Saturday, 4 April 2009

Mission Impossible 3


Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Written by: Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman & J.J. Abrams
Starring: Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michelle Monaghan & Ving Rhames

An underrated Hollywood Blockbuster and a corking action film, MI3 may bare little resemblance to the original show it's based on but as a slice of pure, unadulterated action cinema with a hard edge, it’s as good as it gets. Brian De Palma’s first big screen instalment was a memorable blockbuster that despite twisting and turning itself inside out in the plot department was relatively faithful to the show and full of suspense. John Woo’s follow up is not as fondly remembered despite featuring some grandstanding action but was even further away from the show’s sensibilities and more geared around the man, the legend, Tom Cruise. But the franchise gets well and truly back on track with Alias and Lost creator J.J. Abrams, and his crew, being brought on board to craft a slick Hollywood Blockbuster that doesn’t forget the emotion or suspense. Oh yeah, it also features one of the best screen bad guys.

That bad guy is Owen Davian (a thoroughly nasty Philip Seymour Hoffman) who is attempting to get hold of and then sell to the highest bidder something called the Rabbit’s Foot: a dangerous weapon which may just destroy, well, everything. He is also holding active IMF agent Lindsey Farris (Keri Russell) hostage. IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Crusie) is called back into the field to rescue Lindsey, all the while trying to keep his IMF identity from his new wife (Monaghan). With team in tow (Rhames, Maggie Q and Jonathan Rhys Myers) Hunt attempts to rescue Lindsey and catch Davian and what follows is some of the finest set-piece cinema.

Abrams makes the transition from small screen to big screen effortlessly, delivering a taught, action packed movie. This instalment sets itself apart from the previous entries with a tense opening showing what a bastard Davian is and what Hunt has install for himself. Proceedings then rocket off as Hunt is reinstated into the IMF field. The cast share good chemistry, this new IMF team gelling well and getting in on the action making up for the teamwork element that was sorely missing from Part 2. Abrams skilfully handles the elements of action, suspense and drama and even finds space for Laurence Fishburne, Billy Crudup and Simon Pegg to spout off snappy dialogue.

Yet, it’s the set pieces that really sell MI3. The scenes crackle with invention and creativity and, the most important element in staging great action, momentum. Stunt master supreme Vic Armstrong (Indiana Jones) helps Abrams and his crew deliver energy charged action scene after action scene. The opening gambit in Berlin is a fire powered fuelled, tension packed sequence featuring gritty gunplay and hand-to-hand combat, topped off with an impressive helicopter chase. All the action plays out well, never over-edited or saturated with jerky camerawork and the piece-de-resistance is the ambush bridge sequence. Perhaps one of the best coordinated and played for tension action scenes to come out of Hollywood in an age, this sequence ramps up explosions, cars flipping, gunplay and a renegade drone firing off missiles to deliver action movie heaven. And the bit where the helicopter rises up displaying faceless, emotionless mercenaries with Hunt realizing he and his team may just be out of their depth is goose bump inducing, things-are-about-to-go-off-big-time-greatness.

With enough story and interesting plot twists between the big set-pieces to make you care for the characters, MI3 rarely puts a foot wrong in terms of big budget action filmmaking. The only downside is perhaps a bit too much emphasis on the “awesomeness” of Cruise as despite the team element, he still gets to do the majority of the stuff. Still, for adrenaline soaked action cinema, MI3 is great stuff; the best in the series and shows Abrams has got some mighty chops in the action department.

No comments: