Archive for Thursday, May 11, 2006

Now Showing-Mission:Impossible 3

May 11, 2006

It's been cool and rainy and the kids are still in school, but as far as Hollywood is concerned, summer is here. Beginning Friday and continuing through Aug. 18, every week finds the release of at least one major theatrical motion picture. Regardless of the weather or timing, the types of movies identify the season: five sequels, three remakes, directors Wolfgang Petersen, Ron Howard, Brett Ratner, Bryan Singer, M. Night Shayamalan, Michael Mann and Kevin Smith, and actors Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Jack Black, Adam Sandler, Johnny Depp, Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell and Samuel L. Jackson.

("Jeff Owens, your mission, should you choose to accept it:, is to watch one of these movies each week, then report back with your thoughts and feelings. Your head will self-destruct in 15 weeks...")

First up was Friday's release of "Mission: Impossible 3," the very prototype of the summer movie. Its intended formula: big star plus big action plus big story equals big box office. The actual product: big ego plus big explosions plus big running time. But the result is still the same: big box office.

I once heard Tom Cruise say that he intended for the "Mission: Impossible" series to showcase different directors and their unique styles. The first "Mission: Impossible" (1996) was the intricate (confusing) vision of a deliberately-paced Brian DePalma. The second (2000) was the action-heavy (story-light) vision of the white dove-worshipping John Woo.

This time, we have the vision of J.J. Abrams, the brilliant television writer-producer-director who created such hits as "Felicity," "Alias" and "Lost," but a first-time movie director. His version of IMF agent Ethan Hunt and his adventures plays an awful lot like an expanded episode of "Alias." That's OK; "Alias" is a great show, often very theatrical itself in its action and mythology.

Credited as one of the screenwriters (with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, also of "Alias"), Abrams fills "Mission: Impossible III" with many of his signature touches. Most notable is the amount of heart this movie has. The action revolves around the romance of Hunt and his new wife, Julia, played by the lovely Michelle Monaghan. From the very first scene, we find both characters held prisoner by villain Phillip Seymour Hoffman, living up to the promise he's made in the trailers for "M:I III" that we've been seeing for months.

If you somehow missed them, Hoffman promises Cruise that he will find his wife, kill him in front of her, then kill her. This actual scene takes place midway through the movie, the bulk of which is a flashback from the brutal introduction. Hoffman plays a great villain who is truly a bad guy. There's no waffling or rambling monologues which allow our heroes to escape; if he says he's going to shoot at the count of 10, you can be sure that he's going to.

In its entirety, this "Mission" is more accessible than the first with a less-complicated plot. But it has more story than the second, with more purpose to the chaos. I'd say it's the best of the three, although in many ways it's the lightest.

Oh, who am I kidding? The truly impossible mission is to review this movie. It is what it is. You get exactly what you pay for. It's exciting and a lot of fun. But it satisfies your summer movie fix for only a week until the next one comes out. This one becomes a recent memory and people begin asking when "Mission: Impossible III" comes out on DVD.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.