I have to admit, I had very low expectations for this film going in to it. The first film had some fun moments, but overall was not spectacular, and the second Mission: Impossible film was pretty ordinary. I am glad this series made it to a third instalment, though, as this is far and away superior to either of the first two films, and opens the door for the very awesome fourth film.
What sets Mission: Impossible 3 apart from the first two films is the fact that we finally get to know Ethan Hunt a little better. He was very much a mystery in the past, for the audience as well as in the films. We knew very little about his life away from doing impossible missions. That all changed when J.J. Abrams, in his directorial debut, took on the third Mission: Impossible movie. We are reintroduced to a recently engaged Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise). He has retired from the impossible mission business and now trains the next generation of spies for IMF (Impossible Mission Force). When one of his best students (Keri Russell) is taken hostage, Hunt comes out of retirement to rescue his former student. Along the way, Hunt gets caught up in the search for ‘the Rabbit’s Foot’ and must stop arms dealer Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman) from selling it on the black market. As the mission unfolds, Davian uncovers all of Hunt’s personal information, putting his bride-to-be Julia (Michelle Monaghan) in danger.
Getting to know more about Hunt’s personal life really raises the stakes in this film. In the previous movies, Hunt was never this invested in any of the outrageous stunts he had to do. It changes things dramatically now that he has so much to lose if he is not able to find the Rabbit’s Foot and rescue Julia. I really liked seeing more of Hunt’s personal story. It was a cool, if somewhat unoriginal, way to let the character of Ethan Hunt grow. Cruise is great again in the role, I have said many times in my reviews of his films that he is definitely a movie star. Say what you will about the man and his life off-camera, he has a charisma that not many actors today do.
As with any of these films, they are generally only as good as the villain, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman is perfect for the role. Although he is not able to physically go toe-to-toe with Cruise, it does not prevent him from turning Ethan Hunt’s life upside down when he wants too. I loved Hoffman’s performance and watching this film again is a reminder that he was taken from us far too soon.
My only real problem with this film is the fact that we never actually find out what the Rabbit’s Foot is. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter though. We are told it is dangerous and small enough to be carried in a brief case. For the audience that is enough, especially when the stakes are raised by Davian targeting Ethan’s fiancée.
I really enjoyed Mission: Impossible 3. It was a fresh and entertaining entry to a series that needed some life breathed back into it after a lacklustre second effort.
OK, I’m starting to see the appeal of this franchise.
Mission: Impossible 3 is the first of the series that managed to hold my attention. This may have something to do with J.J. Abrams joining as both director and screenwriter. Abrams consistently kills it, and his turn here is no different. M:I-3 is engaging in a way that the first two were not, despite indulging in some spy genre cliches.
This time around Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is retired, but gets dragged back into the spy game when his protege is kidnapped while investigating a mysterious object known as the “Rabbit’s Foot.” Along the way Hunt’s fiancée (Michelle Monaghan) is kidnapped and ransomed, because that’s what usually happens in these movies.
Despite predictable turns of event like these, I still found myself enjoying the film thanks to a great cast. In fact, that’s the one thing this franchise consistently delivers on. Everyone is at the top of their game and look great dodging bullets, hacking computers, and fighting in hand-to-hand combat. From what I hear Cruise is a real pro, get it on the first take kind of actor. Those skills would be appreciated on any set, but likely is part of the reason Hollywood keeps handing him big budget action roles where each take costs tens of thousands of dollars.
In fact, my only real criticism of this movie is that it doesn’t seem to have a memorable action sequence that the Mission: Impossible franchise is known for. The moments that stand out in my mind are small and quiet, usually involving just Cruise and Monaghan. Sure, one the scenes involves Monaghan’s character getting shot, but that’s hardly a “hanging from an airplane” moment.
Mission: Impossible 3 is a vast improvement over the second installment and much better than the first. This is one of the few franchises that gets better as it goes along, in my opinion, and M:I-3 is the first hint at the jaw dropping action that is to come.