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|Mission: Impossible III|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir JJ Abrams|
scr Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, JJ Abrams
with Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michelle Monaghan, Billy Crudup, Laurence Fishburne, Keri Russell, Ving Rhames, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Maggie Q, Simon Pegg, Eddie Marsan, Michael Berry Jr
release UK 4.May.06, US 5.May.06
06/US Paramount 2h06
Leave me alone: Cruise and Monaghan
Tom's back with a third instalment in this high-energy franchise, and as producer he cannily hires a filmmaker who knows how to breathe life into any genre (see Felicity, Alias and Lost).
Impossible Mission Force ace Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is on the verge of retirement, settling down with his fianc√àe (Monaghan). But a former student/colleague (Russell) needs his help, so he reunites with tech specialist Luther (Rhames), plus two new agents (Rhys Meyers and Maggie Q), for a globe-hopping rescue mission that pits them against a ruthless arms dealer (Hoffman). Of course, twists are lurking ahead, and Hunt's bosses (Crudup and Fishburne) aren't going to be happy.
Slick and hugely entertaining, Abrams wisely injects a heavy current of subtext to develop the characters. We've never glimpsed these super-spies engaging on a personal level before, and their refreshingly natural and funny banter makes the whole thing feel much more realistic. And Cruise is at his best as a man at the end of his tether, reluctantly engaging in outrageous recklessness to protect his personal life.
Meanwhile, the rest of the cast dives in completely. Monaghan's role is surprisingly well-developed, and all the agents get moments to shine. Pegg is fabulous as a chatty research guy. And Hoffman steals the show with a terrific new take on the merciless villain role. He's genuinely terrifying.
Technically the film looks a bit like a TV movie, shot mostly in character-framing close-up and only occasionally expanding into big-screen spectacle, but that's precisely the point. And this focus on people makes the action sequences genuinely nerve-rattling. Michael Giacchino's 1970s TV-style score accents this brilliantly, and of course weaves in Lalo Schifrin's iconic theme at just the right moments. And Abrams has a great time playing with M:I clich√às, especially the whole face-swapping thing.
This is a strikingly clever film. Abrams opens with a jarringly grisly flash-forward that haunts us until we get there again. And by then he has run us through a wringer that's thrilling and dramatically engaging. With much more to come. An expertly made guilty-pleasure blockbuster.
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© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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