A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 358 – Mission: Impossible III

Mission: Impossible III – February 21st, 2011

After last night’s mixed bag of a movie I was hesitant going into this one. Same franchise, but new writers and a new director, and a director I like. Still, the previous two movies had issues. And then we discovered we own the pan and scan version of this movie, which is so very sad. We have thoughts on pan and scan and they are not complimentary. So yes, hesitation here. And I’m happy to say that I found this movie to be the most enjoyable of the bunch. But still, I have some quibbles.

First of all, let’s address the plot, which is convoluted and full of twists, as expected. Of course there are double crosses and disguises and people aren’t who or what they seem to be at first. That’s par for the course in these movies. The masks are deployed several times, as is the voice changing tech. The specific storyline here involves a villain named Davian and his attempts to get his hands on something top secret. It also involves another rogue agent setting up Ethan and his friends/colleagues. And I do not think it is too much to ask that the IMF start screening their people better. I’m not going to bother going too far into detail because if I do I’ll be here all night. Suffice it to say that the bad guy kidnaps Ethan’s wife to force him to steal this top secret whatever (it’s a macguffin, we know it’s got biohazard tags and that’s about it) and Ethan’s got to do it in 48 hours or she dies and his superiors aren’t cooperating so he’s working on his own and he and his team do all sorts of wild stuff to get the job done.

I think I just described the last movie too, but really, this one does it better. A lot better. For one, I have absolutely no complaints about the treatment of the female leads. Sure, Ethan’s wife gets kidnapped and is a damsel in distress and all, but she also kicks a good deal of ass and never once did I feel that Ethan or his true allies were using her. Same goes for Zhen, one of his team, and Lindsey, his protege who shows up at the beginning. They are competent and bad-assed. In fact, aside from the damsel stuff, which is par for the course and I’m going to just cope and move on, this movie does a really nice job of treating all the characters as effective players in the plot and I really really like that. I like the current team, with Ving Rhames reprising his role as Luther and Maggie Q and Jonathan Rhys Myers as Zhen and Declan, his other two teammates. Also, there’s Simon Pegg as Benji, a techie who helps them out a few times. And I do so love Simon Pegg. Billy Crudup as Ethan’s immediate superior, Musgrave, and Laurence Fishburne as the higher up Brassel are both fantastic, and then there’s Philip Seymour Hoffman as the incredibly disconcerting villain, Davian. It’s a nice cast and I felt like really only Zhen and Declan got shorted a bit and mostly that’s an issue of there not being enough time to give them much more than basic roles. Still, they’re all treated with respect.

The plot itself is more than ridiculous. It’s all an excuse for lots of action and determined looks from Ethan. It’s certainly a lot more serious than the other two movies were, but the level of over-the-top action is the same. And I like the serious tone here. The movie starts out with a scene where our baddie is threatening a woman we will later find out is Ethan’s wife, while Ethan watches. He demands and answer and Ethan gives it to him again and again, to no avail. Those are high stakes and the movie then spends the rest of its time building you back to that point. Showing you how Ethan and Julia got there and what’s going on. It’s brutal. It’s meant to be like that. There’s no winking at convention here. There’s no smug grin. There’s just the mission and the twists and turns that it takes and Ethan’s determination to get it done. And that is my kind of spy movie. If you’re going to have movies where the bad guys kill people and fuck shit up, then go for it. Don’t tiptoe around it.

But then too, that’s where I quibble. Because while I did enjoy this movie and I liked the characters and the action and the grit, I’m not sure what makes it a Mission: Impossible movie aside from the masks and the names and the music. I think this might be an issue for the franchise as a whole, but then I don’t know the original series, so I could be way off. Still, this movie isn’t quite like the second movie which wasn’t quite like the first movie. The first didn’t balance its camp and action. The second went a little overboard on the parody. And this one has no humor at all, aside from some good lines from Luther. There’s no tongue-in-cheek here. And I’m not sure how I feel about that. It feels like this franchise has an identity crisis with each installment and hasn’t quite settled on what it wants to be and how best to incorporate the show. I liked the movie, but I feel as though it could have been any spy/action movie. Take away the music and the superficial references like names and what does that leave you? I’m not sure.

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

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