Just got back from a midnight screening of "Mission: Impossible III," (so don't mind any typos) and all I can say is "wow." Not completely consistent and not without a few minor hoaky parts, and not quite up to "Bourne Supremacy" levels (one of my favorite spy movies), but this is by far the best "Mission: Impossible" of the three.
The movie takes everything that was good about the first two and blends them together, while adding character and grittiness that was, in hindsight, certainly missing from the first two. It is amazing how, by providing a back story to your lead characters, you become that much more involved. Whereas the first one was very plot-centric and the second very action-oriented, this one is about emotion. The plot is simple - Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) kidnaps a major arms dealer (Philip Seymour Hoffman, coming off an Oscar win) only to have him escape hours later. In retaliation, the villain fulfills on his promise to kidnap and torture Hunt's girlfriend. It is a movie about revenge and saving a loved one, nothing more, but it works wonders.
Director J.J. Abrams, the man who reinvented the spy genre with "Alias" (even though the show has tanked over the last season or so) and who has also rejuvenated the supernatural with "Lost," brings a new level to the franchise. The movie has plenty of action scenes, but is noticeably more cautious about just throwing the characters into sequences that don't make any sense. "Mission: Impossible II" was a fun but incredibly dumb movie, full of slow-motion shots, flying pigeons and a hardly-sensible plot. This new one provides plenty of awesome and much more realistic action scenes (well, somewhat) while going into more depth with the characters. The movie starts off with a bang, and then proceeds to flash back to develop the relationship between Hunt and his girlfriend. Things proceed from there, but there are certainly slower sections that make the action near the end all the more intense.
And intense the action is. While the movie does have a few chuckles thrown in for good measure, there is definitely a new level of grittiness. The action is ruthless at times, and the last half hour is full adrenaline. The bridge attack scene, while looking way too much like "True Lies," is extraordinary.
Still, the movie is not without its flaws. It is inconsistent in a few parts - the movie lets up temporarily when it should drill on, and there are a few cheesy moments, especially near the end, that seem out of place for this kind of movie. Furthermore, the jokes that are scattered throughout the movie seem out of place considering that this is the most serious movie of the three. Nevertheless, the flaws are rather minor.
"Mission: Impossible III" is a thrill ride from beginning to end, and features some incredible action and plenty of intense suspense. The choice to go with a proven director in the spy genre and one who was willing to take a different, more emotional approach to the subject was a very wise one.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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