Starring Tom Cruise and Philip Seymour Hoffman
Directed by J.J. Abrams
Chiefly, "M:I 3" is superbly entertaining. I liked Cruise at the start of his career; around the "Jerry McGuire" era, I started to find him extremely annoying, but around about the time of "Minority Report" (2002) he went on a really good run of films, and I gradually came to like him again. He's certainly immensely charismatic in this movie. Recently married (to Michelle Monaghan's character) Hunt genuinely has something to fight for, and to lose, and this gives the film an added punch. Michelle is great as the wife who slowly comes to realise that there is more to her husband than she first thought, and comes into genuine danger towards the film's climax (incidentally kicking some serious ass along the way - go girl!). As one would expect from a film in this series, the globe is well and truly crossed, from Washington to Rome, eventually to a beautifully shot Shanghai (predating "Skyfall" but looking no less wonderful.). I believe that this was the first Western production to be allowed to film in China.
It's all pretty standard stuff for a film like this in a genre like this, nothing new, in other words. It feels like something we've seen a hundred times before, but not quite. It's almost as if the set-pieces have been given a slight tweak, so they feel a little more original. For example, a helicopter chase takes place not just over, but also through a giant wind-farm, leading the audience to fear and / or expect one of the helicopters to be hit by a huge rotating propeller. A missile attack at one point takes place on what seems to be the longest bridge / causeway in the world - I presume it's the Florida Keys. Narratively we see from the very first scene Hunt, captured by Davian, tied to a chair and his wife with a gun to her head, so the film is essentially 85% flashback. We know where he ends up, but it's enjoyable finding out how he got there. Hunt seems more interesting this time round, probably due to his emotional involvement - in addition to his romantic situation, early in the film a character he's close to and trained up, is killed off, so he's trying to keep a lid on the grief from that.
Abrams' direction is impressive. For sure there is a measure of "Shaky-cam", and quick cutting, but the action is always coherent. Although he was an experienced operator in the TV world at the time, as a feature debut, charged with reviging a high-profile franchise, no less, this is strong work. It's by a long chalk the best of the M:I films. It's not a guilty pleasure, there's nothing about which to be guilty. It's a well put together piece of fluffy entertainment, but does exactly what it sets out to do. Mission: Accomplished.