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Mission: Impossible III
Is another sequel really necessary?
Mission: Impossible III
Tom Cruise and Keri Russell in Mission Impossible 3.
OPENING WEEKEND: $55,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $185,000,000
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

January 24th, 2006: Agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) returns for another impossible mission, and this time it’s a personal one. He faces a foe (Philip Seymour Hoffman) that has figured out Hunt’s weakness: his wife (Michelle Monaghan). With the help of his old partner Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), Hunt becomes entangled in a treacherous game that may cost him his loved one. Additional plot details are being kept strictly confidential by the studio and the filmmakers.

What to Expect: The first Mission: Impossible was a major success that combined the summer action blockbuster with a clever and intricately woven mystery. The director, Brian De Palma (Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Scarface, The Untouchables, Carlito’s Way, Femme Fatale), is a crafty veteran who is famous for working in the visual and thematic style of Alfred Hitchcock. As a result, Mission: Impossible featured several Hitchcockian tricks that the great master would have been proud of. Those that disliked the original were usually turned-off by a complex plot that required their careful attention at all times. I liked the original and while I do not feel that the story line was that confusing, it might have been layered a bit excessively, especially for a summer film. The producers decided to go in a completely different direction with the sequel. Mission: Impossible II featured a longhaired Tom Cruise in a high velocity stunt extravaganza that bared little resemblance to the original. The film was saturated with quick editing, super slo-mo, physically impossible action, and doves, all trademarks of its director, John Woo (Broken Arrow, Face/Off, Windtalkers, Paycheck). It did have one element in common with the original as the entire plot was lifted from one of the best Hitchcock films ever, Notorious. Unfortunately, M:I-2 lacked the suspense and depth of Hitchcock as I found the sequel numbing in its relentless action sequences.

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Now comes another pointless sequel, which has already gone through its share of problems including postponements, rewrites, and casting changes. The film was originally scheduled for release in the summer of 2005, but a number of factors have contributed to the delay. David Fincher (Seven, Fight Club, Panic Room) was the first director attached to the project, but left to pursue other interests. Reportedly, the basic premise for his version centered on black market trading of body parts. While it would have been cool to see a dark, Fincher version of Mission: Impossible, Cruise quickly stepped in and found a worthy replacement in Joe Carnahan. Carnahan impressed Cruise with his gritty and realistic approach in his 2002 movie, Narc. His style would have been fitting for the Mission: Impossible franchise, but Carnahan left due to disagreements just a month before filming was set to begin. Eventually Cruise decided on J.J. Abrams, whose work on the Jennifer Garner show “Alias” caught his eye. For Abrams, this will be his first feature film.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle the filmmakers have had to face while making Mission: Impossible III, is Tom Cruise himself, who has had an “interesting” 2005 to say the least. As they continued to pour money into the film’s budget, the producers expressed concern over his behavior, his extravagant plans for the movie, and, for a long time, the lack of a script. There have even been rumors that Scarlett Johansson, who was set to play Cruise’s love interest in the second sequel, left the project after Cruise tried to convert her to Scientology.

On the other hand, there are some positive signs to consider. Mission: Impossible III features a great cast, similar to the first film in the series. Both Laurence Fishburne and especially Phillip Seymour Hoffman, whose critically acclaimed performance in Capote just earned him an Oscar nomination, should bring some wit and freshness to the film. Not to take anything away from Tom Cruise who is a fine actor, but his behavior just happens to be stealing the spotlight from his performances lately. You have to at least respect the guy for insisting on doing all of the stunts himself, like in the previous two films. The on-set stunt director praised him for his 70-foot fall, which he performed flawlessly during repeated takes.

In Conclusion: The film has a big budget and is filming in spectacular locations all over the world, so those looking for a colorful action piece will probably not be disappointed. Tom Cruise’s passion and bravado are clear, but it is possible that he may actually hurt the film rather than help it. If you notice what has happened to Ben Affleck, negative publicity can go a long way. Out of the three directors that have been attached to the film, J.J. Abrams is the least experienced and the least promising one. It would be frustrating if Mission: Impossible III felt like a glossy two hour commercial for Tom Cruise. It’s also likely that it will take a similar route to Mission: Impossible II, choosing action over intrigue. I usually find that very detrimental in films of this genre since a secret agent who likes to blow things up is hardly “secret.” Mission: Impossible III should offer action-packed entertainment, but it might be too late to make any Hitchcockian improvements at this point.

As an interesting side note, Tom Cruise was just voted the most irritating actor by Empire magazine. However, in the same poll, he was also chosen as the biggest movie star of all time. Sadly, I see the same Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde quality in Mission: Impossible III.

Similar Titles: Mission: Impossible, Mission: Impossible II, Die Another Day, XXX
May 5th, 2006 (wide)
October 30th, 2006 (DVD)

Paramount Pictures

J.J. Abrams

Tom Cruise, Laurence Fishburne, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames, Kerri Russell, Michelle Monaghan, Billy Crudup, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Simon Pegg, Maggie Q

Total: 73 vote(s).

Action & Adventure, Suspense

Click here to view site

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of frenetic violence & menace, disturbing images & some sensuality.

126 min






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