"Mission: Impossible III" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
After a nearly-abysmal entry into Tom Cruise's "Mission: Impossible" franchise, I'm sure it made Paramount reconsider the direction the franchise was going in. Because of this, they waited around six years later to put out "Mission: Impossible III", bringing in J.J. Abrams to direct this installment and renowned actor Phillip Seymour-Hoffman to portray the antagonist in the film, against Cruise's Ethan Hunt. While this is definitely a step in the right direction, the movie is simply too serious and edgy at times, trying to not make the same mistakes as its predecessor, but also trying to push the envelope all the same.
Ethan is now retired from field work for the IMF, settling for training new recruits so he can have a life outside of work. This includes marrying his longtime girlfriend, Julia (Michelle Monaghan). However, when a rescue mission for one of his protégés pushes him out of retirement, he must now fully come out of retirement to avenge her death. What he learns is that an evil man named Owen Davian (Hoffman) is trying to obtain the Rabbit's Foot, a biological hazard that could wreck the world and its environment.
By doing this, not only does he simply make Davian very upset, but he starts a personal war with the madman, leading him to not only threaten Ethan's life, but those he cares about. Now concerned for his new wife's safety, he turns to his old friend Luther (Ving Rhames) and computer programmer Benji (Simon Pegg) to help him find Davian, obtain the Rabbit's Foot, and save everyone he cares about.
This is the feature film directorial debut for Abrams, and looking at this movie as a whole, that's honestly very impressive. He was hired to tackle this movie at the behest of Cruise, who enjoyed his work on television. Abrams was practically sucked into this vortex, now having this huge franchise on his hands that he must continue on and right the wrongs from the second film. I do think he delivered an enjoyable action thriller, whose primary focus is on the hunt for a man and trying to save the main characters. However, as a spy thriller which these films are still being billed under, I don't think it really hits the mark.
The movie is very concerned with its action sequences, trying to up the ante every chance they get. But, where is the motivation from the villain? Where are the twists and turns at every corner? Where is the spy aspect of it? It seemed like these were all traded for a more action-heavy film, focusing primarily on Ethan's hunt for Owen. It is more like "The Fugitive" than it is a spy thriller like the first entry in this franchise.
While the action aspect of it is done very well, the story could have been improved quite a bit. While the second film was more goofy and cheesy at various times, this movie is strictly very serious. Pegg is known for his comedic work, and there is some of that here, but it is simply just very serious. After this movie, the filmmakers working on these films start to understand that the spy thriller aspects of this movie work with the subtle comedy, but this film simply doesn't really have much of that, which I think it could have heavily benefited from.
Cruise gives a badass performance as Ethan Hunt here, making him seem like an indestructible killing machine. He is simply just awesome and tons of fun to watch on the screen, and it is easily a good time when he is present. At the same time, I think Rhames and Pegg are great as their characters, and just show a glimpse of what they will become later on in the franchise. Perhaps one of the best things here though is Hoffman's performance, who gives this chilling and heartless performance. It is honestly terrifying in a way to see how someone could be this cruel and evil, and Hoffman pulls it off perfectly.
I definitely think this movie is a step in the right direction for the franchise. While I don't think it is as good as the first entry, and definitely not as good as the future films in the franchise, it is still a very enjoyable action blockbuster that does what it needs to do to be a compelling and fun film as a whole.