You just have to appreciate Paramount’s willingness to continue the “Mission: Impossible” franchise in the face of lackluster stories, with very good directors who fix the series to their own styles, yet keep the spirit. There was Brian DePalma’s overrated and cerebral original installment, then John Woo’s brainless, nonsensical but fun sequel, and now, as a last ditch effort, we have J.J. Abrams, creator of one of the most popular spy shows of all time, “Alias.” They have the right idea in mind. Spy movie, recruit spy show director. Voila. Instant magic. Instant magic? Not particularly.
“Mission Impossible III” ends as a somewhat imperfect end to an imperfect series, however, Abrams surefire skill and engrossing story just can’t be denied. His direction is utterly fantastic enlisting a grit and style that wasn’t witnessed in the previous installments, with an interesting plot that’s elaborate but hardly as confusing as DePalma’s. Abram’s stunning visual style creates much more tension and atmosphere than should be given to the audience, and pair that with some pretty amazing stunts, and you have an action film you can enjoy without feeling guilty.
Cruises performance is adequate enough to warrant the proper hero style with a slightly different version of Ethan Hunt as a man who has quit the IMF and is brought back in to save a former student. One of the better additions of the final film within the all-star cast is the great walk on role from Simon Pegg as a clever computer technician, as well as Maggie Q who is just a prime heroine I always envisioned for this series. She’s sexy, she’s entertaining, and she’s fun to watch when blowing people’s brains out. One of the better additions for the film is Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the sardonic villain Owen Davian, a cold and calculating madman who gives one of the best monologues I’ve seen in an action film in years where he threatens Ethan Hunt incessantly and eventually breaks his spirit. “Mission: Impossible III” is a mixed bag, but has something that will entertain audiences, be it the over the top action, story, or just watching Hoffman do his thing.
The Rabbit’s foot, the prime example of the McGuffin. If you want to know what a McGuffin is, the “Rabbit’s Foot” is a pure example. It’s a plot device used to move a story forward that’s never fully fleshed out for us. It’s plot motivation, pure and simple. Hitchcock you magnificent bastard, look what they’ve done. What the hell is the Rabbit’s foot? Powerful but, obviously, vague technology. It can destroy the world, it can bring down technology, it’s the anti-god, it can be used to do both, and it can cut your time in the kitchen by ten minutes. Who knows what the fuck the Rabbit’s foot is. “What is the Rabbit’s Foot?” many of the characters ask throughout the run time of the film. Personally, I don’t think even the writers knew this. It’s lazy, and it’s proof positive not even three writers can compose a cohesive story.
Beyond that utterly impaired plot device void of any creativity there are also the plot holes and suspension of disbelief that’s too unbelievable to be ignored. Lindsey begins having horrible head pains and suddenly Ethan has a machine at hand that can view what’s in her mind within seconds, yet the paddles they have with them need thirty seconds to power up? If there’s such a covert operation why launch a full on assault on a bridge with bystanders and witnesses? No one asked questions? What did they do about the survivors? Why escort Ethan Hunt in an easily escapable elevator? Why would the organization have an easily escapable elevator? Why gag and tie him to a table he’ll get out of easily? Is a gun so easily usable and fireable that a woman who has never fired one can shoot two trained operatives without even aiming? Why would two operatives meet at a convenience store which would basically be monitored with security cameras? Abrams and his two cohorts in screenwriting also never take into consideration that the entire plot of this installment is completely and utterly rehashed into a lazy amalgam of typical action clichés.
I mean come on, in “MI2”, Ethan has to save his lover (Thandie Newton) who is stricken with a plague and involves the same time limited crime plot, racing across the world scenario we see here. This is “True Lies” sans the lumbering Schwarzenegger. Hunt is a spy who pretends to be something else, and his wife has no idea. Except, now the hook of the story is through Michelle Monaghan as Ethan’s wife who serves no real purpose beyond the climax. While the all-star cast is appealing, the producers cast a lot of talent for no particular reason. We have Keri Russell whose role is minor and only there to bring on the true plot, Billy Crudup is wasted as a sympathetic mission informant who appears sporadically. Not to mention Laurence Fishburne whose throwaway role is most unpleasant as the head of the IMF who appears every now and then to chew out Ethan and disappear into his office. How can a guy like this be so utterly clueless? How can this movie be so utterly stupid? It’s not a perfect film, not by any stretch of the imagination. Yet in spite of plot holes, stupidity, and pure lapses in logic, Abrams’ installment into an otherwise mediocre trilogy is entertaining. It’s by far the most entertaining of the bunch, and it’s not much of an accomplishment, but it’s a start.