Review: Mission: Impossible III

Filed under: Reviews

He goes by many names now.

Most are shameful and talk directly to his mental state, but Tom Cruise is in all sense of the word, an entertainer. Yes, he loves to argue about some of the dumbest things and dictate that his religion is the purest of all, but when we line up for a Tom Cruise movie, does it matter? He's an actor for crying out loud.

Cruise, or now known by his Indian name "Man-who-jumps-on-couch", returns to the M:I franchise six years after the previous installment. Cruise resumes his secret agent role of Ethan Hunt, who this time is trying to leave the spy world behind and settle down with his wife-to-be Julia (Michelle Monaghan). When a fellow IMF agent Lindsey Faris (Keri Russell) goes missing on an assignment, Hunt's handler (Billy Crudup) comes to Hunt to beg him to save Faris. It turns out that Hunt had trained Faris and developed a big brother/little sister kind of relationship with her. Hunt's new mission is now very personal.

When the mission goes sour, he must find all the will in his being to solve the mystery of a mole inside IMF and face off against a sadistic arms dealer, Owen Davian (Phillip Seymour Hoffman).

From the traumatic opening scene of the film, you know that this is yet again a different kind of Mission: Impossible film. What seems to be strange about this so-called franchise of films is that none of them have any common threads other than they star Tom Cruise, the theme music, and co-star Ving Rhames. The rest seems to be a free reign. In some ways that's a good thing, like in the case of this film, but others it just isn't.

Let me explain.

With every great franchise, even if it's a spy franchise or not, comes a reason or formula to come back time and time again. Bond is the perfect example. But when you basically throw everything out each time except for the theme music and the star, it can be hard for an audience to reconnect with characters, significant events, or the world the characters interact in. Why have a franchise then?

This third film in the series is so radically different than the previous entries that it feels like as soon as you hear the theme song, a new franchise is being born. The shift in direction, unbelievable stunt sequences, and spy intrigue are just some of the things that have been amped up to drool-worthy proportions. If you love action films you will drool.

Then there is the film's star. He's not Bond, he's not Bourne, and he sure the hell ain't Jack Bauer. Have we ever known who the hell Ethan Hunt is? Nope, and sadly we don't know him here either. He's Tom Cruise with a license to kill. This also doesn't mean the film isn't fun. Believe it or not.

The only way I could see into who Ethan Hunt was in any of the films were by the people around him. Thandie Newton's brilliant performance in the last film made us care about Hunt. In this film we have Monaghan, but she is never really revealed all that much.

The flaw I can see with M:i:III is the script. There are some good lines, mainly coming from Hoffman, but there is also a lot of stuff that's muddled. The whole mole plot is kind of rudimentary and if you have seen Alias or 24, kind of overdone. I kind of wished they had forgotten about the mole and concentrated on the struggle between Hoffman and Cruise.

This film has some of the best action sequences I have seen in a very long time. I just wish some of the character-building balanced some the brilliance of the action. (3.5 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

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