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Overall Rating

Awesome: 20.14%
Worth A Look41.73%
Average: 17.27%
Pretty Bad: 15.83%
Total Crap: 5.04%

12 reviews, 67 user ratings

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Mission: Impossible III
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by Erik Childress

"A Jello Mold Of The First Two That Works In-The-Moment"
4 stars

Somewhere between the first and second films in the franchise, everyone involved seems to have forgotten what made the TV show what it is. They were spies, sneakers if you will, with cool gadgets and occasionally knew how to blow something up. The IMF team weren’t S.W.A.T. or Navy SEALs. Brian DePalma understood it was not about the big fat kill and was a perfect fit for a mold of suspense that was just right for him and the material. John Woo couldn’t have been a worse choice to follow him up; although some audiences publicly thanked him for taking the think out of the story. J.J. Abrams, creator of some of television’s most interesting shows recently as varied as Lost & Alias to Felicity, is an interesting choice to follow up two well-established auteurs to bring his own take to the series. What in many ways is the most expensive episode of Alias ever produced is also an attempt to merge the two styles into a coherent entertainment. It has sneaking, chases, masks, a love story, a MacGuffin, role reversals, Ethan Hunt as fugitive, a plot from the original and the gun-totin’ mentality of the second. And comes up somewhere in-between the first two.

The third film in the series deals with Frank T.J. Mackey (Tom Cruise), former male poon guru turned superspy finally looking to settle down with Julia (Michelle Monaghan), the girl of his dreams. He’s called back into action by the lead guitarist of 70s supergroup, Stillwater (Billy Crudup, in the most flaccid performance of his career) when he discovers a former trainee of his named Felicity (Keri Russell), distraught over the decision to choose Noel and Ben is captured on seemingly her first mission. Teamed again with Marcellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) and a pair of new members; Zhen (Maggie Q) aka the “Naked Weapon” and Declan (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) who joined IMF to avoid infidelity and murder charges in London, Mackey is sent off to rescue Felicity from the former nurse (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who called him in to reconcile with his dying father.

OK, so I’ve taken the merging aspect a bit too far. But if I described the whole plot of the film, you’d be rethinking your take on just how complicated DePalma’s version was compared to this simplification. Yet things get off on the right foot. The pre-credit sequence is as much of a stunner as it is a disservice to the overall mood which Abrams hoped to achieve. Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is tied to a chair facing his new love, Julia, who has a gun pointed to her head by ruthless arms dealer, Owen Davian (Hoffman). Hunt has ten seconds to reveal the location of a device known as “the rabbit’s foot” or she’s taking a bullet. It’s a helluva opening, but it’s also a flashback which we’ll get back to later – so we know right off that Julia is in deep trouble and what could have been a shocking development is reduced to an incident that gets more questionable the longer it goes on. But, more on that later.

Until we get caught up, Hunt and his team go from one mission to another in all parts of the world, at first to rescue his former protégé (Russell) and then to kidnap Davian, whom the department has had an eye on for some time. This sequence set within the Vatican is the one that comes closest to Bruce Geller’s original concept. Breaking in, tracking a mark and fulfilling a mission that might seem more probable if guns and brute force was more involved. There’s a neat moment that finally divulges how those great masks of theirs (used to ad nauseum in Woo’s film as if he were doing Face/Off 2) are created on the spot and perfectly tailored to one’s face. After that though it’s back to big guns and improbable attacks.

Not that it’s entirely a bad thing. Abrams brings some real flair to some of the action scenes; occasionally getting a little too close or editing too fast, but does some nifty camerawork with DP Dan Mindel and, thanks to Cruise doing many of his own stunts, the set pieces, while a tad uninspired, more than keep our attention. As for Abrams wanting to bring back a more team dynamic, it’s still Cruise out in front getting the showy stuff (one running sequence is nearly on par with the astounding French import, District B13) and when it breaks into character moments it’s mostly him and Rhames discussing the value of marriage. Abrams even keeps one action scene off-screen for a brief interaction between Maggie & Rhys-Meyers.

