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Mission: Impossible III (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jul 18, 2023


Starring Tom Cruise, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames, Billy Crudup, Michelle Monaghan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell, Maggie Q, Simon Pegg, Eddie Marsan, Laurence Fishbourne, Bahar Soomekh, Jeff Chase, Michael Berry Jr. and Carla Gallo.

Screenplay by Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci and JJ Abrams.

Directed by JJ Abrams.

Distributed by Paramount Pictures. 125 minutes. Rated R.

Mission: Impossible III landed with a thud earlier this year in cineplexes, dragging around all the baggage of the suddenly controversial superstar at its center. It seems the movie could not have possibly survived the circus atmosphere suddenly radiating from Tom Cruise; the Scientology rants, the TomKat baby, the diagnoses of Brooke Shields, the jumping around on Oprah's couch. In fact, all of these PR gaffes were box office poison for this film and led directly to Cruise's professional divorce from long-time studio Paramount.

Months later, with the movie being released on DVD, it seems a good time to reevaluate the film itself without all of the distractions. The truth is, it is a shame that MI:3 was saddled with these problems, because truth is, it is the best film in this uneven franchise. Brian DePalma's original film was too clinical, cold and confusing, while John Woo's sequel had the exact opposite problem, it was too frenetic and valued style over substance. While the latest film, helmed by TV producer JJ Abrams (Lost, Alias), is not perfect, it does capture the audience much more efficiently than its predecessors.

Perhaps it is because this film has a human pulse mixed in with the exploding bridges and death fights. Cruise's superhero Ethan Hunt is working here to save his love as well as his country.

As the movie starts, Hunt has retired from the field and happily taken a job at home as an instructor. He is in love with a civilian (Michelle Monaghan) and planning to get married.

The problems of his old life rear their heads when an old student (played by Keri Russell, the star of Abrams' breakthrough series Felicity) is kidnapped by a European arms dealer (Phillip Seymour Hoffman). When the rescue doesn't come down quite the way that was planned, Ethan is placed in the middle of feuding officials in his agency, played by Laurence Fishbourne and Billy Crudup. (Is it my imagination, or is the normally extremely handsome Crudup being significantly glammed down here so that he doesn't show up his star?)

Phillip Seymour Hoffman is just fine as the evil criminal at the center of the investigation -- but the actor is a little wasted following up his Oscar-winning performance in Capote. He seems suitably evil and ruthless, but it's a role that almost anyone could have played. As a prisoner, he threatens that he will find, torture and kill Hunt's wife or girlfriend, so when he is dramatically freed from captivity and the fiancée disappears, Hunt vows to do all in his power to save her.

This leads to sort of typical spy hijinks; exotic lands, computer chips, lots of firefights and showdowns. Mission: Impossible III does them all with style, though. (10/06)

Dave Strohler

Copyright ©2006 All rights reserved. Posted: October 22, 2006.


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