a critiQal film review Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Plot: IMF Agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise), now a training instructor, has settled into a new life with fiancee Julie (Monaghan). When he finds out that former trainee Lindsay has been kidnapped, however, he opts to lead the team to rescue her. But when that mission turns up more questions than answeres, Hunt finds out that this mission - which revolves around a mysterious "rabbit's foot" and an arms dealer by the name of Davian (Hoffman) - is about to get real personal...

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  • ...grips the viewer from the first scene, and leaves them holding their breath until the very end.

With the release of the much-hyped, long awaited Mission: Impossible III, summer has finally arrived at the movies! Having been a big M:I fan since the 80’s adaptation of the television show, I couldn’t wait to check out this new chapter in the M:I saga.

Thanks to Paramount, I’ve been teased with trailers, film clips, featurettes and tv spots since the SuperBowl – and it’s just gotten me more hyped for the film (as is the purpose of those things). While previews are usually ruin a film by giving to much away, the multitude of videos the public has seen on Mission: Impossible III have only served to whet the appetite by not giving away much of anything about the film.

When I found out J.J. Abrams was directing, it put me a little off-kilter. After all, I like “Alias” (TV) – but never saw what anyone liked about “Lost” (TV). Would this first-time attempt at the big-screen ruin the M:I name, or would Abrams step up to the plate and deliver a home run to start the summer of 2006?

Tom Cruise, while a rather bizarre character in real-life judging by all the press on him lately, is still able to bring that huge on-screen persona of his to bear when he wants to – and boy does he come out with both guns blazing in Mission: Impossible III.

He’s able to take fantastical characters like a super spy (or a man fleeing aliens in War of the Worlds (2005)), and ground them in reality with his acting. He makes the character, however outrageous it may seem at first, to be completely realistic. This has paid off for him time and time again, and it does so again in Mission: Impossible III.

This time around, the viewer gets a deeper look into the man behind the IMF, and gets to know Hunt a whole lot better. Cruise gamely steps up to the challenge, and portrays Hunt with that same down-to-earth character tinged with just a bit of superheroism that viewers have come to know and love since DePalma’s Mission: Impossible (1996). Cruise has found exactly the right way to play Hunt, and despite his odd behavior off-screen, viewers will tune in to watch him portray Hunt for as many Mission: Impossible films as they want to make.

Joining Cruise in Mission: Impossible III are a bunch of new faces, including Michelle Monaghan, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Keri Russell, Maggie Q, Jonathan Rhys-Davies, Billy Crudup, Simon Pegg and Laurence Fishburne. Michelle takes center stage with Cruise as his fiancee Julie. While she does get off to a rather rocky start (at least partly due to the viewer having never heard of her in the previous Mission: Impossible films), she does manage to step up the pace, and wins over the viewer early on, managing to turn most of her scenes with Cruise into memorable moments.

Hoffman and Russell at first seemed to be rather odd choices for a villain and an IMF Agent respectively, but both turn in surprisingly good performances. Philip Seymour Hoffman manages to turn into a calculating villain that viewers will love to hate, while Keri shows she’s got a bit of strength of character hidden under her world-famous hair. The rest of the new faces also turn in very good performances, although Laurence Fishburne doesn’t get as much screen time as most viewers would have liked.

Amidst all these new faces in Mission: Impossible III, Ving Rhames shows up as Hunt’s old pal and fellow IMF Agent Luther, to provide a sense of continuity for fans of the film series. His presence provides both an easy camaraderie with Hunt and a much-needed sense of familiarity for viewers. Without Rhames, the viewer would be lost amid all the new faces, and have no sense of continuity. He is the factor that ties each of these wildly different films in the Mission: Impossible series together, and hopefully he, like Cruise himself, will be around for as long as the series continues.

Despite rumors of delays in shooting Mission: Impossible III thanks to script and director issues, the viewer is in for a thrill-ride of epic proportions when they get a chance to check out Mission: Impossible III in theaters.

J.J. Abrams seems to have been a great choice to direct this third film, as he manages to bring a real personal tone to the film even while the locales get more exotic and the action sequences more insane than ever before. Despite the background, he has an ability (which he’s showed before in “Alias” (TV)) to take world-spanning adventures and personalize them for his characters. The viewer knows exactly why the characters are doing what they do, and how desperate they are to achieve their goals.

Compare that to old Schwarzenegger/Stallone shoot-em-ups, and see if some of those old films don’t fall just a tad short. Nowadays, viewers want to know the why as well as the how, and Mission: Impossible III is able to explain the why, which makes the how that much more intense.

Before seeing Mission: Impossible III, I thought that the Mission: Impossible series had reached it’s peak with world-renowned action director John Woo at the helm for Mission: Impossible II (2000). After seeing this film, however, all I can is: WOW.

Mission: Impossible III grips you from the first scene, and leaves the viewer holding their breath until the very end. If X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and Poseidon (2006) are able to take Mission: Impossible III‘s incredible start and run with it, 2006 could become a truly terrific summer season for movies.

Don’t waste anymore time – go see Mission: Impossible III today. This is one Mission that should be Impossible to wait for the DVD to see.

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