A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
I'm not sure I could pass a test on the plot of "Mission: Impossible." My consolation is that the screenwriters probably couldn't, either. The story is a nearly impenetrable labyrinth of post-Cold War double-dealing, but the details hardly matter; it's all a set-up for sensational chase sequences and a delicate computer theft operation, intercut with that most reliable of spy movie standbys, the midnight rendezvous under a street lamp in a chilly foreign capital.
Tom Cruise stars as Ethan Hunt, professional spy, whose assignment, which he chooses to accept, is to prevent the theft of a computer file containing the code names and real identities of all of America's double agents. It's not enough to simply stop the guy; Cruise and his team (also including Jon Voight, Kristen Scott-Thomas and Emmanuelle Beart) are asked to photograph the enemy in the act of stealing the information, and then follow him until he passes it along. This process involves a check list of Cold War spycraft and cliches: Eye glasses with built-in TV cameras, concealed microphones, laptop computers, agents in elaborate disguise, exploding cars, knifings, shootings, bodies toppling into a river, etc. Of course the whole sequence centers around a diplomatic reception in Prague.
Because "Mission: Impossible" was directed by Brian De Palma, a master of genre thrillers and sly Hitchcockian wit ("Blow Out," "Body Double"), it's a nearly impossible mission to take the plot seriously.
He is more concerned with style than story, which is wise, since if this movie ever paused to explain itself it would take a very long time.