A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Mission: Impossible III

February 21, 2011

Mission: Impossible III

Another tale of daring do with Ethan Hunt of the IMF and another amazing director makes the movie his own. Tonight it’s J.J. Abrams taking over the reigns. His vision of Mission Impossible is dark, gritty, suspenseful and compelling. Right from the very start we know that this isn’t going to be a light-hearted action romp – it’s a high stakes movie where everything has the potential to go very, very wrong.

After the hook – what I recognize to be a very Abrams opening that grabs the audience and gets them invested in the movie – we join Ethan in his semi-retirement. He is no longer in the field – he trains agents now and is planning to get married to a woman named Julia that he met while skydiving. She is a civilian – a doctor – and not part of the spy world. He’s not part of that life any more. Until he gets a call at an engagement dinner he’s holding because one of the agents he trained is in trouble. So he has to come out of retirement for one last job.

Of course not everything goes to plan. We know it won’t because in the opening hook to the movie Hunt is tied up and forced to watch as the heartless arms dealer Owen Davian threatens to kill Julia right in front of him if he doesn’t deliver something called the “rabbit’s foot.” Most of this movie shows the events that lead up to this state of affairs.

I’m really enjoying how these movies are each so distinct. There’s no real effort to keep them consistent between films aside from having Tom Cruise and Ving Rhames and using the facial replacement trick. This movie pulls no punches. It delivers great action. It gives us some fun IMF spy action and some more hard hitting spy adventure that seems inspired by the Bourne movies. Gone is the grinning, cocky, annoying Ethan Hunt. Here he’s beaten, desperate and dangerous, which is actually far more interesting to watch I think.

My favorite bit in the whole film was when they showed the IMF team making one of their ubiquitous masks. We’ve seen the masks torn off multiple times in every one of these movies, but it was pretty cool actually seeing one manufactured and applied. It’s a lot of fun to see an IMF mission going off as planned with all the cool gadgets and split second timing.

I was also thrilled with the new acting talent Cruise and company brought in for this installment. We get Laurence Fishburne as the head of IMF, where he brings a lot of intensity and power, adding to the danger Ethan faces even at home. For comic relief we have Simon Pegg who is always fun for a laugh and would go on to work with Abrams again on the new Star Trek movie. (I kept seeing his tech-head character Benji here as a modern day Montgomery Scott.) Best of all we have Philip Seymour Hoffman as Davian. He is absolutely terrifying from the very start of the film. Hoffman is an unbelievable actor and this role is so sinister and deadly that it’s wonderful to watch him at work. You never doubt for an instant that he’s capable of the most heinous crime – that he’ll kill anybody with no emotion whatsoever. Terrifying.

These movies continue to amaze me. That an old spy adventure show from the sixties could give rise to such a collection of different movies, each with its own tone and feel, baffles me. None of them really capture the feel of the old show, but they’ve done something different. They’ve created a completely new and exciting franchise. I see that Brad Bird is directing the fourth instalment, which is due to hit theaters next year. I can’t wait to see what his live-action debut looks like.

February 21, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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