The first two acts of M:I:3 (or MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII) move with a nice energy, distracting us as best it can from the not-so-vague similarities to both Mr. & Mrs. Smith and True Lies (one of the action scenes – involving jets & missiles, no less - is even set on the bridge of the Florida Keys) and Hunt turning into 24’s Jack Bauer during an airplane interrogation. The final third however when the plot begins unraveling upon itself could easily be the period when less-forgiving audience members jump ship for good. Aside from some of the sillier moments, including Hoffman going mano-a-mano with the more-fit Cruise and one character’s instant marksmanship, everything we’ve come to understand of the plot is inverted and the evildoer’s plan makes so little sense that it will be nagging at you well after you’ve left the theater. After you’ve asked yourself where you’ve seen this before (hint: the first film) you have to wonder why the surprise villain went through the trouble to protect their identity only to spare the lives of two people who could ID him to question whether something they received could ID him (even though his colleagues clearly have no clue) when he should know full well that killing them would probably keep him safe in the first place. Stupid.

Mission: Impossible III is an “in-the-moment” movie. It works at that precise moment in time when you’re actually watching it. The epilogue is like a decompression period that allows the movie to escape from memory before the final credits roll, giving you a headstart on forgetting as the ridiculous Kanye West song gets going; which has to be worse than Madonna’s for the last Bond film. Hoffman oozes menace, but isn’t much of a foil for Cruise in the final moments. Laurence Fishburne gets the best tough-guy dialogue of the piece (“I will bleed on the stripes to make sure they stay red”) and any Katie Holmes/Cruise jokes will flow with ease (particularly in the marriage discussions and a silent mask Cruise wears as if it was his turn to give birth.) As convoluted as DePalma’s version may have been, it took his expressions as a filmmaker to make this series what it should be. Abrams does a yeoman’s job with the third entry (and certainly outdoes action vet Woo) but for this franchise to really continue, especially with the Jason Bourne series picking up the superspy slack, it’s going to need a completely fresh approach and not just a jello mold of the previous good parts. Sure, there’s always room for it, but $10 can be a lot to pay for just jello.

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originally posted: 05/04/06 23:27:04
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User Comments

