By: Jacob Bloodee Jacob Babcock
The third entry in the Mission Impossible franchise was released in 2006, the first entry directed by J.J. Abrams. After training recruits (namely Lindsey Farris played by Keri Russell) and spending time away from active duty, living a life for himself, we again follow Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as he faces personal loss, a conspiracy from within his own force as well as a dangerous international broker of arms and information (Philip Seymour Hoffman).
I had seen this movie closer to its original release with family but obviously now my mind and eyes are more both refined and open, as well as my tastes more matured. There’s of course entries after this I still need to see and the series isn’t even done yet, however where I’m at I can easily say this is my favorite of the first few. I believe M:I 3 to be a great middle ground in terms of style and tone between the first two. It brings back some of the genuine suspense, grounded aspects and actual stakes of the original mixed with some grand action and set pieces in line with the flawed but still niche pleasing second. That’s right! Characters actually feel like they can die in this one, with a particularly unnerving and sad end for a character in the main set up and just general vibe, pressure and sense of urgency throughout that makes M:I: 3 a welcomed return to form for the franchise.
Personally I’d also say this is my favorite cast of the series. Cruise of course delivers the same caliber of performance and range he always done, giving his best most consistent work as Hunt thus far. There’s also returning cast members Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg who both feel more crucial to the proceedings than the previous flick. What really rounds out the cast list and makes it as memorable as it was though was the inclusion of Keri Russell and Maggie Q. Both ended up going on to star in two of the best spy based shows in television history, The Americans and Nikita respectively. At the time Russell was more known just for Felicity so I applaud them for taking a slight risk and casting her in a grittier film like this. She’s not in it a lot but she has a key impact and importance that effects the rest of the story. Maggie Q gets a little more screen time and fits right in, bringing her own style and presence that would be brought to the forefront when she led Nikita a handful of years later. I genuinely hope scheduling works out and we can see her in an M:I movie again down the road. The underrated Jonathan Rhys Meyers also has a role on the team as a pilot, the wonderful Michelle Monaghan co-stars as Hunt’s newfound love interest and even a young pre-Breaking Bad Aaron Paul even has a small role as her relative.
The late Philip Seymour Hoffman brings an appropriate menace as our primary villain, Billy Crudup was nice to see and Laurence Fishburne elevates with his mere presence.
The action is all superbly done throughout. It has grit combined with the heightened moments you’d expect without the characters feeling like invulnerable superheroes or something. Cruise pulls off some good stunts even if their not as crazy as later on, but his dedication is always apparent and to be admired. My favorite action bits being the climax in Shanghai as well as a base jumping stunt to get into a building at the height of the film and the opening rescue op where a loss occurs that I don’t see being topped.
Overall I loved M:I:3! It’s nicely paced, has great action with even a bit of emotional resonance that i really appreciated. It bugs me that it seems to be one of the most overlooked films in the franchise when I believe it’s one of the most refined and deserves a lot more credit for setting a gold standard for the movies that followed. Tom Cruise stars in another ace product.