Friday, May 05, 2006

Mission Impossible III - Movie Review

Summer is here. Take out your wallets (and handbags) and be ready to shell out some serious cash towards the coffers of Hollywood studios. MI-3 officially kicks starts the summer blockbuster season. Blockbusters- meaning that you are expected to leave your sense of logic at home and if possible shave off 10-20 points from your IQ score- for maximum results and enjoyment.

Lets get back to the movie. Like all returning secret agents, agent Ethan Hunt is happily living a normal life, after a self-imposed retirement. And like any self-respecting secret agent, he is of course having an unbelievably great relationship, and when the movie starts, the pair is just about announcing their engagement. Here is a question: How do you prove the alpha-male status of a near-superhero agent? Conventional wisdom dictates that the incredibly good looking hero have a steaming, incredibly romantic relationship with another incredibly good looking member of the opposite sex. Wrong answer. Pair him up with an obviously not-so-goodlooking-heroine and this is supposed to instantly humanize our hero and bestow a romantic-god-everyman status on him. This act of romantic magnanimity, is supposed to reinforce and elevate his alpha-male status.

Once again, I am digressing. This is the wrong approach to view a blockbuster. Now, seriously, lets get back to the movie. Agent Hunt is called back into action, after one of his prodigies is kidnapped. He inevitably tangles himself up with the bad guys, and serious mayhem ensues. The bad guys are really bad, the good guys are relentlessly good, and the heroine is insultingly insufferable. The action sequences are thrilling enough to carry the film and there are enough foreign locations and action set-peices and emotional turmoil in the movie to keep you engaged for two hours.

The bad guy here is Philip Seymour Hoffman. He gives a stunning performance, a performance with such merit, that I started questioning whether the movie deserves such a performance. I haven't seen such evil exude out of any villain. One look at him, you might want to turn in the opposite direction and start running. The movie is supported by a list of first-rate actors: Billy Crudup, Laurence Fishburne & Jonathan Rhys-Myers. The background score is used with delicious playfulness to incite the mood and suggest impending twists, without overexposing the already extremely famous theme music.

Such franchise films (like James Bond films) develop a template which is faithfully followed with enough variation to invite the viewers back to the theaters. Some components of the MI template: (i) rubber masks, which allows the hero and villains to switch identities instantly (this concept is stretched to the limits of human acceptance).(ii) self-destructing video-messages (iii) Tom Cruise suspended by a thin wire, almost hitting the floor (several times in this movie). This is a good action movie, certainly not in the top-tier of action films (like True Lies, The Rock and Face-Off). It could serve as an action appetizer for the impending summer blockbusters (Superman Returns and Pirates of Carribean 2).


Tafosi said...

Great to have you back. This film didn't work for me. In fact I am so indifferent that I don't even feel like arguing against its shortcomings. And what in the world is PSH doing in a mess like this? He did try his best though.
Once upon a time I thought Cruise was a good actor (Jerry Maguire). However, the more I see of him, I don't detect any variation at all. He lacks the range which someone like Tom Hanks as. He is still good, but he'll never be great.

nmagesh said...

I agree. I think hiring J.J.Abrams to do this movie was a big mistake. He is a sappy director and makes sappiness interesting. For a period of 1 or 2 years, David Fincher (The Game, Seven) was attached to do MI-3. Now, he could have taken it to the next level and made it darker and far more interesting, with Cruise's influence a little less obvious. Thinking back, there was too much Cruise present in it all. Even when he was not on screen, his presence was threateningly imminent.

As far as this movie is concerned, I did not feel bored and it just about worked for me.

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