Mission: Impossible III


Memorial Day isn't for another few weeks, but summer's already here in the form of Mission: Impossible III, which is everything a summer movie should be. Fun, exciting, loud, and completely devoid of any semblance of realism. Sure, Tom Cruise is playing the same guy he plays in every movie. One of the movie's key action sequences is oddly reduced to an off-screen phone-call (I'd love to know if it was cut, or just intentionally left to our imagination). The agent in distress that brings Cruise's Ethan Hunt back into the field is-- surprise!-- a woman. And I'm quite done with spy stories in which there's a mole in the hero's agency (I'm looking at you, CTU), particularly one so obviously telegraphed. It takes hours of makeup each day to make an actor resemble the celebrity he's portraying, but IMF is able to throw a just-fabricated latex mask and a wig on him and fool his closest associates. And director JJ Abrams stole his own explosive-charge-in-the-head plot device just a couple of weeks ago on Alias, which seems like an extremely poor choice on his part.

But you know... so what? I didn't care because I was just along for the ride. There was no pretentious, faux-artsy crap, no slow-motion doves. The audience was there for an action caper, and if there's one thing 5 years on Alias taught Mr. Abrams, it's how to deliver those goods.

It's not giving anything away to say that the movie opens with a scene from much later in the story, and then jumps back to the beginning. Was that in the screenplay, or a directorial choice? Because it isn't trivial. That scene tells us right up front that certain things are going to happen, which of course completely changes how the viewer relates to the rest of the film. Within minutes we know Ethan Hunt will be captured. We know his romantic interest will be captured. We know there will be an explosive charge implanted in Hunt's brain. Knowing those things, bread crumbs that are dropped earlier resonate for us immediately, rather than paying off much later. I thought the device worked, paradoxically increasing the tension despite knowing where things were headed.

It also doesn't hurt that Mission: Impossible theme is one of the most brilliant pieces of theatrical music ever crafted, better even than the Bond riff. The theme alone creates suspense and sets a mood. Pure genius.

With this, X3, Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest, Superman Returns and, dare I say it, Snakes on a Plane, this is shaping up to be a decent escapist summer.


i love summer movies. well, all movies really, but summer is my favorite.

i was only so-so on mi3 though. i found it way too much like an alias episode. i wanted more. i didnt feel the action was that good. lots of it felt like they were doing camera tricks with quick cuts to convey excitement, instead of showing longer shots of exciting stuff. it felt more tv than movie at times.

Oh, and don't forget Wordplay (6/16)!

I thought it was a great movie. I didn't think it was a great Mission Impossible... By that I mean, that if you're looking for the "impossible job" heist-like caper, you'll be disappointed. That said, it's a great action movie.

To quote Mr. Hand, what are you people, on dope? I'll admit it wasn't as bad as, say, Revenge of the Sith. But there was nothing in it that I saw to merit the superlatives you're putting on it. Even as summer popcorn movies go it was plain air popped fare with no butter or salt - fine if you're on a diet and can't get anything else, but pointless when you have life's rich buffet in front of you.

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