top of page

Mission: Impossible Themes


I am halfway through watching Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning, Part I.


I try not to break up watching movies, especially good ones (this one is good), but when I realized it’s Part I and won’t have an ending anyway, I thought, why not?


I don’t want to write about it—yet—except to say how delighted I am at the prominent use of Lalo Schifrin’s main themes: the “Mission” theme (main title) and “The Plot.” This has been the case throughout the film series, but it seems to have only grown.


It seems like in most cases when a movie is made from an old TV show (I don’t have the wherewithal to make a list), the theme just doesn’t have the right tone to apply to the underscore. At best, it’s relegated to the credits or a kind of cameo where it inevitably sticks out and reminds you you’re watching a movie made from some corny old show.


Not so here. Lalo’s themes are all over Lorne Balfe’s score, and you could say, they are the score. They work big, they work small—in a few notes or through an entire scene—and they seem totally topical and contemporary and very, very “now.”


For a theme and pilot score written almost 60 years ago, that’s quite an accomplishment. And great work by Balfe to make Lalo’s themes feel so fresh and timeless.

162 views8 comments

Recent Posts

See All

8 commentaires


The Plot got used a few times in M:I, but was not very recognizable as reworked through Elfman's sensibilities.


Bofh themes have been used more and more with each movie, but only Giacchino got close to placing them properly in the narrative.


The Plot and The M:I Main Title were written to drive suspense and action, and were regularly reworked ep to ep over the seasons.

There's nothing dated about either piece, and both stand up well to whatever reworking a composer can put to it.

Schifrin hit pure music gold with these themes. I never tire of hearing them.

J'aime

Robert Knaus
Robert Knaus
23 févr.

Shame that Balfe's pair of M:I scores are so plodding and leaden, the exact opposite of Christopher McQuarrie's nimble filmmaking. And McQ had his usual composer, Joe Kraemer, in for Rogue Nation! It had to have been a studio imposition ("Get a Zimmer Guy in there...!").

J'aime
Lukas Kendall
Lukas Kendall
23 févr.
En réponse à

It was McQuarrie's decision after Rogue Nation to jettison many of his longtime collaborators, including Joe Kraemer. (Joe is a friend and a really good composer and I don't want to get into it via the comments on my blog.)

J'aime

Rick Neely
Rick Neely
22 févr.

Watching older seasons of Fargo on Hulu, and the use of Carter Burwell’s movie theme at one point in an episode is exactly like the point you’re making.

J'aime

jcmanuceau
jcmanuceau
22 févr.

I totally agree with you about the music. But I'm quite surprised that you didn't see this one in a theater, where it's best enjoyed. Don't want to go to the movies anymore ?

J'aime
Robert Knaus
Robert Knaus
23 févr.
En réponse à


J'aime
bottom of page