Remember when I said that Ethan Hunt went on his most personal mission in “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”? Well, I take all that back now that I’ve seen “Mission: Impossible III.” Not only does Tom Cruise get a chance to do more than just run and perform amazing stunts, but he gets to hold a grudge and do questionable things that keep this spy thriller interesting.
I have no problem saying this is the best film in the “Mission: Impossible” series.
This is mostly due to the superb acting from not only Tom Cruise, but also the ever-elegant Philip Seymour Hoffman. He plays the elusive Owen Davian, a black-market dealer who has funded terrorist organizations with money and weapons for years, yet has never been close to being captured. When Davian kidnaps one of Hunt’s former students, Ethan makes it his personal mission to hunt down this criminal and bring him in, especially before he gets his target, an unknown device called the Rabbit’s Foot.
From the beginning, we’re told that Ethan is done with the secret agent business and has decided to settle down. Normally, this would be a cliché way of getting the older veteran back into the action one last time, but with “Mission: Impossible III,” Cruise makes it all seem legitimate. Hunt has found a woman he is willing to settle down with and raise a family, get a normal job and go about living like a regular man. He never stops smiling when he’s around his fiancée, Julia (Michelle Monaghan), and takes every opportunity to be near her. It comes across like he doesn’t miss the agency, and only takes the mission when he learns the woman he treats like his little sister is missing.
That’s what makes this so personal – Ethan was ready to give it all up, only for a despicable man to take his shining chance at happiness and force him to watch it die right in front of him.
It is difficult to get a beat on Hoffman’s character, whether he takes a delight in causing pain in others like the Joker, or if he only does it because he feels he has to, like Anthon Chigurh from “No Country For Old Men.” Owen Davian falls somewhere in the middle, where he will resort to brutal and under-handed tactics to get what he wants, but his facial expressions suggest that he is either keeping his happiness hidden or feels nothing. This is due to Hoffman’s brilliant acting, with the right mix of creepiness, subtlety and mystery.
Of course, like the other films in the franchise, “Mission: Impossible III” has some great stunt work, especially when dealing with leaping from tall buildings in Shanghai with nothing to cling to but a small parachute. With Tom Cruise still doing all of his own stunts and little to no CGI, the moment where we see Ethan nearly slide off a slippery skyscraper has quite an impact.
Overall, “Mission: Impossible III” was a blast to watch, with a great mix of drama, suspense and comedy when it needed to. The gadgets are not overused and fit in nicely with the world these films have built. Cruise and Hoffman turn in some great moments together and give this movie the emotional punch that it needed. I highly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys spy films of any kind.
Final Grade: A-