US Release Date: 05-05-2006
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
- Tom Cruise, as
- Ethan Hunt
- Ving Rhames, as
- Luther Strickell
- Keri Russell, as
- Lindsey Ferris
- Philip Seymour Hoffman, as
- Owen Davian
- Bahar Soomekh, as
- Ms. Kari
- Laurence Fishburne, as
- John Brassel
- Billy Crudup, as
- John Musgrave
- Simon Pegg, as
- Benji Dunn
- Michelle Monaghan, as
- Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as
Tom Cruise and Michelle Monaghan in Mission Impossible III.
In my review for Mission Impossible II (the very first movie reviewed here at ThreeMovieBuffs.com) I pointed out that Ethan Hunt had become a virtual super-hero with his ability to complete the most difficult tasks and defeat any foe without breaking a sweat or suffering the smallest injury. Well apparently someone at Paramount Pictures was listening because in the latest installment of the series, Mission Impossible III, Hunt has suddenly become very human indeed. Oh sure, you still know that he will emerge victorious and will still pull off implausible stunts, but this time around it's much more of a struggle for him. This is definitely an improvement and helps make up for the fact that this movie is about twenty minutes too long.
The movie opens with a climactic scene from act three in which the villainous Owen Davian (Hoffman) is holding a gun on Hunt's wife while Hunt is handcuffed to a chair only a few feet away. After an intense exchange of threats, Davian pulls the trigger. Before we see what happens the movie cuts to the opening credits with the distinctive Mission Impossible theme song, followed by the actual beginning of the story so that we can see how it is that we reached that tension filled confrontation.
As the story opens, Hunt is living a relatively quiet life, now retired from the field he spends his time teaching at the IMF equivalent of the Police Academy. He's even engaged to be married. However, when a former student of his (played by Keri Russell) is kidnapped by evil Arms Dealer Owen Davian, Hunt joins the mission to rescue her. When the rescue attempt goes awry, Hunt then goes on a mission to seek revenge.
Like the James Bond series, the Mission Impossible movies generally contain certain set pieces that you expect to see and this installment is no different. There's the glamorous party that must be infiltrated (this time at the Vatican). There's the person who must be impersonated by wearing a voice synthesizer and amazing lifelike rubber mask. And of course there is a highly guarded building that must be penetrated so that something can be stolen. Lastly of course, there is the traitor in IMF that must be unmasked (He's not hard to spot and you'll mostly likely do so long before Hunt does).
Of course the real point of these movies is to move from one action scene to the next. And while they are well done, after an hour and a half I began to feel satiated with them. Like gorging yourself on your favorite food, it might still taste good but it becomes harder to appreciate. Although to the filmmaker's credit, as I stated, at least this time around the action actually seems to take effort on Hunt's part.
Despite becoming something of a national joke following his Oprah couch jumping antics, Cruise shows once again that he is an actor and not just a celebrity. This isn't Oscar material by any means, and it's hard to separate Hunt from Cruise, but he does manage the action and the drama scenes with equal aplomb. Unfortunately, he does so at the expense of every other actor in the film. Ving Rhames is once again reduced to a very minor supporting role and this time he is joined by Laurence Fishbourne, Billy Crudup, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Simon Pegg. Even Hoffman, who is very effective as the villain despite limited screen time, is so sparsely developed that he makes the average Bond villain look three-dimensional.
As a big summer action flick, Mission Impossible III delivers the goods. It doesn't break new ground in the genre the way the Bourne series has and nor does it have the classic status of the Bond films, but as mindless entertainment it's certainly enjoyable.
Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible III.
Exactly. This is a well-crafted big-budget Hollywood action flick starring the biggest movie star in the world. There are no surprises but also no real disappointments either. And I agree with Scott that it is a definite improvement over the second installment in the series.
While I have little to add to Scott's well-rounded review, I will instead compare the onscreen relationship between Cruise and Michelle Monaghan to his real-life romance with Katie Holmes. First of all there is a physical resemblance between the two women and a fairly substantial age difference between them and Cruise. Ethan Hunt, like Cruise, is ready to settle down with Mrs. Right. Whereas Cruise is a devoted member of Scientology, Ethan Hunt (unbeknownst to Julia) is a member of a secret government spy group. Cruise proudly declared his love on Oprah while Hunt confides his to friend and teammate Luther Strickell (Rhames). I predict that if Cruise gets around to making number 4 in the series Ethan Hunt will become a father.
When you are the biggest box office star in the world the media loves to tear you down. The fact that this movie made slightly less money in its opening weekend than the first two movies has been loudly trumpeted in the press. A 48 million dollar opening would not be considered a disappointment for any other star. It will assuredly go on to become Tom Cruise's 15th motion picture to break the 100 million mark. A record he already owns.
Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg in Mission: Impossible III.
Tom Cruise is the man! He is the Barry Bonds of movie stars. Like Bonds, people can't stop talking about Cruise even though most everything that is said is negative. They are each at the top of their game and their personal actions are spilling over into their professional one's. Is Barry only good because of steroids? Is Tom acting nuts to get publicity for his movie? No matter what your opinion of Cruise or Bonds, they both deliver the goods.
In Mission: Impossible III Cruise returns in full action mode. The pace clips along and there is plenty of eye candy. The problem, as in all of the movie's in this franchise, is that there is really never any realism to be found. Sure this installment is personal to Hunt but the ending, like most of the movie, is so far over the top that the tension really is never there. This is popcorn entertainment on a big scale, but you will forget most of the film as soon as you leave the theater.
Mission: Impossible III is a good mindless watch. Like Barry Bonds breaking Babe Ruth's home run record; Tom Cruise's off screen antics are only relevant if you want them to be.
Photos © Copyright Paramount Pictures (2006)