Good evening, Mr. Cruise. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to continue a film franchise that appears to still be struggling to find its own voice and style, and thus continually attempts to reinvent itself with every installment. What began as a popular television series has been reinterpreted to the point where the movies sharing its name can be said to contain only minimal homages to the original.
Mission: Impossible, the first film, tossed aside the characterizations in the original show to ensure moviegoers were never sure just who the good guys or bad guys were until the very end. Add in truly tense moments, top-of-the-line special effects, and lots of cool spy gadgetry, and you had a very enjoyable, cerebral action film where the thrills stemmed not just from the stunts at hand, but just as much from the psychological suspense.
In Mission: Impossible 2, all that was chucked out the window to shower the film with birds, guns, and people all flying through the air nearly constantly. I honestly can’t remember too much more about the film other than it was an overly stylistic and choreographed disappointment, wherein nothing seemed to touch the ground for very long.
Now available on DVD, HD DVD, and Blu Ray, Mission: Impossible 3 is a forgettable action film that regains some of what made the original movie so enjoyable, but not enough to save it from nearly self-destructing.
This time around, Ethan Hunt (Cruise) makes the mistake of falling in love and getting married to Julia (Michelle Monaghan) at the beginning of the film. There are a few earnestly tense moments when Hunt first comes face-to-face with the film’s villain, arms dealer Owen Davian (played adequately by Phillip Seymour Hoffman), and Hunt realizes his actions have put Julia’s life in jeopardy. Once Davian gains the upper hand — early in the movie, you knew he was going to — he forces Hunt and his team to obtain a highly-guarded, mysterious item referred to only as the “rabbit’s foot,” in exchange for Julia’s life. Of course, as this is a Mission: Impossible story, things may not always turn out to be as they initially seem.
Probably the worst word one can toss at an action film is “boring,” and, sadly, that’s exactly what Mission: Impossible 3 becomes at several points. When there isn’t any action onscreen, things can feel a little dull, but even more damning is the fact that many of the action sequences also devolve into tedium. The problem with these action sequences is that there is so much going on at any one time, none of it very clearly defined, that the mass of explosions and stunts becomes too much at once and all just ends up a sort of white noise that’s surprisingly easy to tune out.
The best scenes in the film deal with the initial kidnapping of Davian. Here, not only do we get to see some background on how exactly those fantastic masks (one of the only staples to survive each film installment) are made, but we also get to watch a sincerely tense and exciting plan play out. Sure, it may be a sequence highly reminiscent of the famous scene in the original film, where Hunt has to transfer computer files in a highly guarded room in a very short period of time, but it’s still fun.
Sadly, the rest of the film doesn’t live up to the enjoyment of those few scenes.
The film’s two-disc DVD release contains a bevy of the usual fluffy DVD mini-documentaries, here describing the casting, music, special effects, stunts, etc., each in their own features. There’s also audio commentary by Cruise and director J.J. Abrams on the film, deleted scenes, and a feature called “Excellence In Film,” which consists entirely of clips of Cruise acting in the various films spanning his career so far.
Ultimately, Mission: Impossible 3 an “extremely okay” film I would recommend only to hard-core action fans desperate for a quick fix of something new.