Philip Seymour Hoffman
Jonathan Rhys Meyers
What’s that, you say that you haven’t had your fill of Tom Cruise yet?Even after last summer’s trifeca of couch jumping, Tomkat and a half-bakedWar of the Worlds remake, you want more of Mr Megawatt Smile? Wellthen, your latest Cruise-controlled mission, should you choose to accept it,has arrived: Mission: Impossible III.
Cruise returns as IMF (Impossible Mission Force) agent Ethan Hunt, whohas left the espionage field to become a trainer of future field agents atthe agency. He has also become engaged to a nurse named Julia (MichelleMonaghan), who knows nothing about Ethan’s career (she thinks he works atthe Department of Transportation). In short, it seems that IMF’s top spy hascome in from the cold to settle down.
Naturally, that doesn’t last. During Ethan and Julia’s engagement party,Hunt gets a phone call from his old boss, John Musgrave (Billy Crudup). Itseems that one of Ethan’s first protgs, Lindsey Ferris (Keri Russell), hasgone MIA on a mission in Germany and they need Ethan and a newly assembledteam, including former team member Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) andnewcomers Declan (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and Zhen (Maggie Q), to get her out.
They carry off the mission but not without a price, and Ethan wantsrevenge on the man responsible for that: Owen Davian (Philip SeymourHoffman), a cold and ruthless black market weapons dealer whom Ferris waspursuing when she was captured. Davian was in the midst of a pricey weaponsdeal for a high-tech gadget (the film’s Maguffin) called the Rabbit’s Foot.Going against the orders of the bureaucratic IMF director Brassel (LaurenceFishburne), Hunt and his team head off across the globe in the attempts ofretrieving the Rabbit’s Foot and capturing Davian.
For the $150 million poured into the production and all the hype we havehad to endure over the past couple of months (not to mention the six-yearwait between instalments), Mission: Impossible III comes off as adecent but ordinary and near-instantly forgettable piece of entertainment.
Television whizz-kid JJ Abrams, he of Lost, Alias andFelicity fame, makes his feature-film directing debut here. To hiscredit, he manages to give the franchise a bit of life through bits dealingwith Ethan’s personal life and some decent, amusing exchanges with his IMFteam, who for the first time in this franchise are actually put to gooduse. Abrams also delivers three solid set pieces: Lindsey’s rescue and anensuing helicopter fight in Germany, an operation in the Vatican and aTrue Lies-esque bridge battle on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
But just when things seem to be going well, the Achilles Heel of theMission: Impossible franchise, the script, begins to rear its uglyhead. The screenplay, by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci (the duo responsiblefor The Island and The Legend Of Zorro) and Abrams, isn’t asconvoluted as the story for film one or pretentious as film two, but itstill suffers from being far too predictable and ludicrous for its own good.I love crazy stunts, situations and explosions as muchas the next person and am more than willing to suspend disbelief for a filmof this type (it’s not a choice but a requirement), but M:I-3 pushesthe envelope beyond the breaking point. Worse, the romantic subplot feelsbetter suited for an episode of Abrams’ Felicity than it does anaction thriller.
Cruise’s performance doesn’t have much range or depth to it, but thistype of film doesn’t really require acting on a level of Magnolia orCollateral. You expect Tom Cruise the Movie Star to be Tom Cruise theAction Figure and that’s exactly what you get, which is not necessarily abad thing. A solid supporting cast surrounds him, starting with the greatPhilip Seymour Hoffman who makes the most of his limited screen time asDavian. Monaghan is adequate as Julia despite the fact that she and Cruisedisplay zero romantic chemistry. Rhames makes a welcome return, while seriesnewcomers Crudup, Fishburne, Maggie Q, Meyers and Simon Pegg in a funnycameo as an IMF tech whizz, are all commendable.
While watching the previews for Mission: Impossible III a fewmonths back, the abbreviated title blazed across the screen asM:I-lll. I then jokingly turned to my friend and said “Mill? As in’run of the’?” It seems that my lame pun turned out to be a sort of omen:M:I-3 is a run of the mill action film and a pedestrian kick off tothe 2006 summer movie season.