Saturday, June 10, 2006

Mission: Impossible III

Title: Mission: Impossible III (2006)
Dir: J.J. Abrams
Rating: *** out of 5 stars

I don't understand all the fanboy hype around this movie. Grateful as I am for Lost, I do not think everything J.J. Abrams touches is gold. I also refuse to praise M:I3 as brilliant because "it's better than M:I2." That's like praising the taste of 7-Up because "well, it's better than piss."

However, the film is not bad. Just overhyped. I don't think it achieves the sleek espionage feel of the first film, but it delivers on the action.

In this installment, a retired Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is drawn back into IMF business when his former trainee (Keri Russell) is kidnapped by arms dealer, Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman). With a team of operatives (Ving Rhames, Maggie Q, Jonathan Rhys Meyers) at his disposal, Hunt takes on Davian, who is involved with a dangerous weapon known as the "Rabbit's Foot."

But Ethan's double identity quickly endangers the life of his fiancée Julia (Michelle Monaghan). He must now find the Rabbit's Foot, save Julia, and bring down Davian, all the while up against some corrupt IMF agents.

I enjoyed the action, and some of the film's twists actually surprised me. A few of the spy gadgets were neat, albeit total bullshit (e.g., a computer that makes a mask on the spot).

No one in the main cast particularly wow'ed me. I really liked Billy Crudup, who plays a smaller role as an IMF agent and old friend of Hunt. The even bigger scene stealer - whose screen time is also WAY too short - is Simon Pegg. As the token computer geek, he has the most overdone spy-film role ever, but he makes it hilarious. God bless Simon Pegg and everything he does.

Most of the film get tiresome because scene after scene goes like this: Ethan must steal something -> Ethan & co. scheme the theft -> Ethan steals it -> Ethan narrowly escapes. Lots of gunfire and explosions therein.

The most impressive thing Abrams did with this film was break that monotony with a single, great moment: probably the most important scene of the film, and probably the one theft scene we really should see, we do not see at all. Instead, Abrams leaves the camera with Ethan's crew in the van, and all we see is Ethan go in, then after a few minutes, Ethan frantically leaping through a window with his prize. The audience is left wondering what the hell just happened in there, but the tease is wonderful! The scene was expertly done and kudos to Abrams for choosing NOT to show it.

Overall, I liked the movie. I'm not a fan of the M:I franchise in general, so I couldn't really dive into this one. Abrams did a good job, and yes, it is miles better than the last film. I just don't think it is the cinematic Messiah that fanboys made it out to be.