DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III (director/writer: J. J. Abrams; screenwriters: Alex Kurtzman/Roberto Orci/based on the television series created by Bruce Geller; cinematographer: Dan Mindel; editors: Maryann Brandon/Mary Jo Markey; music: Michael Giacchino/"Mission: Impossible Theme" by Lalo Schifrin; cast: Tom Cruise (Ethan Hunt), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Owen Davian), Ving Rhames (Luther), Billy Crudup (Musgrave), Michelle Monaghan (Julia), Maggie Q (Zhen), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Declan), Keri Russell (Lindsey Farris), Laurence Fishburne (Theodore Brassel); Runtime: 126; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Tom Cruise/Paula Wagner; Paramount Pictures; 2006)

 
"It might have enough flash to please those who crave such entertainment films and don't mind if the story is nonsensical."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The money making enterprise continues with its third mindless action-packed venture, maybe slightly better than the other duds (you be the judge!), with former TV director J. J. Abrams (he also wrote the script with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci) given the honor in his debut to direct the smug superstar Tom Cruise (gosh, if he could only act without looking so artificial I might even forgive him for being such an ass in public!), who reprises his super-spy Ethan Hunt role as an agent for IMF, a CIA type of agency, in another round of gadgets, pyrotechnics, latex mask tricks and action speaks louder than words blockbuster thriller. I found little to be thrilled about and thought it was a waste of time following a plot that wasn't worth anything in the end. The nonstop action takes us to such diverse places as Berlin, Vatican City and Shanghai. But don't ask why! 

This episode has Ethan engaged to sweet nurse Julia (Michelle Monaghan), who is unaware her fiancé is a spy thinking he's a Houston highway traffic control engineer (so much for truth mattering in a relationship!). As soon as they get married Ethan is called away from his job as a spy trainer and returned to the field by his immediate boss, operation manager Musgrave (Billy Crudup), in a rescue mission of his former student, Lindsey Farris (Keri Russell), now an operative taken hostage in a Berlin factory by sadistic baddie black market international arms dealer Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Now this guy Hoffman can act and even in his one-dimensional role as a heavy, he outshines Cruise when they are on the screen together. And so does Laurence Fishburne, who plays Brassel, the imperious big boss of IMF, suspected of being a turncoat. 

Ethan hooks up with old crew members Luther (Ving Rhames) and Zhen (Maggie Q), and newcomer Declan (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). The operation is not completely successful, as Lindsey dies after the rescue. But she leaves only the trustworthy Ethan a message on a chip that there's a mole among the ranking IMF personnel. This leads to Ethan going on an unauthorized dangerous assignment to capture Davian while he's attending an affair at the Vatican. When the team marvelously snags the ruthless baddie at the affair, they discover he's dealing with something called a Rabbit's Foot, which one of the bright boys at IMF explains just might be an Anti-God Compound, a byproduct of techie advancement, which can be employed to destroy the world.

To make things spicy Davian escapes with a little help from his associates and carries out his threat to take Julia hostage. The film is framed around the opening scene, before even the credits, when Ethan is in the hands of Davian, who is told Julia will be killed unless he tells where is the Rabbit's Foot and it doesn't return to that point until about a half an hour from the end. The problem is the long wait between the exciting setup and the payoff, that is filled with the usual stuff one comes to expect from this big-budget update of the 1970s spy series. 

By the conclusion, after numerous people are killed in all sorts of violent ways, Ethan asks Brassel "What is the Rabbit's Foot?"

It might have enough flash to please those who crave such entertainment films and don't mind if the story is nonsensical, the dialogue futile, that there's no character development, the romance between the leads is mechanical without any emotional impact, that the energetic Cruise might do his own stunts (aping Tarzan by swinging over the rooftops of Shanghai) but he's still too obnoxious (in real life and not able to get into character to change that negative image) to take as a squeaky clean action hero and that the film is disposable.

REVIEWED ON 5/8/2006        GRADE: C

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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