Mission: Impossible III (2006)
Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Genre: Action and Spy Running Time: 2 hrs. 6 min.

Release Date: May 5th, 2006 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: J.J. Abrams Actors: Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames, Billy Crudup, Michelle Monaghan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell, Maggie Q, Simon Pegg, Eddie Marsan, Laurence Fishburne

 


 

“W

e put an explosive charge in your head.” IMF Agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is handcuffed to a chair while Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman) threatens a hostage, Julia (Michelle Monaghan), with a gun. At the count of ten, he’ll pull the trigger, unless Hunt hands over the Rabbit’s Foot. It’s an astonishing cold open, establishing a villain and a predicament so extreme that it’s a striking departure from the earlier two theatrical episodes; here, for the first time, Ethan appears to be in a deadly serious situation.

The story reverts back to a beginning of sorts, where Hunt attends a party with Julia, his fiancee (and a Virginia Regional Hospital nurse). The top operative has finally chosen to retire to a normal life, maybe even raise a family. But he can never fully escape; all it takes is for his former boss to inform him that a fellow agent (one of his own recruits), Lindsey Farris (Keri Russell), has been kidnapped by notorious black market trafficker Owen Davian, and Hunt is back in the field. The rescue attempt could provide a valuable link to the highly-wanted target, who has evaded authorities – and the IMF – for quite some time. Along for the ride is returning partner Luther (Ving Rhames), as well as new team members Declan (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), Zhen (Maggie Q), and Benji (Simon Pegg).

Although the previous entries were also rated PG-13, this is the first time that death and destruction feel more realistic and rawer. Characters bleed, show wounds, and seem vulnerable – something that rarely afflicted the players before. And there’s physical and psychological torture, grungier locations, and collateral damage. Even the stunts have become more grounded – or at least believable in visual designs, making use of sensible cinematography to obscure the less convincing elements of computer animation. The heightened sense of severity works well; even if it’s intermittent, audiences might actually find themselves concerned for the safety and success of these fictional personas. Plus, the villain is actually memorable – yet another deviation from the last two movies.

In another first for the series, the hierarchy and bureaucracy of the IMF make a brief appearance – things no one likely asked for. It’s as if this third outing is insistent on bringing the realm of impossible missions back to a level of possible-ness, even for components that didn’t need such a treatment. Fortunately, however, while the filmmakers are at it, they add explanations for the picture’s other signature gimmicks – including the spontaneously-made masks (one of the series’ most ludicrous recurring concepts) and voice duplications, which undoubtedly benefit from the elucidations. But just as it fixes issues from before, it also adds a problem or two – namely in the mystery tech of the Rabbit’s Foot, which is one of the most humongous MacGuffins ever devised.

“There’s a point where bold becomes stupid.” Thankfully, the pacing of this third film is excellent. It wastes no time in not only founding a simple yet amusing premise (with at least one engaging twist), but also in transitioning from one action scene to the next (set in a markedly exotic locale before rapidly shifting to another one halfway across the world). Regardless of the minutes eaten up by littler details (and the illogicality of the geography jumps and the convenient gadgets), the focus on nonstop action and suspense is exceptional. Even when the climax involves a comically challenging heist, followed by the anticipated return to the opening scene, the script boasts some unexpected – and clever – surprises. This entire production is a tremendous step up for the franchise.

– Mike Massie

  • 8/10


The Mission: Impossible Franchise


Mission: Impossible (1996)

Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)

Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015)

Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018)

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)