1996. The action-spy movie franchise shows no signs of slowing down with five sequels in its nearly 25-year history, and it recently resumed production on a sixth with star Tom Cruise after the coronavirus pandemic forced a temporary hiatus.

A match is lit and is the iconic image of the title sequence of the "Mission: Impossible" film franchise. Photo by Devin Avery on

BAXTER — There’s no mistaking the pulse-pounding title sequence and theme music of any of the “Mission: Impossible” action-spy films once the fuse is lit and the familiar notes are played.

Almost as hard to believe as some of the plots of the various cinematic installments is the fact the venerable movie franchise spans almost a quarter of a century.

All of it began with the 1996 adaptation starring Tom Cruise that was directed by Brian De Palma, who knows how to direct a thriller with films like “Scarface” and “The Untouchables.”

“Mission: Impossible” the movie returns to the screen at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter this week along with Cruise’s breakout hit “Risky Business,” a comedy about a home-based brothel.

Cruise has never strayed far from the silver screen with his periodic “Mission: Impossible” releases following the success of the blockbuster that was based on a classic TV series.


The franchise shows no signs of slowing down with five sequels and recently resumed production on a sixth after a temporary hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Watching the first “Mission: Impossible” it’s impossible not to marvel at how the now 58-year-old actor has hardly aged and one can only admire his dedication to keeping himself in shape.

Running, jumping and fighting are all staples of the films along with McGuffin plots, international intrigue and a generous helping of technobabble that are part of the movie franchise’s DNA.

Audiences are introduced to the IMF task force, or Impossible Mission Force, a United States espionage agency composed of members tasked with risky and nearly impossible missions.

Cruise as “Ethan Hunt” and his crew’s mission — should his team leader, played by Jon Voight, choose to accept it — is to catch a traitor attempting to sell a list of secret agent identities.

Things don’t go according to plan, of course, in the PG-13 film which results in conflict and scenes of derring-do that are part of the successful recipe of the other movies in the franchise.

The coveted list of the actual identities of the spies is downloaded from a secure server at CIA headquarters in Langley and is one of the most memorable pieces of “Mission: Impossible.”

Cruise finagles his way into the heat-, pressure- and sound-sensitive room by dropping down from the ceiling in such a way that even a Cirque du Soleil performer would appreciate.


Frank Lee.jpg
Frank Lee

The talented cast features Vanessa Redgrave as an arms dealer and the intended buyer of the disc and Henry Czerny in a juicy role as the IMF director intent on apprehending a rogue Hunt.

Hunt has other intentions, however, besides clearing his name after apparently being framed for the failure of his original mission. He plans to turn the tables and ferret out the agency mole.

The scenes between the young Cruise and the older Redgrave crackle with energy as they play a cat-and-mouse game with deadly consequences.

Czerny turns in a performance that would be envied by the fictitious French police inspector Javert of “Les Misérables” — or Tommy Lee Jones, as a senior deputy U.S. marshal in “The Fugitive” on the trail of Harrison Ford’s titular character in the 1993 movie adaptation.

Fans of the CBS TV series that ran from 1966 to 1973 and featured Peter Graves will recognize in the motion pictures the gimmick of self-destructing instructions left for the IMF team leader.

Voight’s “Jim Phelps” is the only character from the TV series to appear in the movie, but he plays a pivotal role in the machinations despite being absent from large parts of the film.


The daredevil stunts have only seemed to be amped up in subsequent installments in the franchise, especially after J.J. Abrams became involved in the sequels.

Cruise climbed to the top of Dubai, United Arab Emirates’ sky-rise Burj Khalifa tower — the tallest building in the world — in the 2011 sequel and strapped himself to the outside of an airplane during takeoff in the 2015 sequel.

Abrams is known for the ABC TV series “Lost” but has successfully helmed many Hollywood productions, including those in the “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” cinematic universe.

Some of the computer technology used in “Mission: Impossible” seems downright laughable and maybe a bit of unintended comedy, to be sure, in this age of broadband and smartphones.

Other advances in espionage technology depicted in the film seem almost prescient in a Google Glass-type eyewear kind of way with its built-in camera and in-lens visual display.

But moviegoers don’t have to appreciate how far technology has come today to enjoy the action set pieces, the double-crosses and third-act reveals in “Mission: Impossible.”

The adventure continues with “Mission: Impossible 2” by Hong Kong action director John Woo, which begins playing at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter starting Friday, Aug. 7.

Lakes 12 Theatre’s ticket admission price of $5 for all showings of its blockbuster hits from yesteryear make it a great value for crowd-pleasing entertainment or a bargain at any price.


FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at . Follow him on Twitter at .

I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write mostly features stories for the Wadena Pioneer Journal. The newspaper is owned by Forum Communications Co.
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