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The Mission

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United Kingdom, France · 1986
Rated PG · 2h 6m
Director Roland Joffé
Starring Robert De Niro, Jeremy Irons, Ray McAnally, Aidan Quinn
Genre Adventure, Drama, Action, History

When a Spanish Jesuit goes into the South American wilderness to build a mission in the hope of converting the Indians of the region, a slave hunter is converted and joins his mission. When Spain sells the colony to Portugal, they are forced to defend all they have built against the Portugese aggressors.

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What are critics saying?


Variety by

The script is based on a little-known but nonetheless intriguing historical incident in mid-18th century South America, pitting avaricious colonialists against the Jesuit order of priests. The fundamental problem is that the script is cardboard thin, pinning labels on its characters and arbitrarily shoving them into stances to make plot points.


Empire by Ian Nathan

Passionate performances from De Niro and Jeremy Irons in this stark but thematically complex historical drama.


ReelViews by James Berardinelli

The Mission is beautiful to look at, features impeccable period and setting detail, and offers a fascinating and tragic backstory, but it falls short in many simple human qualities. Overall, it's an impressive motion picture, but lacks the epic greatness sometimes associated with it.


Washington Post by Paul Attanasio

The Mission is everything a movie should be -- magnificently produced, epic in scope, serious in theme -- everything, that is, but good. Hamstrung by an unworkable script, the disastrous casting of Robert De Niro and, presumably, the strain of shooting in the Colombian jungle, director Roland Joffe' has come up with an indigestible lump of sanctimony that rarely goes beyond its good intentions.


Washington Post by Rita Kempley

The Mission is majestic, sometimes moving, sometimes mawkish. Should you choose to accept it, your religious tolerance will be tested. But there are rewards -- fascinating insights into the byzantine business of diplomacy and gorgeous photography of the roaring Iguazu Falls, an eden of fog and roaring water, and of the sleepy walled city of Cartagena.


Chicago Sun-Times by Roger Ebert

All that was needed to pull these elements together was a structure that would clearly define who the characters were, what they stood for and why we should care about them. Unfortunately, that is all that is missing.


The New York Times by Vincent Canby

A singularly lumpy sort of movie. The film's most riveting sequence comes at the very beginning, when we see a crucified Jesuit missionary being tossed - cross and all - into the river and carried over the spectacular Iguassu Falls. Nothing that follows, including more pretty scenery and quaint costumes, comes close to equaling the drama of that one sequence - about a character who remains forever anonymous.

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