After earning 00 status and a licence to kill, Secret Agent James Bond sets out on his first mission as 007. Bond must defeat a private banker funding terrorists in a high-stakes game of poker at Casino Royale, Montenegro.
A man named Owen Davian kills an IMF agent that was sent undercover by the legendary Ethan Hunt, who has retired from combat missions. Hunt now has a fiancé, Julia, who believes that he works for the traffic department when he really trains younger IMF agents to go into combat. He is assigned to his last mission. His mission, should he choose to accept it is to capture Davian, who is selling a toxic weapon called the rabbits foot. But Davian is reckless, cruel, and deathly. He promises Hunt that he will find Julia, hurt her, and Ethan will be too dead to help her. The mission is no more different to others, its dangerous, smart, and impossible; but now it's personal.
Provides plenty of bangs for the buck but lacks tension or excitement beyond the superficial
In an attempt to get closer to a "normal" life, IMF Agent Ethan Hunt has stepped back from field work and into a training role. His fiancé is none-the-wiser and believes that he works with the local traffic commission, studying patterns and planning improvements. When he learns that one of his top pupils has gone silent in the field and is believed kidnapped, Hunt accepts the offer to lead a rescue team to extract her. The mission sees him coming directly into conflict with the elusive arms dealer Owen Davian.
I didn't expect a great deal from the man that had given me Lost and Alias both series that rely on forward motion to keep them going rather than doing anything in terms of depth or foundation. And so it was with MI3, because despite a few failed efforts to flesh out Hunt's life with a dog and a wife, the action is the all and we never go long without something going bang. Opening with a tense and engaging scene, the step back in time to Hunt's training role was a bit of a blow but it moved past quickly enough. The actual plot is then rolled out and despite being total nonsense from start to finish, is probably enough for those looking for summer thrills. Those looking for more (which, as a fan of the first MI film, I was) will probably not get it because generally the film eschews any detail or sense of intrigue and heads right for the action and spectacle. This has its merits of course but I must admit I wanted more than just that. As it was I let the noisy and shaky cameras bully me into submission and I found myself enjoying the film even I never doubted that it was quite an unremarkable film that attempts little of interest outside of the visual aspect.
As director Abrams shows that he has an eye for movement and excitement but he mostly does it by artificial means as the material is not there to help him. It is not a great turn from him but he has certainly improved on the disappointing second film in the series. The cast are a strange mix but surprisingly nobody really makes much of an impression and they almost all come over like mere plastic models in one big special effects shot. Cruise does charming, driven, angry or determined as the story requires but other than that he lacks depth and in this film his charisma only got him so far for me. Hoffman is miscast although I can see why he accepted the role; he has good presence but the material he is given is below him and aside from one or two genuinely menacing scenes, he mostly just shouts. Rhames is so-so but the film doesn't do much with new crew members Maggie Q (who admittedly looked great) and Rhys-Meyers (who has a knack of grating on me in most of his performances, not sure why). Fishburne is an obvious red-herring; Monaghan is a non-person, unconvincing in the extreme and only there as a pretty narrative device. Simon Pegg was a very strange discovery and his version of Alias' Marshall didn't really work for me and didn't fit with the flow of the film.
Overall then a noisy film that has plenty of running, shooting, shouting and bangs to make it fit the "mindless summer blockbuster" gap at this time of the year. Those looking for more will probably have worked out that Abrams was not the man to give it to them, since hollow but engaging movement without substance is what he does best. The story just about hangs together and I did enjoy the noise but by the end I was longing for some actual, quiet tension and build-up, the like of which the film opened with promisingly but then never managed to deliver again.
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