Mission Impossible 3
Tom really hates paparazzi.

Theatrical Release Date: 05/05/2006
Director: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames, Laurence Fishburne, Billy Crudup, Michelle Monaghan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Maggie Q

Hear that sound? That’s the sound of film audiences all across America lowering their expectations as the summer blockbuster season approaches! To kick it off, some fresh, unknown named Tom Cruise put down his copy of Dianetics long enough to put together a third installment of the “Mission : Impossible” film franchise.

In this episode, a naughty man wants a dangerous thing and will kidnap and torture the fair maiden of our hero to get it. Well, that takes care of the plot. Now to the execution.

After a year of getting a new director in J.J. Abrams (“Narc’s” Joe Carnahan dropped out and so did David Fincher) and another year of waiting for Cruise to wrap filming on some obscure sci-fi remake (I think it was called “War of the Worlds”), Tom and the gang got together to blow things up and get all intense and stuff.

While all the postponements were taking place behind the camera, Carrie-Anne Moss had her character invented and dropped leading to her dismissal, Thandie Newton decided not to return to stay with her family, Scarlett Johansson dropped out only to be replaced by Keri Russell, Ricky Gervais’ small role eventually landed in the lap of “Shaun of the Dead”’s Simon Pegg and Philip Seymour Hoffman took over for Kenneth Branagh who decided to do some more Shakespeare. (Is there any left for him to do?)

Is it just me or was actually casting and staffing this film a nearly impossible mission?

Oh no he didn’t.

Oh yes I did.

In the end, Cruise and company got an almost ridiculous collection of a cast together than included the aforementioned Russell, Pegg and Hoffman along with Ving Rhames, Laurence Fishburne, Billy Crudup, Michelle Monaghan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Maggie Q and Sasha Alexander (“Dawson’s Creek” alert!).

All of them do a decent job, but that’s probably more due to their skills rather than the script, since it wasn’t from Shakespeare (Branagh has them all). The writing duo that came up with the words to go along with the explosions and Cruisintensity was Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci.

Never heard of them? Well, they wrote the deep and profound musings of last year’s “The Island”. Hooray!! I mean Booo! Aw, crap. I forget if bad is good anymore. In any case, get ready for more of their ‘talent’ in next year’s “Transformers”, which I have dutifully placed a countdown at the top of this site’s pages for all of you to set your clocks to.

In a strange twist of fate, the wondrous writing wordsmiths also did a few episodes of “Alias” which was created by Abrams himself. What are the odds? Now if you’re unaware, “Alias” is about a spy who changes her identity and kicks a lot of ass, all in the name of pulling off greatly difficult assignments. (Anyone sensing a theme?)

Well, if you’re wondering how “M:I:III:The Third Film: Where Felicity Uses A Gun: And The Latest Academy Award Winning Actor Gets A Fat Paycheck” turned out, just think: a longer episode of “Alias”. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing but the film felt like a long television episode. Sure, there were exotic locations, dangerous stunts and a few big budget special effects but there wasn’t anything in the film that really wowed me or felt all that original.

There are also too many touchy-feely scenes between Cruise and Monaghan. I suppose they are there for garnering the audience’s sympathy and whatnot but it only serves to make me chuckle and/or gag (which is an interesting combination at the same time). Besides, what the h-e-double hockey sticks is this kind of stuff doing in my fantasmagorically big-budget explosions and gadgets movie?

Those of you familiar with the “Alias” TV show will even recognize Abrams’ signature “I’m gonna take a pivotal scene and give you a preview right at the beginning before telling you how the characters got there” film technique. As hackneyed as that plot device is, I think this summer will produce far worse blockbusters than “M:I:III:TTF:WFUAG:ATLAAWAGAFP”. Yeah, I’m looking at you “X-Men 3”.

While the plot is almost supernaturally simple, I had a decent time watching this flick. I would have preferred a larger emphasis on action and more blood but I’m sure the studio didn’t want an R-rated summer popcorn flick. Also, some more cool gadgets and more screen time for Hoffman would have been nice.

Another thing I’m getting oh so tired of in this series is the fake rubber face and stolen voice gimmick. Can’t the writers come up with some other cool spy gear to show off. Wow, where the hell is this review leading? I feel like I’m wandering.

Back to the point, I’m a little disappointed that “M:I:III” isn’t as bad as I was hoping for. And while there were plenty of things that could have made the film better, I was adequately entertained and can safely recommend this for the general populace.

One thing I want to give crazy props to is a scene that fully allowed Cruise to show off his running style. I think he graduated top of the class from the Robert Patrick School of Running. He’s got the whole thing down, flailing his legs and arms (with hands open flat for aerodynamics) while keeping his upper body and head perfectly still. It’s a thing of beauty.

I can only hope that if they really do make a “Terminator 4”, it’s about The Governator judging a race between Cruise and Patrick. Not since Michael Jordan unveiled his Nikes on the world will the shoe industry have seen such pandemonium!

I’m wandering again, aren’t I?

Well, as much as I hate being predictable, I’m giving “M:I:III” a rating commensurate with its franchise quantity, a 3 out of 5. It won’t blow your socks off but it’s not a huge waste of your money either.