Saturday, May 6

Cruising for Bruising

Last night, I got to watch Mission Impossible III on the way home after a hard week of work. What I got was a pleasantly entertaining, action-packed and romance-laden romp care of Tom "Ethan Hunt" Cruise and director J.J. "Alias" Abrams.
It's been several years after the end of the last MI film, and maverick IMF agent Ethan Hunt has largely retired from active duty, working now mostly behind a desk to train the next crop of spies. Moreover, he's gotten a winsome fiancee named Julia (Michelle Monaghan) who's madly in love with him. Unfortunately, Ethan's plans for martial bliss and a happy home life are disturbed when a colleague (Billy Crudup) comes to him with alarming news; one of their agents, played by Keri Russell, has been captured while investigating the activities of an infamous black market dealer, Owen Davian (Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman). Since Ethan trained the missing agent himself, he can't help but go active once more to get her out. What happens next is a series of snowballing events as Ethan's hidden life soon begins to endanger his future and, in particular, the woman he wishes to share it with.

I've read in an article that MI3 is, in many ways, a remake of True Lies (that classic spy action comedy with Ah-nuld and Jamie Lee Curtis). And it's true- MI3 has the super spy, the ignorant love interest and a vile villain ready to spoil everything. However, MI3 seems more focused on the people, rather than the crisis, which makes it probably the most personal battle Ethan Hunt has faced. Like in most of JJ Abram's spy flicks (including his Alias series), the thing in the case, the McGuffin being chased after, really isn't the point. It's about the spies and what they go through to get it. That said, MI3 is still full to the brim with gunfights, car stunts, chases, suspenseful heists and high-level intrigue which viewers have come to expect from the series.

Tom Cruise is once again in top form as Ethan Hunt- he's a bit older and domesticated now, instead of the invincible super agent with the mad motorcycling skillz and the taste for suicidal mountaineering he had in part two. Still, he's got that hero thing down pat and that makes for great, enjoyable action. Back as well is the only other MI fixture, Ving Rhames as Hunt's right hand Luther Stickel. Stickel isn't as talkative or as comedic as Tom Arnold was in True Lies, but he provides the laughs just the same.
Debuting as new IMF agents in MI3 are dynamite-looking Hong Kong superstar Maggie Q and Jonathan Rhys Meyers as a femme fatale and a man of a dozen faces, respectively. They don't get that much screen time, but you like them instantly so that's great. Also new to MI3 is the Man, Morpheus himself, Laurence Fishburne as IMF Commander Brassel, and Shaun of the Dead's Simon Pegg as Benji, IMF's answer to Q.

As for MI3's trailer-boy Owen Davian, yeah, he's a despicable villain, and having Philip Seymour Hoffman's genial, soft looks (I really see him like an older, more respectable Jack Black) works. Unfortunately, his best scene really IS that exact scene where he gives the threat about hurting Hunt's wife or girlfriend... and we've all seen it already. There sadly isn't enough of him as there was of baddies in previous MI films. Oh well, he's good while he's there.

On the whole, MI3 is a thrill ride- from the intriguing and unusual opening to the tons of action-packed sequences that pepper the film throughout, this is a great popcorn movie if I ever saw one... certainly the best in the trilogy, in my opinion. Great action and drama, humor and Tom Cruise doing his thing. Worst part of it? That I saw a big plot twist a MILE away. Oh well. At least, there are no overdramatic uses of doves. Heh.

Mission IMpossible III is now showing in Manila theaters. Watch it!

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