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Mission Impossible III

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Judy Thorburn

Mission Impossible III

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"MISSION IMPOSSIBLE III" - ABRAMS AND TEAM DELIVER A JOB WELL DONE

After the two previous disappointing installments of Mission Impossible, which was “supposed” to be based on the 60’s TV series of the same name, I was expecting another let down since neither film came close to resembling the awesome series. Only the title and theme song stayed intact. The third time is the charm, thanks to acclaimed TV writer/director J.J. Abrams (Lost, Alias) who, in his big screen directorial debut, skillfully reinvigorates the franchise making it the best of the three. So, yes, finally we have a Mission Impossible movie that actually lives up to the hype.

At this year’s ShoWest convention in March, Abrams showed a clip from MI:III and spoke about his film being more character driven than the previous installments. He didn’t lie, and while MI:III is fast paced and jam packed with almost non stop action we get more of an in depth look into the personal life of the lead character Ethan Hunt with a scenario that is impacted by the woman he loves.

The opening tension filled scene sets the ball rolling and continues to build on an adrenaline flowing pace. Agent Ethan Hunt beaten and tied to what looks like a barber’s chair is told that unless he reveals the whereabouts of something referred to as “a rabbits foot”, the woman also bound in a seat nearby will be killed. After the count of ten and a gun blast, the story flashes back to what would inevitably lead to this moment.

Tom Cruise is, of course back in fine form as agent extraordinaire, Ethan Hunt. He’s now semi retired from the MI force with a part time job, training recruits in secrecy from nurse girlfriend Julia (Michelle Monaghan), who is under the belief that he works as an air traffic control expert. On the night of their engagement party, Ethan is called back to duty for a mission to find and rescue his former student Lindsey Ferris (Teri Russell, in a strong turn far removed from the fragile “Felicity”, another Abrams’ creation) who disappeared during an operation tracking down sadistic international arms dealers Owen Davian, chillingly played by recent Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman. So, Hunt connects with his team consisting of returning tech expert Luther Stidwell (Ving Rhames, who gets to say some funny one liners) and new characters, Irish getaway driver Declan (barely used, sexy Jonathan Rhys-Myers) and Asian beauty, Zhen (Maggie Q) to recover the young female agent held captive by the cold and calculating Davian. What the team doesn’t know, but is soon to find out, is that Davian implanted a timed explosive in her head.

I don’t want to ruin it by giving it all away. But I’ll say that while Davian is initially able to flee, the team concocts an elaborate plan to kidnap Davian in Rome during a Vatican City function before he meets with potential buyers. That’s where the use of a latex lookalike mask, and a voice converter are employed by Hunt to switch identities and make it happen. But of course, since its way too soon for this mission to be successful you can expect another escape, and a revenge plot that ultimately puts Ethan’s new wife, Julia in harm’s way. Revealing a bit more, Lindsay was ingenious enough to send Ethan a microdot imbedding in a postcard from Berlin with a warning about a “mole” in the IMF organization. Could it be IMF Director Brassel (Laurence Fishburne) or Operations Manager John Musgrave (Billy Crudup)? I’ll never tell. As for the “rabbit’s foot”, with a price tag of $850 million, we can more than assume it is a biological weapon, by the recognizable symbol on its glass container, and most likely capable of creating massive devastation.

Let me say that throughout the film I was on he edge of my seat. MI: III offers one heck of an escapist fun ride, delivering a fast and furious mission that includes the nifty gadgets and exciting scenes in international locations from Berlin, to Rome and Shanghai. The explosive ambush from the air aimed at Cruise on a bridge that has cars flying through the air and crashing, Cruise in a heart pumping foot race through the crowded Shanghai streets and over rooftops, and a night time helicopter battle within a forest of wind turbines are just a few high octane sequences that are well orchestrated. FYI, Cruise has stated in numerous interviews that he did his own stunts, and indeed, they are very impressive. His athletic abilities come into play not only on the ground where he does lots of running, but also in scenes that show him flying through the air, leaping across skyscrapers and climbing buildings. In MI: III he is more than a heroic action figure and brings additional dimensions to his character by exploring a range of emotions, like rage, fear, love and a sense of urgency that comes with knowing that a loved one’s life is at risk.

Minor complaints are that the score and explosive scenes are quite loud and some of the camera work is a bit dizzying. But, all in all my advice is to sit back, wear some ear plugs if you need them, and enjoy Tom Cruise at his action packed, charismatic best and Hoffman as the most cunning and ruthless villain since the old James Bond movies. And, although there is no doubt Cruise is the focal point, at least we get to see more team work than in the prior films.

I still would love to see a Mission Impossible that pays a deserving homage to the original series. But, for now MI:III will do. For the most part Tom Cruise, producing partner Paula Wagner, along with big screen debut by director Abrams, and a fine supporting cast prove that their Mission Impossible team effort paid off.

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