Directed by: J. J. Abrams
Written by: J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci
Starring: Tom Cruise, Michelle Monaghan, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames, Billy Crudup, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell, Simon Pegg, Maggie Q, Laurence Fishburne
Runtime: 127 min
The third entry in the Mission: Impossible film series involves Impossible Mission Forces (IMF) agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) being forced back into the field just when he was planning on marrying his girlfriend, Julia (Michelle Monaghan).
His mission, should he choose to accept it, is to capture Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a dangerous weapons dealer who is selling a toxic weapon. Eventually, Davian makes things personal, and Hunt has to protect the ones he cares about.
I am resuming my reviews of the Mission: Impossible franchise, anticipating the release of Mission: Impossible – Fallout, which comes out a few days from now. My thoughts on Mission: Impossible and Mission: Impossible II are already written, and you can click on the titles to read my reviews for those movies. After a massive decline in quality from M:I-1 to M:I-2, this third installment picks the saga back up!
There are a lot of aspects improved based on the previous films. First of all, the action. This might be THE movie where the stunt work really achieved jaw-dropping levels. From Cruise's epic runs throughout the streets of Shangai (just a single take!) to the astonishingly filmed money shots, J.J. Abrams makes an impressive debut since this was his first feature film. He knows how to incorporate the actors with the visual effects and this time everything looks incredibly realistic and riveting. This movie has the best action of the first three films, by far.
Second of all, the characters. J.J. Abrams brings back the original Ethan Hunt, the one that is not a copycat of James Bond (looking at you M:I-2). Everything about this character's arc makes sense, and his relationship with Julia provides some nail-biting suspenseful moments in the third act, where Michelle Monaghan also shines. Tom Cruise obviously continues to be the star of the franchise, but finally, there is a decent villain ...
Philip Seymour Hoffman delivers an exceptional performance as the bad guy. That's just what he is: a bad guy. His character does not get any development, but Hoffman picks up his depthless script and surprisingly makes it work. He is the best villain in the franchise so far, and he is connected to the most suspenseful scene in the movie. Ving Rhames returns as Luther, as well as the character's humorous personality. With so much action and tense moments, it is a breath of relief to be able to smile or even laugh with Rhames' lines.
Third and final, the pacing. The second film is an ultimate bore. This one, I even understand people who say that it has too much action and it all comes too fast ... Because it does. The frenetic pacing from the first movie is back, and it goes up a gear or two. There is not a single moment to rest between scenes, and that might be an issue for some, but for me, I needed it after the tedious M:I-2. Dull moments are nonexistent, and the excitement is always at high levels. That is what I call entertainment!
Nevertheless, it does has some flaws regarding the plot. Besides being very predictable, its structure bothers me a little. J.J. Abrams decides to begin the film with a scene that I don't really understand why he chose to put it there. I don't want to go into spoilers, but there are a couple of questionable decisions regarding the storyline that just don't quite make sense to me.
In addition to this, the story itself is pretty generic. The villain is only amazing due to Hoffman's performance since the script gives zero development. The plot twists are evident by the end of the first act, so they lose their impact towards the end. However, the thing that kind of ruined a perfect ending (still a great ending though) is how they handle Michelle's character. I will just say that it becomes too nonsensical and extremely forced, and Julia is the reason behind it.
Despite its flaws, Mission: Impossible III brings the saga back to life with the best action of the entire franchise, some fantastic additions to its cast and a super exciting and riveting pacing. Tom Cruise provides some epic stunts, Philip Seymour Hoffman is the best villain so far, and Ving Rhames continues to be awesome. However, the plot is very generic, predictable and its structure makes some supposedly suspenseful scenes lose its emotional impact. It's a hair below M:I-1 but miles and miles above the awful M:I-2, thanks to J.J. Abrams incredible directorial debut, which is filled with phenomenal camera work, jaw-dropping stunts and a remarkable use of visual effects.