Saturday, May 06, 2006

Mission: Impossible III

by Clint Fletcher

Say hello to the first kickass action flick of 2006. Not only is M:I-3 the best of the franchise, it may quite possibly be one of the greatest action pictures ever made.

First, I must give the screenwriters props for the hook in the beginning. This film should be shown in film schools around the world on how to hook an audience in the opening of your movie. The first bit, which features one of the last scenes in the movie, only lasts about 2 minutes. But boy did it grab the audience like nothing we’ve ever seen. It was chilling, merciless and sets the tone for what’s to come with maybe one page of dialogue. Secondly, I bow before whoever made the decision to pick J.J Abrams to helm this puppy. Was it Cruiser who picked him? Can’t remember. But thanks to Mr. Abrams, instead of sending the franchise spiraling downward after the success of M:I-2, this man actually INCREASES the level of energy in the series. M:I-3 is like a breath of fresh air, and it is a far different film than the first two.

On top of this, it doesn’t have an unoriginal frame in its two-hour plus running time. Every single scene just oozes with originality, whether it’s a romantic scene or another mind-blowing action sequence. And thirdly, I’d like to give props to the cast. Cruiser does what needs to be done as always, backed with a terrific ensemble cast of Laurence Fishburne, Ving Rhames, Maggie Q, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and the great Philip Seymour Hoffman. Instead of having our hero bounce all over the place meeting all new people as he did in the first two flicks, a team is established in the beginning of this film and it stays that way through the end. While the previous installments felt more like a Cruise vehicle, this one felt much more like a very talented ensemble with tons of chemistry to boot. Everyone breezes through their parts respectively, but I must give very special kudos to two performers.

The first is Hoffman. I can’t remember the last time I was actually terrified of a villain on screen. But man did this guy make me shit my pants… twice! I really believed he was going to kill my family, all of my friends and all of their friends and all of their pets right in front of me before feeding me to sharks with laser beams on their heads in a tub full of battery acid. I loved every frame this guy was in, which sadly wasn’t much. He’s only in the flick about 15 minutes, sporadically throughout. The second performer is the adorable Michelle Monaghan, who played Hunt’s love interest. Where did this girl come from and why haven’t I heard of her until now? Anyway, it takes a strong actress to overcome the damsel-in-distress cliché and Monaghan escapes this with stripes. She actually turns out to be one tough cookie in the closing ten minutes.

On top of everything mentioned above, this third installment is a mass improvement over the first two flicks. The original had to much spy stuff and not enough action, while the second one had too much action and not enough spy stuff. The third one is a perfect blend of both, with tons of new high tech gadgetry to play around with. But M:I-3 succeeds as an action flick far more than anything else. It’s been years since a film has ever made my heart pound this much, with breath-taking stunts (mostly by the actors themselves), some killer sound effects and creative fight choreography. Once this baby gets going, there's nothing stopping it for the remainder of its running time. Its got great pace and moves a hundred miles a minute.

Also, this film is the first ever to really dive into Ethan Hunt’s personal life, which I thought was a great decision to make. We actually get to see the IMF offices for the first time. We get to meet his bosses, we get to meet his girlfriend, we get to meet his friends. We get to see how being a secret agent badass affects his personal life, as he is attempting to retire for good to marry the woman he loves. This brings me to my next point, the love story. There is a love angle this time and it actually has a purpose to the plot. It is handled very gracefully and quickly, but the Cruiser and Monaghan are so effective in their roles that we feel their love for each other almost immediately (how about that non-verbal roof scene, awesome), which severely raises the stakes in the third act. This was something the first two installments were lacking, as M:I-2 attempted a love story but failed miserably as it came off pointless and cheesy.

And speaking of cheesy, the second installment was filled with TONS of “Cruise has to be gay” moments as he was flying around in slow motion with his girly haircut. Sure, I bought that Hunt was a smart guy with many talents from the first flick, but I just didn’t buy him as an action badass in the second one. Well, thank God he cut his friggin hair and they gave us a backstory on his training in this one, because I thoroughly believed Hunt was a killing machine badass in every frame of M:I-3. And thank God there are no more “Cruise is gay” moments which are all long gone.

Mission: Impossible III will likely be remembered as the best action flick of 2006. And as far as myself goes, it has beat out United 93 for best movie of the year thus far. Everyone should see it on the big screen while they have a chance and you will NOT be disappointed. Kudos to Cruise and Co. for delivering one of the best trilogies in movie history with each flick having its own unique look, feel, story and voice. M:I-3… the movie so good you’ll need to take a morning-after pill.

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