This is a reworked version of the Mission: Impossible television theme song, which was originally composed by Lalo Schifrin and was known as the "Burning Fuse." Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen created the new version for the 1996 movie Mission: Impossible, the first in what became a franchise with Tom Cruise in the lead role. Clayton and Mullen wrote the piece for a chase scene in the film, but Mission: Impossible creator Bruce Geller decided to use it as the main theme.
Clayton and Mullen are the bass player and drummer, respectively, of U2. It was offered to U2 as a group, but Bono and The Edge did not have time to do it. The updated techno version changes the 5/4 time signature to a more club-friendly 4/4. Batman composer Danny Elfman, who re-scored the theme for the movie, told Entertainment Weekly: "A great bass line is a great bass line in any era. You can always do something fresh with it."
The success of this song prompted producers to have Limp Bizkit rework the theme for the movie's sequel in 2000. "Take A Look Around," a nu metal treatment based on the theme's classic riff, didn't make the Hot 100 but peaked at #3 in the UK.
Rather than rework the existing theme for the third installment, Kanye West wrote "Impossible" as an additional theme. The rest of the films in the series - Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation, and Fallout - didn't produce versions from contemporary artists.
This was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance, but lost to "The Sinister Minister" by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones.
The music video mixes shots of Clayton and Mullen mixed with footage from the film. It was directed by Kevin Godley, who did U2's videos for "Even Better Than The Real Thing" and "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me." In several scenes, the camera travels through backs of video monitors that display scenes from the film and related elements, including shots of Clayton and Mullen. These were done using a motion control camera, which let Godley shoot the same scene over and over with different footage in the monitors, then tweak it in post to get what he wanted in the screens. The process was rather painstaking. "A shot that maybe lasted 10 seconds in the finished video took about four hours to shoot," Godley told Songfacts. "Just the words "motion control" gives me f--king hives thinking about it."