My mate Nik won't see this film because he does not want to enrich Tom Cruise and thence the Church of Scientology. I paraphrase. What he actually said was, "I’m not going to see MI3 on principle. The principle is that Tom Cruise is a cock." While I agree with Nik's sentiment, I have two words for him and all Tom-haters, and those two words are "air conditioning". Yes, summer is here my friends, and when the going gets hot, Bina hits the Odeon.
But enough of that and on with the show. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE III is a half-way decent summer blockbuster. Minimal plot, lots of cool stunts, above-average looking-people, great one-liners. Clearly, it is ridiculous. We are in a world where Tom Cruise can pass himself off as Philip Seymour Hoffman just by donning a latex mask! But that kind of bizarre lunacy is why I love this franchise so much. And, yes, Tom Cruise may seem a tad bizarre when you read the press, but to my mind no-one does mindless action better. We get the added bonus of 1980s nostalgia, most obviously in a scene where Tom rides a motorbike up to a plane on a runway, wearing aviator sunglasses at sunset. I could almost hear "Take my breath away" on the ether.
The plot is beside the point, but for tradition's sake, let me lay it out for you. Tom Cruise reprises his role as Ethan Hunt, a secret agent with a US Government Agency called the IMF. He has quit field work for a training role and a chance at a real life and marriage. However, when his protege is kidnapped, he returns to the field to track down the evil arms dealer, Owen Davian, and secure the return of the dangerous new weapon, codename Rabbit's Foot. And here is where the movie really gets into gear, because we are presented with a host of BADASSES, towit Philip Seymour Hoffman as the evil Davian, Laurence Fishburne as Tom/Ethan's boss and Ving Rhames as Tom/Ethan's side-kick Luther Stickell. These guys steal the show, not least when the hillariously out-of-shape Hoffman kicks the shit out of Cruise. Man oh man, all you Tom-Haters should pay-up just for that vicarious thrill.
But as much as I enjoyed the balls-out ridiculousness of this movie, there is a big problem every time it switches from action to romance. The movie jumps the shark about 35 minutes in thanks to the most stupid, cringe-worthy wedding scene since Four Weddings & A Funeral. Thereafter, every time we get Tom Cruise together with his on-screen wife, you feel the need to laugh out loud. In fact, a supposedly emotional reunion triggered the biggest unintended laugh in the theatre apart from the nauseatingly bad trailor for the latest Bond movie. I know that MI3 is not meant to be a high-fallutin' drama, and maybe I am being harsh to mark it down for making me laugh when I should have been feeling all loved up. But this stuff was so bad it really took me out of my happy, popcorn-tastic vibe. Good action flicks don't deviate from the task at hand. Bad ones have pretensions beyond their grasp. So, like Luther Stickell says, whereas some boldness is required with the stunts and visual effects, there is a point when bold manipulation of the genre becomes stupidity. MI3 may not fall over the line, but it comes too close for comfort.
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE III is on global release.