Your Mission if You Choose to Accept It

by Alan Rapp on May 5, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Mission: Impossible III
  • IMDB: link

mission-impossible-3-posterI wasn’t a fan of the first film, but enjoyed Mission: Impossible II for its style and big stunts (and the delectable Thandie Newton), but this film finally is what I’ve been waiting for from the franchise.  Big elaborate stunts, a comprehensible plot, a bad-ass villain, and a team of IMF agents working together doing their jobs (and not all killed off in the first ten minutes) this is the Mission: Impossible I’ve been waiting for.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has given up active assignments for the IMF and now trains recruits and spends time with his fiance Julia (Michelle Monaghan) who doesn’t know what he really does for a living.  Hunt is finally happy and at peace until a friend from the IMF (Billy Crudup) contacts him and tells him his star pupil (Keri Russell) has been taken hostage.  Hunt returns to the field with his team (Ving Rhames, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and Maggie Q) for a rescue mission.

The fallout of the rescue attempt leads Hunt to go after the man responsible a notorious arms dealer with severe delusions of grandeur – Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman).  The attempt includes a break-in of the Vatican and some great special effect work on how the IMF masks are created and put on.  Davian and his deadly weapon are taken but he escapes with the help of someone in agency and decides to go after Hunt by kidnapping Julia and blackmails Hunt into retrieving the weapon.

As a first time feature director J.J. Abrams does a good job here of keeping the pace and action of the film exciting without lulls or dead spots (not too shabby for a two-hour film).  The film’s huge heist/break-in stunts continue to try and one-up the versions from the previous films and both work well in their own way.  Some of the actions scenes do get a little herky-jerky with hand-held cameras and cut-together in such a way that makes it difficult to actually veiw what is going on while others turn out fine – a sign of a director growing into the big chair.

Unlike the previous two, this film succeeds in using the whole team and giving them more to do then simply show up when dialogue is needed and disappear when Cruise does his stunts.  Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Maggie Q have some good scenes together and Rhames easily falls back into the role of Luther.  The supporting performances of Crudup and Laurence Fishburne also show the bureaucracracy of a government agency such as the IMF.  Most of the casting decisions work well though Abrams does sneak in a couple actors from his TV work with mixed results.  While I’m a fan of Keri Russell she is out of place in the kick-ass role of Lindsey that should have gone to a more action oriented actress.

As far as plot goes it has the believability of a summer popcorn movie.  If you think too much about what is going on or the probability of this or that working you probably will be able to poke enough holes in the film to let all the water out.  The pacing of the film however is good enough to allow you to get wrapped up in the action and enjoy the film without having a chance to pick apart the film’s flaws (at least until the credits roll).  Also the plot thread of the in the traitorous IMF agent was played out in the first film (badly) and doesn’t really work here either.  What’s really sad about this is it’s not necessary for the story, nor is it hard to point to the baddie and say, “yep it’s that guy.”

Speaking of baddies, what every great film needs is a great villain and Hoffman is up to the challenge.  His character is so fun to watch because he is allowed to be a real movie villain without conscience or care and willing to do whatever he wants.  It’s a nice role for Hoffman who doesn’t make Davian cartoonish or crazy, just brutal and sure of himself.  By far it’s the best baddie of the franchise.

The Ethan and Julia relationship works well enough through most of the film though it leads to some groan moments here and there, but by spending time on the relationship early in the film it heps to feed the tension later.  Monaghan is well cast as the beautiful and intelligent Julia.  I fell hard for her in last year’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and once again she gives a great performance.

The third time’s the charm.  Despite a few problems like the unnecessary turncoat agent, a few first-time theatrical directorial miscues, and a couple too impossible stunts the film still works, is quite thrilling, and is a hell of a lot of fun to watch.  If this is where the franchise is heading then I’m hopping onboard for more.

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