Mission: Impossible III (2006) – Review

3 Stars

T.V. director J.J. Abrams makes his feature film debut with the third installment in the Mission Impossible franchise. This entry is a slam-bang action thriller; throwing plausibility out of the window early on and reveling in the techno-gadgetry that makes the series so appealing. Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is aided this time out by series regular Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), as well as two new operatives on the IMF team. The MacGuffin in this episode is called ‘the rabbits foot’, a mysterious device that can cause a doomsday affect. Abrams and his writers have wisely chosen to treat the object as a perfunctory part of the storyline. The real focus in the screenplay by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, is on the relationship between Hunt and his fiancee, Rachel.

This genre relies more than any other on presenting an effective villain. In Mission Impossible III we have Owen Davian, played by the Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman. This is the second time Cruise and Hoffman have shared the screen together; after the much different film Magnolia. Here the two seem to relish in their screen roles; Cruise looking abnormally fit for a man in his late 40′s and Hoffman oozing sinister charm makes for a compelling protagonist/antagonist combination. Look for a very amusing and well staged sequence in which Cruise and Hoffman, switch identities during a kidnapping at the Vatican. The supporting cast is top notch; Billy Crudup and Laurence Fishburne are well cast as superior officers in the IMF branch.

Mission Impossible III arrived on the heels of the press revolt against the once untouchable Tom Cruise. Ironically, the subsequent fallout at the box-office began with this picture and ended with the fourth installment some five years later. One pleasure of this series is that each sequel has felt like a stand-alone film. Sure, each features the same leading man; however the addition of a new director on subsequent installments has kept the franchise fresh. This outing is not as good as the John Woo directed second entry, but it is a lot more coherent and fun than the first film.

Director: J.J. Abrams
Stars: Tom Cruise, Michelle Monaghan, Ving Rhames

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