Mission Impossible 3

The summer movie season of 2006 is underway with the release of Mission Impossible 3 which once again stars Tome Cruise as agent Ethan Hunt. The film opens with a tense interrogation scene with an icily cold Philip Seymour Hoffman threatening to shoot a woman unless Ethan reveals the location of something called “The Rabbits Foot”.

The film then goes back in time where Ethan is busy entertaining at a party for his pending marriage where it is learned that he has put his days in the field behind him to be a training instructor as well as his pending marriage to Julia (Michelle Monaghan).

No sooner does the party get info full swing when Ethan is summed to a meeting by a phone call. During the meeting he is given a secret message and learns that one of his prize pupils, Lindsey (Keri Russell), has been captured by a known arms dealer named Owen Davian (Hoffman).

Normal policy is should an agent be captured, they are disavowed and on their own, but for this case, an exception is made and a plan is put into place to retrieve Lindsey. Despite his misgivings, Ethan is drawn back into the fray and joins the rescue team in Berlin.

What at first seems to be a text book rescue takes an unexpected twist and lands Ethan and his team afoul of the company director Brassel (Lawrence Fishburne). This sets the stage for a future operation to obtain Davian at the Vatican as it is hoped they can learn to whom he intends to deliver an item known as “The Rabbits Foot” and exactly what it is.

While things at first seem to go as planned, before long, Ethan and his team must deal with forces outside of their mission plan and are soon caught up in a situation that has grown larger than anyone could have predicted, and with dire consequences.

Sadly, despite the good setup, the film goes very wrong and very fast. One issue that arises is a plot so filled with holes and complications it makes even the most hackneyed summer movie plot seem like a Shakespearean wannabe in comparison. The film goes from one scenario to another with all sorts of new complications many of which are never fully explained, or worse yet left hanging.

Characters act a certain way only to change pace in the film without any explanation. One such scenario involves a character who helps Ethan only to later be revealed as a bad guy, yet the how, where, and why of their actions are never explained, as is one of the key plot devices that drives the film.

While I am willing to expect a certain amount of non-sequitors for a summer movie, the number that M.I. 3” tosses out is ludicrous.

Another glaring issue with the film is the action sequences. Yes, there are a few well planned sequences such as a helicopter chase and a daring battle on a bridge, but they all seem surprisingly flat and lack any real tension or drama. They just simply unfold without fully engaging the viewer.

Another issue is that Director J.J. Abrams uses very close camera angles for some of the action sequences which when combined with the shaky camera style, results in sequences that are very hard to watch due to the frantic motion. I am all for realism, but when I cannot fully understand what is going on as the camera is bouncing all over the scene, then this is a problem.

The final frustration I had with the film falls solely with Cruise himself. Yes I can separate all of the recent off camera exploits that have been well documented the past year, but what I do have an issue with is how unfit Cruise seems for the part. The man is a very good performer with a long history of box office success. Yet, his diminutive size does not make me believe him as an action star. It is hard to believe that he is capable of doing such daring acts of strength as well as dispatching all manner of imposing bad guys. In a very underwhelming finale, Hoffman seemed much more suited as a character of menace as his look and the way he carried himself was one of power. With Cruise, I kept seeing a person trying to make me believe his character was tough guy, and I simply was not buying it. The same was also true for his relationship with Julia. The utter lack of chemistry between them and the awkward and stiff love scenes did nothing to make me believe that this is a person whom Ethan is willing to risk everything for.

Hoffman fresh off his Oscar win for “Capote” does the best he can with what is at best a stock character but he like the supporting Ving Rhames are not given much to work with.

The locales of the film are amazing but sadly they alone cannot carry the film. During the approximately Two Hour and 10 minute run time, there were about 40 minutes of real entertainment for me and much of this came at the start of the film.

While it is better than the last film in the series, the issues I documented above really hamper what could have been, and should have been not only the best film in the series, but is instead another hollow Summer Film that looks flashy, just as long as you do not remove the bumper sticker to see all the dents underneath.

2 stars out of 5.