Thursday, August 16, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Mission: Impossible III (2006) ***

PG-13, 126 min.
Director: J.J. Abrams
Writers: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, J.J. Abrams
Starring: Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michelle Monaghan, Ving Rhames, Billy Crudup, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Maggie Q, Lawrence Fishburne, Simon Pegg, Keri Russell, Eddie Marsan, Aaron Paul

After the failure of “M:I2” to combine John Woo’s emotionally driven stylized action with the plot heavy intricacies of the spy genre, it was back to the drawing board. The Cruise/Wagner production team decided to seek help in achieving their goals of turning the “M:I” franchise into a more emotion-based espionage franchise of their own style. They looked to television and the still current TV golden boy J.J. Abrams.

Employing Abrams to join them on the production team was a stroke of brilliance, since Abrams had already successfully recreated the spy genre into an emotionally driven hit with his series “Alias”. Abrams brought on board with him his writing partners Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, who not only contributed heavily to the success of “Alias”, but also the even more popular “Lost”. Looking to break into feature films, Abrams took on the direction helm himself, and “M:I3” was the franchise reborn.

In order to bring a more emotional level into the series, Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is taken out of active duty and ready to settle down with a fiancée. It’s no surprise that he gets pulled back into the field on a rescue mission for an operative that he trained. Abrams doesn’t turn this into a romance; however, he uses this element to elevate his already heavily laden action screenplay. The action is nearly non-stop once Hunt gets back into the fray, with some of the series’ most stunning sequences.

The filmmakers don’t reach full velocity with this installment, but they certainly guide the series into a great direction. They successfully establish the new human side of the espionage game for Ethan Hunt, and they also create probably the best villain of the franchise with Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance. I love how his role pretty much exists just to take revenge on Hunt. That’s really what a villain is about. Here, the filmmakers cleanly eliminate the ridiculous posturing of the process. Also look for Aaron Paul from “Breaking Bad” in an early role as Cruise’s brother-in-law to be.

Read my original review here.

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