Y’know, I have a confession to make – I don’t much care about Tom Cruise’s personal life. I’m a movie buff, and I’ve mostly enjoyed Cruise and the kinetic energy he brings to his roles. But once he’s off the movie screen, I’m not interested in his marriage, his religion, or his appearances on Oprah.
The Cruise backlash perpetrated by gossip columnists is one of those things we’re all kind of aware of, like a mosquito buzzing in your ear. Yeah, Katie Holmes, yeah, jumping on couch, yeah, yeah, yeah. But the bottom line for me still is – how are the man’s movies?
Well, the summer-season opener Mission: Impossible 3 won’t be remembered as Cruise’s finest film, but it certainly gets the job done. Directed and co-written by Lost co-creator J.J. Abrams, it’s the best movie of a series that’s mostly failed to live up to its considerable potential. The first Mission: Impossible was convoluted to the extreme, the second so over-the-top it got absurd. By adding a much-needed human dimension to Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, a strong supporting cast and a straightforward story, M:I3 delivers its summer-movie punch.
We know what to expect of these missions by now – that rousing theme music, intricate sequences of cat-and-mouse spy games, fancy technology, impossibly realistic disguises, lots of things blowing up. Abrams does what he can to use all these tools and still shakes up the “formula” a bit, especially with an opening sequence that’s startling and savage.
Ethan Hunt is trying to settle down – in the previous movies, we never even realized he had a life outside of the action, but here, he’s got a lovely civilian fiancee (Michelle Monaghan) who thinks he works for the Department of Transportation.
Hunt’s no longer a field agent for the super-secret Impossible Mission Force, but when a former protégé of his (Keri Russell) is captured by international arms dealer Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman), everything changes. Davian’s a brutal, uncompromising villain, and his willingness to up the ante makes this a fight more personal than any Hunt’s ever faced.