Review of Mission: Impossible III

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Tom Cruise reprises his role as agent Ethan Hunt in this actioner, the third in the series that began with Mission: Impossible (1996) and Mission: Impossible II (2000). Hunt's assignment this time around is to go after a malevolent international arms dealer named Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who kidnaps his fiancée (Michelle Monaghan) halfway throughout the story. Supporting cast members include Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Ving Rhames & Maggie Q.
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Movie Review: "Mission Impossible III"

-- Rating: PG-13
Length: 126 minutes
Release Date: May 5, 2006
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Genre: Action/Adventure/Thriller

"Mission: Impossible III" continues the "Mission: Impossible" tradition, following the action-packed story of Ethan Hunt. Starring Tom Cruise, Michelle Monaghan and Ving Rhames, the movie follows Hunt as he fights to save his fiancée from an insane arms dealer. Like its two predecessors, the movie is filled with chase scenes and shootouts and is certain to delight lovers of action movies.

The story opens on Ethan Hunt, a government secret agent. Hunt is no longer working as a field agent; instead, he has switched to a less dangerous position of training new agents. For the first time in his life, he feels somewhat settled. He is engaged to a nurse named Julia (Michelle Monaghan) and has built a comfortable life. Although he must keep his true profession a secret from Julia, Hunt is happy at home and at work.

Hunt's happiness is not fated to last, however, and he soon finds himself embroiled in yet another dangerous mission. At a party to celebrate his upcoming marriage, Hunt is presented with a new job involving an arms dealer who has kidnapped one of Hunt's colleagues. Despite his pleasant existence, Hunt can't resist the call of duty or the longing for fieldwork. With a few reservations, he accepts the job. Along with his old friend Luther (Ving Rhames), Hunt sets out to vanquish yet another criminal.

The agent's plans are turned upside down when their target, Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman), kidnaps Julia and holds her for ransom. Knowing that Hunt will do anything to protect his fiancée, Davian begins to make demands. Hunt, Luther and their support team are given two days to procure a valuable and well-protected item for Davian. If they fail, Julia will be killed on the spot.

For most film franchises, any movie after the sequel is almost guaranteed to flop. The third and fourth movies in a series are often plagued with tired characters, played-out plots and painful dialogue. "Mission: Impossible III" avoids this pitfall skillfully. It is equally as enthralling as the first two movies in the "Mission: Impossible" series-for many viewers, it will be even more interesting. Director J.J. Abrams and writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci made a calculated decision to take Hunt in a new direction by giving him a personal life. In that context, viewers have the chance to see their favorite super-spy in a new light. He is no longer just a hardened, tortured secret agent; he is capable of love and emotion. Details that would be mundane in any other movie, like the simple act of coming home to a fiancée, take on new depth and meaning.

The sweetness of Hunt's relationship with Julia helps audiences become emotionally invested in the outcome of the film. Viewers are more likely to root for Hunt to succeed when they know that he is fighting to save something meaningful. The added emotional factor gives "Mission: Impossible III" an extra level of urgency and drama that was missing from the first two films.

Tom Cruise embraces the new aspects of his character and gives a strong, nuanced performance as Ethan Hunt. He retains the agent's intensity and steeliness, but adds a touch of gentleness and love that rounds out the character nicely. The addition of a true love interest softens Hunt just enough to bring new life into the role.

The supporting cast members give memorable, skilled performances. As the villain, Philip Seymour Hoffman is chillingly believable. The actor manages to drain the humanity from his entire bearing, from the way he moves to the lack of expression in his eyes. As Luther, Ving Rhames is once again the perfect foil for Tom Cruise. Their supporting team members, Declan (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and Zhen (Maggie Q), add just enough humor to create a sense of lightness, but not so much that it takes away from the action. The four actors have a strong chemistry together, and their energy gives life to even the quietest scene.

Overall, "Mission: Impossible III" breathes new energy into the "Mission: Impossible" series, reinvigorating the characters and the plot. The movie moves quickly, and the perfectly timed plot changes keep viewers on the edges of their seats. The writers added just the right number of new characters to keep the plot interesting, but not so many as to confuse viewers. Although "Mission: Impossible III" is not suitable for very young viewers, it is an excellent choice for adults looking for an action-packed movie-viewing experience.

Rating: 3 out of 5