Once again, Ethan Hunt must track down a criminal mastermind and root out a secret betrayer within the IMF ranks, this time, before his wife pays the ultimate price.
This is my favorite of the M:I franchise, I think. Maybe 1. No. 3 is my favorite. Or if it isn’t it’s close.
There are basically 3 reasons this film work so well for me. Villain, set pieces, and teams. These are the three elements that make the best M:I movies what they are and this is movie nails them all.
Owen Davian is the best villain of the franchise. First, the character is written well. He’s a character that doesn’t compromise, backs up the threats he makes, and it doesn’t matter how close you are to the main characters in the story, this villain won’t consider them off limits.
Then you add on top of the writing, the acting of Phillip Seymour Hoffman (“Synecdoche, New York”). His presence on screen is brutal and matter of fact. He elevates a character that might seem like a bit of a mustache twirler, counting to ten and tying up a damsel, into a fully fledged character that while harsh and uncaring doesn’t feel like a cartoon character.
This third film in the franchise is where they really hit their stride with the stunts and set pieces. The epic bridge scene with the sideways blast into the side of an SUV is an iconic shot of the series, and the fulcrum swing onto the roof of the skyscraper in Beijing foreshadows some of the larger set pieces in store for us in the next two films.
They aren’t quite at the same level as the skyscraper scaling scenes that are to come, where people are talking about seeing the stunt even before the movie releases but the seeds are there without pushing it into the ridiculous Xtreme category of "M:I 2.”
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
"M:I 3” corrects the mistake of "M:I 2” and remembers that while Cruise is the star of the film, and Hunt is the frontman of the team, the team is what makes these impossible missions, possible.
Ethan Hunt is not James Bond. He isn’t just given gadgets and a tuxedo and sent in on his own. He acts as a crucial part of a machine but every part of the machine is crucial. Some of the characters in this film are the mainstays of the series and while some members of his team die, their loss is felt because the other members of his team are so vital.
When one member dies, the team suffers, not just emotionally but operationally. Watching this teams' gears interlock and click into place perfectly is satisfying and seeing them scramble when a wrench is thrown into the works is all the more harrowing because we know how it should work when all goes off without a hitch.
None of this matters if the stakes aren’t meaningful and perhaps that is the best thing about this film. While there is a vague worldwide threat looming beyond the horizon, the real stakes of the movie are Hunt’s personal relationships. His wife and the life they want to build.
The question is not, will a bomb blow up. The question is will Ethan’s wife make it out of this alive and if she does, will she still love and trust him. Those are stakes worthy of leaping from buildings.
Like the Mission: Impossible series? So do we! Check out our all of our reviews for Mission: Impossible, Mission: Impossible 2, Mission: Impossible 3, Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation, and Mission: Impossible: Fallout.
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