Mission: Impossible III
The first disappointment of the summer has arrived.
If like me you're a bit of a "pins" guy rather than a "boobs" guy, Mission: Impossible III proves almost worthy of the price of entry solely for the sight of Maggie Q sliding out of a Lambourghini Gallardo in a dress split up to her hip. If you are one of the trillions of women who thinks Tom Cruise is just "amazing", it's probably worth it for endless shots of your fella running about shooting things and looking moody in a series of tight black t-shirts. If you're anybody else, or maybe if your expectations of a film simply outweigh your preference for any one actor therein, chances are you'll be leaving this movie with a very "ho-hum" aura surrounding you.
The Cruiser once again reprises the role of Ethan Hunt, team leader for the Impossible Missions Force, with a script penned by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci who both previously worked with first-time movie director J.J. Abrams on TV's Alias. That Kurtzman had a hand in last year's The Island should already have most sane punters running scared, although in fairness this a a far less offensive piece of scripting than that worthless tosh. It'd also be fair to say that "hot property" of the moment Abrams doesn't make a complete balls of things, only that his efforts here still feel a wee bit television rather than multiplex.
The plot sees Hunt chasing down ?ber arms dealer Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman) whose latest sale threatens to place a purportedly devastating yet ill-defined technology of some sort in the hands of somebody nasty. Or something. Along the way Davian upsets Hunt no end by threatening his cosy new life with cosy new wife Julia (Michelle Monaghan) who has no idea about his real occupation. Schoolboy error. Suffice to say all manner of stuff blows up, from expensive sports cars to even more expensive military helicopters and probably-not-too-cheap-either road bridges, and all manner of gizmos including those good old peely face masks come into play in order to circumvent increasingly tenuous plot twists.
All that incendiary incidence and gleeful gadgetry works well enough, and even if it doesn't engage the senses as much as perhaps it should it still makes this third outing a far more viscerally enjoyable romp than John Woo's hamstrung second installment. Where things don't work so well is in the intervening "serious" stuff. Clearly attempting to bring a fresh angle to the franchise, Kurtzman and Orci have gone for the tired old "make it more human" angle by focusing on Hunt's relationship with his wife. Call me cynical, but that kind of thing reeks of cheap depth injection; the cinematic equivalent of botox designed to plump things up on a superficial level in the hope of convincing us this is anything other than your common or garden big budget action movie. Maybe it worked for Alias; I wouldn't know because I watched fifteen minutes of an episode once and thought it was silly shite of the worst kind. What I can say is that here it most definitely has the wrong effect, with the result being you're left waiting for these unwelcome intrusions to give way to the next set piece.
Now for an action movie that's pretty bad news, so maybe it's just as well that Oscar-winning Hoffman is on board to lend some acting credence to proceedings. Wrooooong. While he's certainly serviceable in the role, there's really very little he can do with the material on offer, and I'm left wondering if his involvement here was simply a means to bankrolling Capote. As foil to Cruise's heroic alter ego The Hoffman still offers better value for money than the film's star whose big contribution here is that he is seen crying, clearly another attempt at making him more human and even less of a big deal than Bruce Willis' similar sniffles in Armageddon. Still, that smile will no doubt keep the ladies moist in ways we mere mortal men can only dream of, even if we're not the ones affiliated to a loony cult who'd rather their women didn't make any noise while squeezing something the size of a watermelon through an opening the size of an egg. But of course I digress.
I suppose I'd better summarise and wrap this thing up, so here goes. The action is fine. The acting is fine. The effects are fine. The direction is fine. Maggie Q's legs are awesome. The running time is twenty minutes too long. The plot filler is cack. Since Maggie Q's legs are effectively cancelled out by the running time and the plot filler (boo!) we are left with the task of taking an average of the four remaining elements, so; M:I3 = (fine + fine + fine + fine) / 4. That makes it..."fine", according to my calculations, and there's nothing wrong with that, only "fine" is probably not what everyone involved was hoping for. Still, if you want to go loading the trailer with all the good bits then don't expect us to go "wow!" when we see them for the tenth time after actually parting with money.
I award this movie 3 out of 5 "Maggie Q has f**king blinding legs" Units.
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Owen Davian)
Michelle Monaghan (Julia)