Mission: Impossible 3

After a torturous production that stopped and started far too many times, Mission:  Impossible III makes its way onto screens.  The musical chair game of directors now lands on J.J. Abrams, who got the job primarily because of his work on Alias.  Abrams has an impressive resume for television (he created Alias, Lost, and Felicity), and has only dabbled in writing for the big screen (Joy Ride, Armageddon).  He brings the ability to create a labyrinthine, exciting plot to the screen coupled with humanity and characterization.  The Mission: Impossible series has plenty of the former, and is in dire need of the latter.

To accomplish this, Abrams now has Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise, War of the Worlds, Collateral) out of the field training agents.  His fiancee Julia (Michelle Monaghan, North Country, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) believes he works for the Department of Transportation.  His past rears its ugly head when his old boss John Muskgrave (Billy Crudup, Stage Beauty, Big Fish) informs him that one of his past trainees, Lindsey Ferris (Keri Russell, The Upside of Anger, We Were Soldiers), was kidnapped.  Hunt rejoins with Luther Strickell (Ving Rhames, Dawn of the Dead, Dark Blue), Declan (Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Match Point, Alexander) and Zhen (Maggie Q, Around the World in 80 Days, Magic Kitchen) to mount a rescue operation.  Of course, things can never be this easy.

Ferris had some information about a man named Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote, Along Came Polly), who was after something called "the rabbit's foot."  Davian is a criminal mastermind responsible for all sorts of naughty things, so Hunt decides to go after him.  After an aborted attempt, Davian kidnaps Julia.  This is a lot of plot, but it gets more complicated from there.  Abrams and co-writers Alex Kurtzman (Legend of Zorro, The Island) and Roberto Orci threw in the Julia character to show how it would unhinge the Hunt character.  Ethan Hunt is a great agent.  He's calm, calculated, professional, and apparently quite the sprinter.  Now, with the life of his fiancee in danger, all his professionalism goes out the window.  It's personal.

The problem is, this doesn't really work.  Abrams throws together a quick back story for Ethan and Julia, but it's too difficult believing that Hunt could be swayed so easily, or that he would even allow emotions to take over so quickly.  The real villain is pretty obvious, and the story turns into pure formula.  But that really isn't the point.  MI3 works as a brainless summer popcorn movie.  There are plenty of spectacular stunts, and the locations go from the United States to Vatican City to Shanghai.  Cruise insisted on doing his own stunts, some of which probably gave insurers heart attacks.  The movie is exhilarating, but it is also empty.  The thin emotional story is lost amidst a cacophony of explosions, shootouts, and elaborate action sequences.  They look great, but just come one after another.  And frankly, the movie would probably be a bit better if it were more of a team effort.  Rhames has a little more screen time this time around, but Rhys Meyers and Q are just eye candy. It's fun, but mindless. And surprisingly, a step down from Abrams' work on Alias.

Haro Rates It: Not Bad.
2 hours, 6 minutes, Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of frenetic violence and menace, disturbing images, and some sensuality.

Back to Movies