Mission: Impossible III ★★★½

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Pros – What an outstanding cast! Philip Seymour Hoffman (pre-dating Heath Ledger’s joker with his superior, supreme confidence) steals the show, and he rarely turns up. In fact, he’s so good, JJ Abrams repeats a scene to begin the film. There is a clear objective to bring Mission Impossible back to some of its roots. This can be evidenced with themes and codas in the score, the actual team work on display and the clear three-act set pieces – helicopter escape to the Vatican to Shanghai. The outstanding Vatican sequence is an incredible set-piece revealing how they make the masks (something that was always been weirdly easy in previous films) and recreate voices so fast. Abrams shots are relentless, peaking with a camera panning alongside a sprinting Tom Cruise in an exceptionally busy Shanghai. We also find out, at his wedding, that Ethan’s middle name is Matthew. This is promptly followed by the two consummating their marriage in the middle of a hospital, i.e – her workplace.

Cons – Who really cares about the ‘Rabbits foot’? It’s a silly name, for one. Chimera, NOC-list – even the unnecessary ‘Cobalt’ name in Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol at least sounds cool. Add to this how the immediate opening showing the death of Hunt’s wife spoils the entire film. We know, in 10 seconds, that (a) Hunt’s wife will be pulled into the story, (b) an explosive can kill people via their head and (c) Eddie Marsan will get his nose smashed in. The tension built in sequences leading up to each of these events are spoiled entirely as we have seen it in the opening sequence. In many respects, the ‘heart’ of the film laying in the husband and wife simply seems a little un-Mission Impossible – what next, they have a child and it’ll become a Taken movie? Ultimately, his wife doesn’t die, rendering the entire opening scene irrelevant. In fact, after Philip Seymour Hoffman is out the picture everything that follows destroys the film. His wife is a skilled marksman – and can’t stop asking questions? Ethan will die?! He’s an action hero! Jack Bauer. Jason Bourne. James Bond. They don’t die… unless they get old and retire. M:I-3 went there and missed.

Read my ranking of all five Mission Impossible films here: www.flickeringmyth.com/2015/08/ranking-the-mission-impossible-franchise.html