The thrill of a life that is lived on the edge
Lasts only as long as one’s love for the ledge.
Is no more a stranger,
And those once so thrilled
Can be left unfulfilled.
And yet who can blame them for normalcy’s dream,
For craving some quiet when life’s been a scream?
While risk has its place
In its white-knuckle pace,
Who wouldn’t wish for
Just a little bit more?
MPAA rating: PG-13
Now that I’ve gotten around to watching the third Mission: Impossible film, I finally see the unlikely trend that this series seems to have pulled off. Unlike most franchises, its sequels are getting better. Perhaps it was too early to tell that when J.J. Abrams’ third entry hit theaters in 2006, but Mission: Impossible III is easily the best MI so far.
Having shed his long-hair phase and Thandie Newton as his girlfriend-of-the-week, the Ethan Hunt in this threequel is far from the confident flirt in M:i-2; he’s now happily engaged to Julia (Michelle Monaghan) and content to train new agents rather than risk his life in the field, all while keeping Julia and her friends in the dark as to his top-secret career. However, he is soon drawn back to the field to rescue his captured protégé (Keri Russell) and stop a highly dangerous arms dealer (Philip Seymour Hoffman).
Leave it to J.J. Abrams to once again reignite a series’ potential, and I bet it was this franchise stint that made him desirable to direct the Star Trek reboot three years later, aided by his frequent co-writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. From the very first intense scene, he sets the stakes high before flashing back to show how events led there, which isn’t the only Abrams trademark you may notice. (Who else revives characters by pounding on their chest?) Eschewing the over-emphasized slow-motion of its predecessor, this feels like the Mission: Impossible movie I’ve been waiting for. The first two had their defining moments, but M:i:III has all the twists and turns you’d expect from a spy thriller while building to a surprisingly satisfying conclusion.
Ethan’s desire for a normal relationship and life makes him far more personable than his past appearances, and you can feel his desperation when that life is threatened. Likewise, the villain makes more of an impression, with Hoffman relishing and making the most of his coldly murderous role as black marketeer Owen Davian. One detail I especially liked was the revelation of how those famous face masks are made, including the spy trickery of copying someone’s voice, which is revealed to not be as fast and easy as the second film made it seem.
As I said, this is a Mission: Impossible film done right. Despite the overly-complex plot and the occasional line of hackneyed dialogue, the twists and fast-paced action kept me entertained from start to finish. My VC even pronounced it as (probably) her favorite Tom Cruise movie. If the other films in the series are supposed to be better than this one, I can’t wait for more. Ghost Protocol, here I come!
Best line: (IMF leader Brassel) “Mr. Musgrave, please don’t interrupt me when I’m asking rhetorical questions.” (Although Ethan’s “I’m gonna die unless you kill me” comes close too.)
© 2018 S.G. Liput
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