Mission: Impossible III Review
You may have to excuse me. From time to time when confronted with a summer blockbuster that actually delivers on its promises, I can be prone to lose my critical objectivity, get swept away with the bright lights and the loud noises and start handing out ratings that maybe in the cold light of day the films don’t quite deserve, War of the Worlds being a prime example. I hope that doesn’t prove to be the case with M:I3 because, on first impressions, it’s a belter.
We begin near the end, with a pre-credits sequence that finds Cruise’s Ethan Hunt strapped to a chair with a bomb up his nose. He’s the captive of Owen Davian (Hoffman), an international arms dealer who wants something called the “Rabbit’s Foot” and is prepared to kill Hunt’s new wife Julia (Monaghan) if he doesn’t deliver it.
Back we go to find out how we got to this point, and a quiet but expositionally efficient party scene where Ethan is meeting Julia’s family for the first time – everyone, including Julia, thinks he analyses traffic jams for a living instead of training spys. But his IMF handler (Crudup) wants him back in the field to rescue an agent who’s been kidnapped in Germany and, with his team in tow (Rhames, Meyers, Q) they begin their globetrotting mission to bring down Davian using all the gadgets and expertise at their disposal – standing in their way the fact that Julia can now be exploited as Ethan’s weak point, not to mention a possible mole at IMF.
The two vital components in the overwhelming success of M:I3 are unquestionably Cruise and director J.J. Abrams. Most of the cast are good, a vicious and merciless Hoffman especially, and a comical Simon Pegg. But, as star, Cruise combines exceptional physicality with a committed and gripping performance. And, as producer, he had the good sense to bring on board a director who has proved himself the master of his art on television and has made the transition to the big screen with apparent ease and no little style.
Abrams completely reinvents and revitalises the franchise, building on the good things from De Palma’s original film (tension, intrigue, wit) and leaving John Woo’s shamefully narcissistic and overblown M:I2 to shuffle its feet in embarrassment. Once the setup is out of the way, the film barely pauses for breath for the next 100 minutes, delivering one absurdly exciting set piece after another – a mesmerisingly inventive infiltration of the Vatican, a causeway set firefight that manages to trump True Lies and a breathless extended chase on the streets and rooftops of Shanghai – every one combining astonishing stunt-work with carefully utilised, unobtrusive CGI to deliver action the likes of which may never have been seen before.
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