The Mission (1986) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Mission1986

The Mission (1986)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Mission Photos

Movie Info

In director Roland Joffe's historical epic The Mission, Jeremy Irons stars as Gabriel, an 18th-century Jesuit priest sent to the jungles of Brazil to build a Guarani Indian mission. Upon his arrival, Gabriel meets the slave trader Mendoza (Robert De Niro), a cruel, bloodless man who kills as many of the Guaranis as he enslaves. His brother Felipe (Aidan Quinn) is another of his victims, killed in a duel over a woman. Because of Mendoza's aristocratic background, he cannot be tried for his crimes; however, the weight of his conscience inspires him to ask Gabriel for the opportunity to do penance at the mission. When Spain sells Brazil to Portugal, the two very different men must join together to defend the mission against aggressors.

Watch it now


Jeremy Irons
as Gabriel
Ray McAnally
as Altamirano
Liam Neeson
as Fielding
Cherie Lunghi
as Carlotta
Bercelio Moya
as Indian Boy
Sigifredo Ismare
as Witch Doctor
Asuncion Ontiveros
as Indian chief
Alejandrino Moya
as Chief's Lieutenant
Rolf Gray
as Young Jesuit
Tony Lawn
as Fr. Provincial
Joe Daly
as Nobleman
Carlos Duplat
as Portuguese Commander
Rafael Camerano
as Spanish commander
Maria Teresa Ripoll
as Carlotta's Maid
View All

News & Interviews for The Mission

Critic Reviews for The Mission

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (7)

The two principal actors, Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons, work hard to animate their parts. But there is little to do. The Mission is probably the first film in which De Niro gives a bland, uninteresting performance.

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

The Mission manages to be both magnificent and curiously uninvolving, a buddy movie played in soutanes.

February 9, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

A singularly lumpy sort of movie.

May 20, 2003

"The Mission" is everything a movie should be -- magnificently produced, epic in scope, serious in theme -- everything, that is, but good.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

"The Mission" effectively dramatizes yet another chapter in the ruthless European conquest of the Americas. It'll make you hate the whole of western civilization with every fiber of your being.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

The film is an exposé of a time when Western cinema was struggling to film stories of indigenous peoples in modes other than unintentionally stereotypical and condescending.

November 10, 2018 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Mission

A remarkable and profoundly moving drama about redemption and the transforming power of love, not only visually stunning and boasting a wonderful Ennio Morricone score but also with Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons carrying the film in two outstanding performances.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Moving and beautiful. The Mission, with a great direction and majestic score of the master Morricone, make this film an unforgettable powerful piece of work in seventh art.

Lucas Martins
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

Based on actual events, this film, despite being a little erratic and flawed, is still a pretty good look at a fascinating subject. The story concerns a group of Jesuits working with the Guarani tribe in South America during the 1750s who get caught up in the socio-political machinations of imperialism of the powers that be back in Europe. The leader of the order (Irons) is a pacifist who unwaveringly believes in love, peace, and the belief that his ways are best. Another, a convert into the order (De Niro) is a reformed sinner trying to right his wrongs. As a former mercenary and slave driver, he feels that violence is justified if it can be used to save what they had been working towards. The film works best as a big picture study versus a character piece. Besides the socio-political machinations, and the story of the Jesuits within this historical context, the big thmes of the film are of faith, suffering, and the human condition. There's a lot to really like (if not love) here, but there's also a lot that could have been far better. Ennio Morricone's score and Chris Menges's cinematography are both powerful and absolutely gorgeous. The attention to period detail, historical context, and authenticity of the casting of many Natives are also very strong and inspired. What's not so good are the way the individual character stories and character development are handled, as well as some of the inauthentic castings for the European characters. Despite some iffy casting choices, the performances are oddly interesting. I wanted some better development with the views of De Niro's and Irons's characters, as weel as some more convicing development of De Niro's character's motivations, but I still kinda dug what they were doing, regardless. It's also kinda neat to see Liam Neeson and Aidan Quinn early on in their respective careers. As a Catholic (albeit slightly lapsed) myself, and someone who is really close to a histroian who wrote a book on the Jesuits, I should have really, really enjoyed, if not loved this film. I do like the way the Jesuits are handled, and am happy they put it into a historical context. I also liked that the film's conclusion, though a downer, is the way it is, and that it wasn't given the Hollywood treatment. However, I can't feel justified in giving this a higher score based on the issues i've elaborated one. Do I still like this film and recommend it? Oh yeah. It's some good stuff, even if it is rather odd, and all over the place at times. Perhaps if I watched it some more times I might find my current views in need of changing, but, as it is, this is just a really good film, instead of the great piece of art it could have been.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

The Mission Quotes

News & Features