"Find hungry samurai" -Gisaku



From the very beginning it’s clear we’re getting a different kind of Mission Impossible (or Mission Impossiblest, as my sister likes to say). Instead of some spy vs. spy wizardry or other set piece, we’re thrown right into emotional turmoil and strife. Taking a page out of Alias storytelling, we open up with Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Owen Davian) holding a gun to Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) woman. “Tell me where the rabbit’s foot is,” Owen threatens, “Before I count to ten. Or I will shoot her in the head.”

We get all the way to “9,” before the screen goes black, and we get that familiar lit fuse sound and the great “dun dun dun DUN dun, dun dun dun DUN dun” music rolls in. It’s time to get our mission impossible schwerve on (if we choose to accept).

I mention Alias because M:I:III: is directed by J.J. Abrams, his first movie helm, but long known to obsessive TV fans for Alias, Lost, and I suppose even Felicity. In fact, because of 5 seasons of Alias (well, 4 and a half. I had to bail this season), the whole spy thing doesn’t feel as special as it did back in the late ‘90s. That’s not Mission Impossible’s fault, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching “Alias: the Movie,” but with a much higher budget.

Hyperion’s Rating Guide

Suspension of Disbelief: 8.5. We’re almost completely in the realm of fantasy here.

Genre Grade: I think we need to judge MI: III by the standards of popcorn action flick. If DIE HARD is an A, this would be a B-.

Sex/Violence: Plenty of violence, although most of it is over-the-top movie violence that is generally pretty bloodless. There’s no sex, but there is one great scene where sex is mentioned. I won’t spoil it for you. This should be fine for any teenager.

Kickassability: We’ve grown accustomed to these movies, so the impact is lessened, but if you consider what Ethan Hunt actually goes through and accomplishes, that’s a lot of ass kicking. 40 (out of 100).

Pantheon Percentile: Not anything I was rushing to take others too, but takes its place in the tradition of fine summer movies: 59.

Exotic locations? Check. (That many of the locations were clearly used for actual filming and not faked in a CSI fly-over Las Vegas set up was nice.) Cool Gadgetry and techno-speak? Check. (Although, I understand why you’d want to keep using those masks that look like people, but it’s not as fresh anymore. At least we get to see one being made on the spot. That was neat.) Slightly incomprehensible plot that we’re never supposed to fully “get,” and only serves as the McGuffin to pull us along? Check, Check and Check.

This leaves just one thing, which I would argue is J.J. Abrams’s specialty: devastating emotional family ties that will be exploited by the bad guys. Giant check mark.

The rule I have with sequels that aren’t as fresh or cool is to judge them this way: what if they came first? I think by those standards MI: III would arguably be the best in the series, and one of the best action/family entanglement films since the immortal DIE HARD.

But it didn’t come first, and there’s no changing that. The reality is, I’ve seen much of this before, whether it’s James Bond, Alias, or god help me; even Austin Powers. There’s no way to get as excited anymore. I’ve just seen too much.

But that’s nobody’s fault in the movie. Cruise is great, Hoffman is too, and Ving Rhames and Laurence Fishburn chew up scenery like they’re considering challenging Samuel L. Jackson for Coolest Black Man on the Planet. (Coolest black man? There’s a redundancy. Seeing as how 13 of the top 20 coolest men on the planet are black, I guess the only sub category should be “Coolest Non-Black Man.)

And the direction is sure. J.J. Abrams gives us what we’ve come to expect from him. I guess with his TV programs, though, I’m spoiled. I want to see intricate storylines that take their time and get to know the characters. I have no doubt that I would love Hoffman’s back-story, and an episode about Ving Rhames would be sweet as well. But there’s no time for that. More’s the pity. But what we get is pretty good too.


Rachel said...

I thought the movie was awful, and I will explain why.
1. What is the Rabbit's Foot?
2. What does Philip S Hoffman do?
3. Why did Billy Crudup betray Tom Cruise?
4. It was low on spying and on things blowing up.
5. Fiancee/wife: annoying
6. What was with the song?
7. Keri Russel, underused.
8. The first MI was by far the best, this was an absolute waste of my time.

kapgar said...

Keri Russell underused?!?! There went my reason for seeing it.