MI:3, the latest in a series of action movies inspired by the classic television show of the same name, stars Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt as a super agent and leader of the Impossible Missions Force. In the capable hands of Alias and Lost creator and writer J.J. Abrams the movie plays like a big screen version of Alias, which is OK, because Alias was basically just an estrogen injected Mission Impossible.
Abrams breathes some new life into the franchise by creating a home life for Ethan Hunt. When we first meet him he is engaged to a young beautiful doctor and pretty much retired from the field. He now spends his time training agents to do impossible super agent things and is trying to have a regular life. All that changes when one of his favorite pupils falls into the hands of the incredibly evil Owen Davian, played by Oscar winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman. He heads up her rescue mission and is lured back into a world of intrigue and international espionage.
But Abrams really brings out the movie defibulator with the introduction of a great bad guy. Casting Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who has traded the fey mannerisms of Truman Capote for a mean left hook and a bad attitude, is an inspired move. He’s not on screen for long, but there hasn’t been a bad guy that has so much with so little screen since Anthony Hopkins wore a muzzle in Silence of the Lambs.
The first two Mission Impossibles offered up incomprehensible plots, but each contained at least one great action sequence guaranteed to make your eyeballs dance. Remember Tom, the chopper, the train and the Chunnel from the first one? How about the acrobatic motorcycles from number two? Nothing in number three rocks as hard as either of those set pieces, but they certainly don’t skimp on the action—Tom is still cruising for a bruising. Action sequences sprout like tulips in the spring—many things go boom, many bullets are fired and even the Vatican isn’t safe but none of the stunts have the cool factor of Cruise lowering himself from a wire into a room sensitive to sound, weight and body temperature.
Part action flick, part travelogue–MI:3 could be subtitled Around the World in 800 Bullets–the movie works as a popcorn movie and the kick-off to the summer blockbuster season.