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This was Cruise's last movie as an angst-ridden youth (next stop was Jerry Maguire and the trials of family life) and he presents Ethan Hunt as caught between his heroic physical prowess and a trusting emotional naïvety that is painfully punctured by the treachery of those around him. Hollywood heavyweights Jon Voight (Heat) and Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction) are both excellent in support, while the remaining cast reads like an identikit of European cinema, including Emanuelle Beart, Kristin Scott Thomas and Jean Reno (Leon).
De Palma's trademark set-pieces include a giant exploding fishtank in Prague, a helicopter chase through the Channel Tunnel, and, most notably, a break-in to steal a vital disc from CIA headquarters in Langley. The moment in the latter when, in almost complete silence, Cruise dangles precariously from a cable and just catches a bead of sweat before it triggers the floor alarm is as sublimely exhilarating as any in American movies of the last 10 years.
On the DVD: Aside from basic language and chapter selection the disc is devoid of any extras, leaving us to wait for the behind-the-scenes story of the numerous rewrites and wrangling that reportedly beset production. On a more positive note, the picture and sound quality fully realise the film's highly stylised surface beauty and effects-laden kinetic energy. --Steve Napleton
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