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Mission Impossible III (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is strapped in a chair with a bomb in his head and a gun to his wifeís head. Multi-billionaire villain Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman) threatens to pull the trigger on the count of ten if Ethan doesnít tell him where the ďrabbitís footĒ is. The count reaches ten, we hear a bang and the film flashes back to Ethanís engagement party to Julia (Michelle Monaghan) from which Ethan is pulled away to rescue a fellow agent, Lindsey (Keri Russell). Thus starts all the action and special effects, which is about all this movie is. There is certainly no character development or much of a plot and absolutely no premise. Itís the insubstantial ďJames BondĒ franchise carried to its logical extreme.

Thatís not to say itís not entertaining. It wasnít edge-of-your-seat stuff like you see on Fox TVís ď24,Ē but itís good enough that I only looked at my watch three times during the 124-minute running time. The stunts are interesting. We donít see any planning, even though what we do see would require months, if not years, of planning to set up. But Ethan and his buddies, Luther (Ving Rhames), Declan (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), and Zhen (Maggie Q) plan complicated heists in the blink of an eye. Itís fun to watch the schemes develop and succeed, even if itís not especially tense (anyone who thinks some of these schemes might not succeed, go sit in the corner).

Director-co/writer (with Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci) JJ Abrams does the best with what he has, which is really just a schematic that sets up various special effects, breaking into the Vatican, an attack on a bridge that looks like its in the Florida Keys, breaking in a highly secured Chinese building, etc., etc. This is a movie of special effects and stunts. The script simply segues from one to the other. Surprise, surprise! The music is based on the TV theme by the legendary Lalo Shifrin.

This is just about as formulaic a film as you could possibly imagine. If youíre sitting through the entire film, however, to find out what the ďrabbitís footĒ is, Iím going to break it to you right now. You wonít find out. In times gone by, when a movie had a McGuffin, it was something that people could understand, like a Maltese Falcon. I guess Hollywood has become so sophisticated that it can now make an entire $100 million movie that lasts more than two hours and never tell its audience what all the hubbub was about.

May 2, 2006