Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Written by:Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, J.J. Abrams
Starring: Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Laurence Fishburne, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Keri Russell, Billy Crudup, Michelle Monaghan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Released: May 4, 2006
Grade: B+

To date, we’ve seen Ethan Hunt (Cruise) survive two impossible missions.  Now, he’s ready for a third.  If he continues at this rate, I’ll be wondering if there even is such a thing as an “impossible mission”.

I speak jokingly of course.  When I thought about the film afterwards, I realised that it’s the insanely crazy situations that Tom Cruise manages to extricate himself from that gives it such appeal.  In Mission: Impossible 3, he dodges missiles from a fighter jet, jumps off a high-rise building and is electrocuted by live wires.  It won’t win awards for realism but there were certain scenes (the high-rise jump in particular) that gave me a genuine adrenalin rush.

The villain in this instalment is played by Academy Award winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote).  He plays Owen Davian, a wealthy arms dealer with friends in the Middle East.  Davian’s illegal activities have attracted the attention of the Impossible Missions Force who want evidence against this slippery individual so that he can be bought to justice.

Hunt and his team (including Ving Rhames and Jonathan Rhys Meyers) have a range of gadgets at their disposal that would make James Bond jealous.  They go too far in my opinion and the best example is the “face making” machine used early in the film.  When speaking of dramatic action flicks, I see the Bourne Identity series as much more appealing.  The bad people are brought to justice with intelligent thinking rather than ridiculous gizmos.

My other gripe with the film is how serious it takes itself.  There’s no reality in the plot so I thought the writers would have taken the chance to throw in more humorous moments.  Not that I want to compare the film to the James Bond series (which has its own weaknesses), but at least Bond has a sense of humour.  The Ethan Hunt character is too full-on for my liking but I confess this is a matter of taste and others will feel differently.

Mission: Impossible 3 is the first major film directed by J.J. Abrams, the man who directed the first two episodes of the Lost television series.  He has also written a few screenplays including Joy Ride, Forever Young and Armageddon.  It’s a superb debut for Abrams who has made the most of a $150m budget.  It looks awesome on the big screen and credit also must go to stylish cinematographer Daniel Mindel (The Bourne Identity, Domino).

No member of the cast stands out but neither do any let the film down.  Cruise is his usual self and whilst I haven’t liked him in many of his recent films, his passionate personality suits the role.  Hoffman has a fun time as the villain but doesn’t have as much screen time or dialogue as I anticipated.  His character is very much underdeveloped.

Mission: Impossible 3 is easily the best film in the series to date.