Mission: Impossible III: Rated “PG-13” (126 minutes)
Starring: Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Michelle Monaghan, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Billy Crudup
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
OK, let us start this one off with the proper tone. We grew up watching Mission Impossible on TV. Thus, for us, MI is all about a bunch of special agents, doing “impossible” stuff, with a minimum of dialogue, and an outstanding score by the incomparable Lalo Schifrin playing in the background. That didn’t happen in the first two films, and it didn’t happen here in this 2006 film either. To be sure, we had high hopes for this film based on the trailer, but, alas, we were let down yet again.
All of which is not to say that we didn’t enjoy this film, only that it may have borne the name of that terrific TV series, but it wasn’t quite what was being sold (any chance of getting the producers on a bait-and-switch rap? Wouldn’t that be a hoot, eh?) Needless to say, this high-octane flick is a thrill-a-minute ride wherein the recently retired, Agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) has traded his edge-of-the-seat life as an MI Agent battling the forces of evil in a complex world for a much slower than slow life training new IMF agents (imagine going from fighting fires to watching paint dry).
As can be expected, with this lifestyle change, he now has some new opportunities to consider, including the possibility of an actual “normal” life, a girl, and, of course, marriage to his very lovely girlfriend Julia (Monaghan). However, when a new conflict arises, Ethan is tapped by his old pal and supervisor Musgrave (Crudup) to return “just one more time” to re-enter active duty and come back to duty to confront the toughest villain he’s ever faced — Owen Davian (Hoffman), who is an international weapons and information provider with no remorse, no conscience, and no scruples. He would just as soon kill you as look at you.
As the plot grows ever more convoluted, and subterfuge becomes the operative word of the day, the explosions become exponentially larger and firefights grow ever more intense, the film is quite literally tripping over itself in order to jump the shark onscreen before the final reel has spun. Yes, this is the way of things young Skywalker, bigger, badder, and more explosive. Check your brain at the door, sit back in the dark, face forward, relax, and let your eyes dilate as you continue to shovel popcorn into your mouth.
As stated, no, this isn’t Mission Impossible; even directed by TV’s golden boy of the minute, J.J. Abrams (Alias) it is, however, a thrilling summer popcorn flick. Too bad that the off-screen antics of Cruise at the time seemed to wind up sabotaging this flick, causing it to stumble out of the cinematic starting gate. Perhaps this will serve as an object lesson to other Hollywood superstars and cause them to dial down the over-the-top rhetoric of their lives so as to not so easily confuse their real lives with the ones that they enact on the silver screen.
Now, what we really need is for some Cable-TV network to resurrect the classic (read: true) Mission Impossible series, so that this current generation can see what the fuss is all about.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web.