Sunday, May 07, 2006

Mission Impossible III

In an attempt to give a bit more substance to the persona of Ethan Hunt, the script for the third MI movie has fashioned him as an amalgam of James Bond, Jason Bourne and Harry Tasker from True Lies. Yet Hunt obstinately remains less than the sum of these parts; it's still just Tom Cruise. He even has a love interest cast as a Katie Holmes look-alike.

Surfer and I were once again well-positioned in row D of Screen 1 over at the Kensington Odeon, our preferred venue for the louder sort of movie. (The volume in there really is optimised for noise rather than dialogue.)

Entertaining yet exhausting would be my final verdict. "It seems to have moved up a gear since the last one," commented Surfer with a yawn at the end. Either that or we have shifted down one!

In the same way I now lack the mental agility to get my head around some of today's first person computer games, many of the faster-paced sequences here were playing just beyond the limits of my perception. I also found this kind of ultra-jerky camera-work annoying in the Bourne Supremacy, but at least agency outcast Bourne interacts a bit more deeply with his foreign locations.

In spite of all the bangs and the running around, there isn't actually that much action, at least not in the sense that John Woo, director of MI:2, would understand the term. Hunt's foe here, Owen Davian, appropriately matches him for lack of substance. Yet Philip Seymour Hoffmann makes the most of two scenes where he is charged with exuding a deeply menacing nastiness; it's just a shame he has to do a 'talking bad guy' stint at the end. By then, making Hunt's life unpleasant in a rather complicated way seems to have become more important to him than whatever his original scheme was.

How many times does Ethan Hunt have to be betrayed by his own colleagues before he starts to consider a career change? If it wasn't for the perfect American white picket fence life that seems to be beckoning here, you'd certainly be asking some serious questions about the source of his motivation.

Another quibble: the plot-shifts in the final Shanghai sequence seem to invalidate at least part of what we have seen earlier. (Spoiler: if the agency chief isn't in league with Davian, who had the authority to call in the air strike and the black choppers?)

There was one good bit of unintentional comedy - one of Hunt's IMF colleagues explains his vision for the endgame thus: "And then we'll do what America does best...clean up." Hello...Iraq?

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