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MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III

SYNOPSIS:
Special Agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is lured back to the front line by Agency Director Brassel (Laurence Fishburne) and his right hand man Musgrave (Billy Crudup) when his former trainee agent Linsey Ferris (Keri Russell) is captured by the vicious Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman). With his team comprising computer expert Luther Strickell (Ving Rhames), Irish transportation expert Declan (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and the versatile and glamorous Zhen (Maggie Q), Hunt tracks down Davian in a daring plot to grab him, to stop his world-destructive plans. But things go awry and the stakes escalate as Declan takes Hunt's wife Julia (Michelle Monaghan) hostage. Hunt now has the impossible mission to not only save the woman he loves, but the world as well.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
In a world of ever-present danger, at a time when evil stalks the globe ... oooops, that was meant for the trailer. Like their trailers, action films are meant to be predictable, as they confront our deepest fears, so they can vanquish them. It's a kind of mass psycho-therapy session, and even at $15, a lot cheaper. In this regard, tickets to M:I III should be claimable under health insurance. Evil is defeated, but only at great cost and after much effort. The real question is how, and that's where J.J. Abrams and the whole team comes in.

Notably, there is enough time and effort spent on the romantic relationship between Ethan (Tom Cruise in fully committed form) and Julia (a terrific Michelle Monaghan) to make it a real emotional investment for us, which pays off in terms of 'grip'. And the action is writ with a capital A.

The film takes two big risks, and one of them comes off. This is the structure; the opening sequence is instant high tension as we see Ethan (Tom Cruise) bound to a chair in a dangy setting, opposite a terrified and gagged woman, facing death at the count of 10. The scene is lifted from the story further down the line, in an effort to set us up for the risks that Ethan is about to face. We don't see the outcome, but it looks bad.

This ups the ante considerably, and the tension is held taut for the entire running time (2 hours); but the action and the personal, intimate relationship between Ethan and this woman - whose identity we don't yet know - adds a deeper resonance to the film, which already has a really effective villain in Philip Seymour Hoffman and inspired direction.

The second risk is less successful and alert audiences will find it a problem: without wanting to give too much away, though, it's hard to discuss, except to say it has to do with a crucial plot point involving Ethan masquerading as someone else. The effective and rapid making of the face mask, along with a voice patch, is brilliantly realised, but the hands are a giveaway in the transition. This can suddenly take us 'out of the picture' for a while, although I hasten to add it doesn't ruin the excitement.

Indeed, excitement is what this film delivers, sticking to the clever concept of the original TV series, which never showed the real details of the extraordinary planning for each mission. The team is suddenly fully equipped with all the gizmos they need, everyone knows the plan and the technology works as designed. By paring things down to this extent, the film becomes a streamlined rocket capable of super-terrific entertainment delivery.

Review by Louise Keller:
Mission: Impossible III is everything you expect and more. Dense and fast-paced with stunts to knock your socks off, as an action thriller, it is hard to beat. Besides, Philip Seymour Hoffman's ultra dark villain Davian is chillingly good, countering Tom Cruise's charismatic hero Ethan Hunt. Cruise does the impossible, as he leaps off tall buildings, falls through the sky, climbs up walls, springs through elevator shafts, escapes from tight spots that would impress even Houdini, and walks away unblemished after being run over by a truck. He is good at maths too. There are car chases, an impressive helicopter pursuit through a field of windmills at night, somersaulting cars ablaze, a dynamite-shattered bridge to name but a few. And Cruise revs up his motorbike, hits the gas in a speedboat and pounds the footpath like there is no tomorrow. Faster than the wind and he doesn't seem to puff.

The stunts amaze us, and each one is more spectacular than the last. Not much concentration is required to enjoy the fireworks, but you need a degree in Mission Impossinology to keep up with the plot. Ving Rhames effectively echoed my thoughts as Cruise catapults from one sky scraper to another, saying rather lamely, 'I knew he'd make it.' Our hero is never seriously in jeopardy - the risk factor is slight. Director J. J Abrams brings style and scale to this impressive production whose locations are as diverse as Rome's Holy Vatican to the ancient fishing villages of Shanghai. The Vatican scenes are especially fresh, and the sequence when Hunt dons a disguise that renders Davian speechless in the ornate rest room's guilded mirror, is one of the film's best.

I suppose Ethan Hunt is the man many men aspire to be. Charismatic and courageous with a well-toned body. A man, not a boy. One who tackles issues of major significance, like saving the world. The magic of the movies blurs the line between Ethan Hunt and Tom Cruise. And as we all know, they both get the girl. In Hunt's case, the girl is Kiss Kiss Bang Bang's luscious Michelle Monahan. She may think her man is a trafficologist to begin with, but she is super quick on the uptake when it comes to bang bang action. All the team plays its part well - sultry Jonathan Rhys Meyers, glamorous martial arts star Maggie Q, Billy Crudup, Laurence Fishburne and Keri Russell.

That haunting pum, pum, pahda, pum, pum Mission Impossible music theme by Lalo Schifrin is as compelling as ever, signalling each major action sequence. Rip-roaring action with unlimited energy, Mission: Impossible III delivers escapism - stylishly.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

FEATURE

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III (M)
(US, 2006)

CAST: Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Keri Russel, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Bahar Soomekh, Laurence Fishburne, Billy Crudup, Simon Pegg, Michelle Monaghan, Maggie Q, Sasha Alexander

PRODUCER: Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner

DIRECTOR: J. J Abrams

SCRIPT: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, J. J. Abrams

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dan Mindel

EDITOR: Maryann Brandon, Mary Jo Markey

MUSIC: Michael Giacchino (Lalo Schifrin theme)

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Scott Chamblis

RUNNING TIME: 126 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 4, 2006







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