And now for the first review in what has turned out to be a J.J. Abrams double feature, Mission: Impossible 3.
J.J. Abrams, creator of small-screen hits ALIAS and LOST, makes his feature film debut with the third installment of this successful series based on the hit 1960s television show. Secret Agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has decided to take it easy and lead a somewhat normal life. He's even found his perfect woman, Julia (Michelle Monaghan), and is engaged. But when newbie agent Lindsey Farris (Keri Russell)--whom Hunt mentored--goes missing while on assignment, the reluctant agent finds himself back in business. Soon, with his old buddy Luther (Ving Rhames) in tow, along with team members Zhen (Maggie Q) and Declan (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), Hunt is traversing the globe on the trail of Farris's captor, Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman), an elusive international weapons dealer. The stakes increase when the villainous Davian gets a hold of Hunt's fiancee and uses her as a bargaining chip. A raucous combination of spectacular chases, explosions, amazing stunts, and elaborate schemes takes the Impossible Mission Force (IMF) team to Berlin, the Vatican, and Shanghai. With fascinating hi-tech tools these secret agents can impersonate virtually anyone, scale walls in an instant, infiltrate the tightest security system, and blow up the evidence when they're done. But facing their most formidable foe ever, Hunt and his fellow agents are fighting the clock to keep Julia alive and get Davian the mysterious weapon he is demanding. Cruise's personal involvement in the stunts lends a nice air of authenticity to Hunt, who also shows his emotional side in this outing as he juggles his secret life and his new love, as well as possible betrayal by someone inside the IMF. Laurence Fishburne also stars as IMF's Director Brassel, and Billy Crudup appears as his somewhat timid right-hand man, Musgrave.
For Mission: Impossible 3, Alias writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci team up with Alias director J.J. Abrams, Alias composer Michael Giacchino and Alias editors Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey to move from a small-budget spy TV show to a big-budget action blockbuster spy movie. Oh, and Tom Cruise is involved in there somewhere.
Although this is the Bad Robot crew's first attempt at an action film on this scale, they do a very commendable job that is better than, not only Mission: Impossible 2 (which was pants), but possibly even the original film.
Although Tom Cruise acts as Producer, the guys from Bad Robot truely make this film their own, adding their trademark mystery-for-the-sake-of-mystery mysteries, as well as some subtle references to Lost and a ridiculous number of tense countdown sequences. Whilst not a perfect movie by general standards, this film is perfect with a massive tub of popcorn and a comfy sofa. This sequel is also a marked improvement over the previous instalments action-wise, but it also brings some emotion to the proceedings, allowing ample opportunity for Tom Cruise's intense face.
Whilst J.J. Abrams occasionally suffers from pacing issues at a couple of moments in the film, his ability to stage a brilliant action sequence with a number of elements in play is clearly on show, especially during the 'epic' bridge sequence midway through the film. He manages to get across important information during these scenes, even though he films a tonne of it out of focus and in Bourne shakey-cam stylee.
Michael Giacchino provides a more-than-adequate if not memorable score for the film, making excellent,but sparing, use of Lalo Schifrin's Mission Impossible Theme, whilst providing the standard action music with a tad more emotional heft than has been done previously.
Philip Seymour-Hoffman is effective as the menacing lead villain, although in typical Mission Impossible style, the number of fake-outs and double-crosses in the plot does become a wee bit silly. Speaking of silly, fear not for the film does also contain the required cringe-worthy one-liners scattered liberally throughout.
Overall, the film is brilliant for a thoroughly enjoyable two hours of action escapism, but doesn't really extend much further than that.
Here are the ratings:
Overall: 8 (not an average)
Overall: 8 (not an average)