IMF agent Ethan Hunt comes out of retirement to stop a
dangerous arms dealer from obtaining a powerful weapon.
Mission Impossible III (2006)
Directed by J.J. Abrams
Written by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, J.J. Abrams
Starring Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michelle Monaghan, Billy Crudup, Ving Rhames, Laurence Fishburne, Maggie Q, Jonathan Rhys Myers, Simon Pegg, Keri Russell, Eddie Marsan
Sequel to 2000's Mission Impossible II
Based on the 1966-1973 TV series
Mission Impossible III is considerably better than the two that came before it, though there's still a lot of issues. It's premise is far simpler, the plot is engaging, and the performances are absolutely stellar. My biggest problem lies with the third act, in which things inevitably get twisty and the whole damn thing goes off the rails for the third time in a row. It's good this franchise eventually got redeemed with Ghost Protocol and proved it wasn't a fluke with Rogue Nation. There was a time when this was the pinnacle of the franchise, which is nothing to brag about.
The saving grace of this film is the late Philip Seymour Hoffman as the sadistic villain Owen Davian. Never before in this franchise has a villain been so intimidating, memorable, and just plain evil. There was such a coldness in Hoffman's performance that it stays with you long after the movie's over. It made me wish he'd taken on more villainous roles before his tragic death. Tom Cruise gives it his all as well, playing a more reluctant Ethan Hunt who wants to move on with his life. This entry brought new highs to the franchise, sure, but the same problems remain. There's the obvious twist that an IMF higher-up is behind the whole thing, then the rushed ending puts a not-so-fitting end to Davian so the whole thing can be wrapped up with a big tidy bow. It ruins an otherwise solid action flick.
Mission Impossible III is better than the first two by far, but it doesn't come close to the excitement captured by its two successors. Still, I'm glad I took the time to revisit the Mission Impossible franchise. It showed me that classic doesn't always mean good, and sometimes the critics are pretty spot on. Although, I'd argue that this entry was a step in the right direction for a darker take on the franchise, and it gave J.J. Abrams his first directing gig. So, I guess there's a silver lining after all.