12/17/18 Ajp wales 1st is still the best. 2nd is about toms hair and its condition at various times in the mov 3 stars
9/14/17 morris campbell action movie goodness 4 stars
7/23/12 cr not good as part 2 was, tom cruise performance keeps movie from sucking. 2 stars
3/15/09 R.W. Welch Best of the so-so series. A little too gimmicky but moves right along. B- 4 stars
2/05/09 Faraz J Atlast a name worthy of the title. Fun ride. As i say thats what a GOOD movie is. 4 stars
12/16/08 Random M:I3 = a Cruise at breakneck speed. Best of the trilogy. 5 stars
5/23/08 Charles Tatum Sleepy actioner, with a ridiculously bad finale 2 stars
5/17/07 Matt All 3 are shit. I haven't been able to watch one to the end. 1 stars
3/20/07 man best of the three 4 stars
2/04/07 AJ Muller Surprisingly entertaining mix of 1 and 2; superb popcorn flick. 4 stars
1/20/07 Monday Morning Hey...rabbit's foot. Ooooo...scary, kids! All action, minimal plot. 3 stars
1/10/07 Mike I was pleasantly surprised. GREAT movie!!! Non-stop action!!! 5 stars
1/10/07 Logan Bray Awsome movie definitly buy it 5 stars
12/19/06 Indrid Cold Not a waste of time, but nothing memorable. 3 stars
12/04/06 JeromeBosch Ostentatious pétard mouillé…no more fizz left in this franchise 3 stars
11/22/06 burp A damn slick and enjoyable action flick 4 stars
11/21/06 Austin Wertman WHAT DO YOU MEAN "WORTH A LOOK"? AWESOME MOVIE! 4 stars
11/21/06 mr.mike accept this "mission" - by far the best 5 stars
11/19/06 Jim Not bad, but ending is lame. Nice to see Shaun of the Dead has a new job. 4 stars
11/09/06 Anthony Feor I had a feeling I had saw this in the other two movies 3 stars
11/02/06 action movie fan good action in james bondish story--bridge scene is the best 4 stars
8/06/06 Erik Van Sant Glad it's over. Bye, Cruisy-boy. Abrahms' directing is worth the cash to see this. 4 stars
7/16/06 scott watterman this movie sucked so much ass 1 stars
7/13/06 Gayblade Another ego vehicle for the man who likes shots showing him running. 2 stars
7/07/06 malcolm it's that easy to teach a doctor to use a handgun? 4 stars
6/25/06 Zed Absurd love story ruins the movie 2 stars
6/18/06 MP Bartley Clever script, good action and team-work for once. Hoffman steals the film predictably. 4 stars
5/29/06 Charlene Javier Loved it loved it loved it! 4 stars
5/28/06 Koitus "How" does being dead stop a nitroglycerine bomb? Also, improbable ending-mtg the IMF team. 3 stars
5/19/06 Staci This Mission features Tom at his sexy best! I give it 2 thumbs up! 5 stars
5/18/06 Quigley amazingly, tom didn't ruin it. hoffman was awesome, and so were the stunts and action 4 stars
5/18/06 michael average and wait for the DVD 3 stars
5/18/06 Gavin Bamber Will keep this series going ala Bond 4 stars
5/18/06 Alfred Guy Tom Cruise = not believable in any action role. 2 stars
5/17/06 Paddy Big bold, brash & beautiful! Dont agree with the review. Look for the padding he straps on! 5 stars
5/17/06 John Terrible acting except for Hoffmann - a real waste of time - 2 stars
5/16/06 Ole Man Bourbon TOM CRUISE OMG! I CAN'T GET ENOUGH!!! 3 stars
5/16/06 katinka poo 1 stars
5/15/06 Ethan Hunt Sucks Don't waste your money 1 stars
5/14/06 K. Pearlman Could not pay me enough to have to see this one.... 2 stars
5/12/06 ES I went and saw it; even though I hated the first two. It was terrific. 4 stars
5/11/06 Adrian A two hour Tom Cruise ad. Screw this shit. 1 stars
5/10/06 NoRefill I hated the last one, but his one was pretty exciting. A few stupid things, but forgivable. 4 stars
5/10/06 Paul action, acting, plot, fun, entertaining, great, money's worth, fun, funny, fine, frollick 5 stars
5/09/06 Aldo personally i didn't like 1 & 2 but this was way better - good cinema movie go & watch it 5 stars
5/09/06 Mase The "mission" series is getting seriously stale. Watchable but completly forgettable 3 stars
5/09/06 cpbjr much better than anticipated. 4 stars
5/09/06 y2mckay Great action and supporting cast, but too predictable and dead-set on a happy ending. 4 stars
5/09/06 zaw I mean, good guy need to loose sometime like a wife or g/f something. It was so perdicitbl 1 stars
5/08/06 jmelrose Awesome. Best of the 3. Great story, Internal corruption angle IS old, but minor issue. 5 stars
5/08/06 Nobody Way better than the first 2 5 stars
5/08/06 Blutarsky Matrix trilogy?? Feh. MI3 rocked the audience like a hurricane. 5 stars
5/08/06 Paul " Diddy" Sutherland Deep Plot miraculous action scenes and just a enough comedy to keep you engaged. 5 stars
5/08/06 sg72 Great action sequences but plot was nearly non-existent. 2 stars
5/07/06 Carol smart flick, exciting, fine acitng, colorful, for the discerning, passionate, big screen 5 stars
5/07/06 GoGo THIS was why sequels were invented. Best one so far! 5 stars
5/06/06 Philip Buckley-Mellor Borderline-perfect 5 stars
5/06/06 KingNeutron 2nd half was better than the 1st, but whole int.corruption thing has been done 2 death... 3 stars
5/06/06 al too much hype. worth a rental not a full movie price..... 3 stars
5/06/06 Eevil Wolfie Makes up for the wreck that was Mission Impossible 2. 4 stars
5/06/06 Dan This is a dumb movie for dumb people. 1 stars
5/06/06 k oh please.. this was NOT a good movie... 2 stars
5/06/06 Heather Runyan this movie was ok 3 stars
5/05/06 jcjs no brainer wonderful, fast, impossible delightful, wonderful acting, lost the plot, 2am 5 stars
5/05/06 Doc Hollywood An entertaining flick. Rather predictable ending. 4 stars
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  05-May-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 30-Oct-2006



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