Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mission: Impossible 3

Director: J.J. Abrams
Screenplay by Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci based on the Bruce Geller TV series
Paramount Pictures

What makes a great action movie? For me, movies like Die Hard, generally considered one of the best of the genre of all time, establish a set of rules and then doesn't stray from them, so when the hero does something "impossible" we aren't sitting back muttering, "bullshit," and then get taken out of the movie altogether. Of course, keeping up with the action in an un-confusing way helps as well, as we've discussed with Paul Greengrass and his excellent job of The Bourne Supremacy and recently, United 93. The Mission: Impossible series, in its first two outings, violated common sense rules too often, even though I'm a big fan of De Palma's original (I wasn't too hot on John Woo's sequel). Making missions "impossible," it seemed as though the filmmakers wanted to make the action impossible as well (i.e., Ethan jumping from an exploding helicopter to a moving train)--I thought the spirit of the title suggested a more cerebral impossibility--trying to get your head around how to hack Langley's central computer and executing it; things like that.

And we have a very good man behind the wheels this time in J.J. Abrams, the man behind "Alias," to take a crack at the third Ethan Hunt adventure. He's also teamed with two "Alias" writers, and he's even got the show's composer Michael Giacchino doing the music. Yes, this Mission has a completely "Alias" feel. As in the TV show, Abrams decided to revolve a story around the complications of being a spy while trying to live a normal life. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) becomes Sydney Bristow. In this chapter, he is engaged to a woman named Julia (Michelle Monaghan) and he's got the "simple" part of his double life down pat--he's charming, he can throw a great party, Julia's friends love him, so on. Then he gets a call. He receives his new mission from John Musgrave (Billy Crudup)--it involves finding and extracting kidnapped agent Lindsey (Keri Russell) with the help of his IMF team Luther (Ving Rhames), Declan (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), and Zhen (Maggie Q).

Arms dealer Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is involved somehow, and when the mission ends and he hasn't been caught, this draws the ire of IMF director Brassel (Laurence Fishburne). So the next missions involve trying to locate Davian and take control of a black market weapon called The Rabbit's Foot that certainly would cause massive death in the wrong hands. All of this, eventually, puts Hunt's loved ones in danger.

J.J. Abrams certainly has the action down pat--there are several summer blockbuster blow-you-away sequences in this, and even though some of them approach that "bullshit" moment I was talking about earlier, it never goes over the line in my opinion--my favorite one takes place in Shanghai and it's white-knuckle action at its best. Philip Seymour Hoffman is a great villain--we saw a minor glimpse of that in Punch-Drunk Love a few years ago, but now he has a bigger part and he's great. I think it's safe to say he's never been bad in a movie. And yes, Crazy Tom adds his usual professional performance--if you can get by all the personal issues that have been brought up in the last year, then you can sit back and enjoy his typical underrated acting. Also, I have to mention Simon Pegg, who basically takes over for "Alias" vet Kevin Weisman (Marshall), and plays the nervous techy guy with the same panache. And if you like good-looking ladies then look no further than Monaghan, Russell, and freaking Maggie Q (who in her brief scenes can steal the show)--all gorgeous.

Summer 2006 has kicked off in an amazing way. Enjoy.


At 5/07/2006 10:46:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Brilliant shit; it really is. I saw it today, and no pun intended, was blown away. I was looking forward to it with Abrams at the helm, but I didn't expect it to be this entertaining. Hoffman, Rhames, Cruise, and Pegg are all top notch. No one really seems to be talking about Fishburne though, who I thought stole ever scene he was in. My favorite line from the film was one of his: "He's a goddamn invisible man. Wells, not Ellison if you're still thinking of being cute." Good stuff; hope everyone enjoys.

At 5/11/2006 12:19:00 AM, Blogger Matthew S. Urdan said...

Cool, thanks for the review...I was sitting on the fence if I wanted to see this I'll go tomorrow.

I've got a list up on my blog, right now...111 Must See Movies. Check it out and let me know what you think.

111 Must See Movies


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