Thursday, May 25, 2006

Mission: Impossible III


In MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) gives up field work for training new agents and intends to settle down with his fiancĂ© Julia (Michelle Monaghan). Ethan returns to active duty when he receives word that his pupil Lindsey (Keri Russell) has been captured. The rescue mission puts him in pursuit of Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman), an international information and weapons trader. Owen plans to sell some secret and presumably catastrophic technology referred to as "the rabbit’s foot", and it’s up to Ethan and his team to stop him. They interfere with the initial transaction, but Owen escapes and threatens to abduct and kill Julia for Ethan’s actions.

Director and co-writer J.J. Abrams is co-creator and executive producer of ALIAS and LOST. With MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III he has essentially designed the most expensive episode of ALIAS ever made. Those familiar with the show will recognize his spy series’ style at work from the beginning. The pre-credits cliffhanger finds Ethan in a terrible jam that won’t be revisited until three-quarters through the film. Abrams uses genre to dress up character-based stories, so what he adds is some humanity to Ethan. The super-spy may be saving the world, but he’s also trying to save his world, one in which love of and trust in a woman are the only secure things in his life.

Abrams is also well versed in detailing complicated spy missions. In M:i:III he whisks Ethan to Berlin, Vatican City, and Shanghai and has him attempt such seemingly impossible stunts as infiltrating the Pope’s residence, using a fulcrum to swing from one skyscraper to the top of its highly guarded neighbor, and surviving missiles fired at him on a bridge. M:i:III is swiftly paced. It zips from one action setpiece to the next, which tops what we’ve just seen.

Abrams also injects a nice dose of humor into the film. Simon Pegg of SHAUN OF THE DEAD adds comic relief as the office tech expert not unlike ALIAS' Marshall Flinkman, and Laurence Fishburne’s crusty IMF director contributes some laughs too.

Cruise is a man possessed in the public eye, but it’s a quality that serves him well in this role. M:i:III goes at a breakneck pace, so there’s no time for him to waste. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III is the first out of the gates for the summer movie season, and it's an entertaining ride that delivers the thrills and outrageous stunts that are the hallmarks of this time of year at the multiplex.

Grade: B-

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