ALL about… ‘Mission:Impossible III’

Andrew Hampp

Third time is not the charm for ‘Mission: Impossible’ trilogy

Tom Cruise reprises his role as Ethan Hunt in the action-spy film, Mission: Impossible III. The film offically opens tomorrow, but it is showing tonight at Kent Plaza Theater at 11:15. PHOTO COURTESY OF PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Credit: Steve Schirra

There’s only one really good scene in Mission: Impossible III, and it happens pretty early on. In fact, it opens the film.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is seen strapped to a chair across from his girlfriend (Michelle Monaghan) who is also chair-tied as well as gagged with duct tape. Philip Seymour Hoffman, fresh from his Oscar winning turn in Capote, is reliably menacing as a villain threatening to kill Ethan’s girlfriend if he doesn’t tell him the whereabouts of something called a Rabbit’s Foot by the time he counts to 10.

The scene could be an out-take from a Saw movie. It has tight close-ups of the actors’ faces, with Cruise and Monaghan getting more tense as the numbers tick closer to 10. The cinematography is just as gritty as the scenery -an abandoned warehouse – and Hoffman keeps the terror level rising to a climax that ends in an off-screen gun shot. The suspense is riveting and palpable.

By the time the opening credits start rolling with that all-too-familiar theme music, you start to think, Damn, this could be the best Mission: Impossible yet. Unfortunately, it’s far from it.

Nothing that transpires over the next two rather trying hours of Mission: Impossible III manages to match the excitement of that opening scene. Even when that moment is revisited during its chronological context an hour later, too many predictable action sequences and plot “twists” have occurred to match the excitement and unpredictability earned the first time around.

Where did it go wrong? Director J. J. Abrams seemed an inventive choice to take over the M:i series – having created the most Mission: Impossible-like spy series in decades, “Alias” – but his experience ultimately works against him. The whole thing unfolds like a star-studded TV movie, and not a very good one.

What made the first two chapters in the series was they felt like their own movies. John Woo especially put his stamp on 2, with those breathtaking slow-motion battle scenes and heart-pounding shots of Tom Cruise scaling a seemingly 10,000-foot cliff.

There’s nothing terribly unique about

Mission:Impossible III

Starring Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Philip Seymour Hoffman

Directed by J.J. Abrams

Distributed by Paramount Pictures

Stater rating (out of five): * * ½

M:i:III, however, though it does do a good job of reminding of you other, better spy movies.

Most notably, Ocean’s 11 is brought to mind whenever the film jumps location, which it likes to do a lot this time around. There are extended sequences at the Vatican and in Beijing, which lend themselves to great scenery even when the movie is less than fascinating.

The plot – which, in tradition with the preceding movies, isn’t much of one – is that Hoffman is some sort of crime lord that Ethan Hunt and his new team of rogue spies (Billy Crudup does an especially good job of sending up his wholesome image here) are trying to stop in his tracks.

The film lets you think they succeed in killing certain characters at one point, using that nifty trick with face masks the other M:Is used till they ran the wheels off that gimmick. But once they’re proven to be very much alive, any chance for surprise is thrown out the window.

Abrams does nothing to play with the formula created by the first two-thirds of the M:I trilogy, and instead continues the tradition of offing the most interesting characters and leaving major plot holes in his wake. That Rabbit’s Foot Hoffman wanted so badly at the beginning? Good luck figuring out just what it really is.

There’s no doubt that Mission: Impossible III will end up being one of the biggest movies of the summer, and inevitably, talk will soon start about another sequel – especially since the cheeseball ending leaves nothing in limbo. But movies such as this exist purely to blow things up, flash a few good-looking people across the screen to keep things interesting then pull out all the stops for a creatively unsatisfying ending.

This may very well not be the end of the Mission Impossible series, but it certainly deserves to be.

Contact campus editor Andrew Hampp at [email protected].