Mission: Accepted – Mission: Impossible 3

Posted: July 21, 2014 by moviebuff801 in moviebuff801's Movie Reviews, Time Capsule Reviews

Release Date: May 5th, 2006

Running Time: 2 hours and 5 minutes

Written by: J.J. Abrams & Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman

Directed by: J.J. Abrams

Starring: Tom Cruise, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Michelle Monaghan, Laurence Fishburne

By: Michael “MovieBuff801” Dennos

Man, J.J. Abrams sure knows how to make an action film. He also happens to know how to make a Mission: Impossible film, because not only is his Mission: Impossible 3 a fine example of the former, it’s the best offering of the super-spy franchise to date. I know, I know — many would claim that the follow-up, Ghost Protocol, would earn said distinction, but there’s just something about the way this third film plays the game with such efficiency, skill and sheer excitement that, for me, makes it overshadow the “bigger” fourth film considerably. I’d also say that Mission: Impossible 3 is both worthy and capable of going toe-to-toe with a lot of the better James Bond movies, but that may be beside the point. What you really should be taking away with you here is that this is a very damn good action movie, the work of people who clearly have a firm grasp on genre storytelling.

Unlike the last two films, when Mission: Impossible 3 opens, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is not an active field agent anymore. Instead, he’s retired from being a full-time operative to become a training officer for hopeful new IMF recruits, which certainly has a positive effect on his engagement to Julia Meade (Michelle Monaghan), a trained nurse who thinks Ethan works in the traffic business. But Ethan’s suburban bliss is rudely interrupted when IMF Operations Director John Musgrave (Billy Crudup) reaches out to him with the hope that Ethan will come back for just one assignment: to rescue a kidnapped operative, Lindsey Farris, (Keri Russell) that Ethan trained who’s in the custody of a ruthless arms dealer named Owen Davian (Phillip Seymour Hoffman). Of course, what’s meant to be a simple rescue mission goes awry, and Ethan then finds himself entrenched in what Lindsey was involved in when tracking Davian. It turns out that Davian is in the middle of acquiring a mysterious weapon known only as The Rabbit’s Foot, and Ethan figures if they can intercept Davian and also acquire The Rabbit’s Foot in the process, then they can prevent a possible conflict with another country. Along for the mission are Ethan’s team members, Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), Zhen Lei (Maggie Q) and Declan Gormley (Jonathan Rhys Meyers).

In my reviews of the first two Mission: Impossible movies, I kept bringing up how the success of films like these ultimately boils down to how well-executed they are, and yet again, that’s the case here. The plot may not be anything new, deep or original, but then again, we don’t watch movies like Mission: Impossible 3 with expectations for a deep and thoughtful storyline … at least, on average. We come to a movie like this for the thrills, the action and the energy; Mission: Impossible 3 has plenty of all that to go around and delivers on those fronts in a professionally polished manner. There’s not one adrenaline-fueled moment or even one seemingly recycled action movie trope here that feels arbitrary because the execution of it all is full of the kind of conviction that makes the movie really good, maybe even better than it should’ve been in the first place.

I think the execution works so well mainly because of the script, so let’s talk about that for a minute. It’s penned by director J.J. Abrams himself, along with co-writers Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman, and I’d say it’s probably the best writing for a genre movie the latter two have done over the course of their career so far. One thing in particular that I appreciate about this script is how tightly-structured the story is; in fact, as far as action movies go, the structure of Mission: Impossible 3 is, dare I say, great. There doesn’t seem to be any or unnecessary scenes anywhere in it, with even the quieter moments fueling character progression in some form, and as a result, the film has a very smooth pacing to it. It jumps from action set piece to cool, espionage driven sequences and character moments effortlessly, showcasing a grasp on the genre that’s very welcome when compared to others of similar ilk which oftentimes feel mechanical in comparison. Plus, the way that the plot is built around obtaining The Rabbit’s Foot is just yet another way that this franchise continually echoes the works of Hitchcock in various forms; The Rabbit’s Foot is your classic MaGuffin. But a more accurate comparison befitting Mission: Impossible 3 is how it compares to J.J. Abrams’ own TV show Alias, which in itself borrowed from this very franchise and is what got Abrams the directing gig and Orci & Kurtzman writing duties. The comparisons in that respect don’t bother me because I liked Alias so much, and this movie feels simultaneously like an Alias movie and a Mission: Impossible movie, and it works.

Another good aspect of the script is how, this time around, it gives Ethan a much more personal stake in the mission. Through a series of unfortunate events, Julia becomes involved in everything and it lends the story a more immediate and desperate quality. Not only does it provide Tom Cruise with some good material that enhances his performance slightly, it makes the proceedings in the second half more exciting because Cruise and Michelle Monaghan display really sweet chemistry together and also because Monaghan herself makes Julia a likable character. Ethan isn’t just trying to save the world this time out, he’s also trying to save the woman he loves, and that helps distinguish Mission: Impossible 3 a bit more from the first two films. Then you’ve got Phillip Seymour Hoffman playing the franchise’s best villain so far. Owen Davian is never over-exploited and Hoffman lends the character a truly menacing quality whenever he’s on-screen, so much so that he makes you want to see Davian meet his demise — in a good way. Laurence Fishburne is also in this movie as IMF Head Ted Brassell, and even though he’s saddled with lines like, “This is intelligence. So far, I haven’t seen any,” Fishburne still makes for a nice presence. This is also where Simon Pegg made his first appearance in the franchise and he’s good, and the team of Rhames, Maggie Q and Rhys Meyers has proven to be my favorite M:I team thus far.

Finally, we’ve got the action sequences, all of which are lent an intense and frantic style by J.J. Abrams, but I want to single out another sequence in the film: the Vatican break-in. This is an enormously entertaining sequence which has the feel of a true Mission: Impossible sequence, featuring fast editing, cool gadgets and an exciting score. By the way, composer Michael Giacchino provides here in this film what I think is the franchise’s best musical score. All in all, I think J.J. Abrams was a very wise choice to direct this film.

Mission: Impossible 3, again, may not break any new ground, but instead retreads familiar ground in the most exciting way possible, making for what’s in my mind, the best possible Mission: Impossible film.

***1/2 /****

  1. ianthecool says:

    I like this review. You’ve broken the film down well.

  2. CMrok93 says:

    This is where the franchise started to get a whole lot better and more serious with its movies. Good review.

  3. Pure movie fluff with a big star , but if you accept that its a good movie worth watching

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