Mission: Impossible III (Movie Review)
--- 7/10 - Good -
Here we are, finally the first good M: I film. I was starting to question my faith in this series. But in came J.J. Abrams with his Directorial Debut.
This series has been all about the director roulette so let’s start with Abrams and his Cinematographer Dan Mindel. They compose a highly contrasted image. With oranges & blues as the main highlights of their color pallet. It gives the entire film a neon-soaked tint, and an element of harshness that matches the newfound grittiness that Abrams brings to this entry.
Abrams also films this with a lot more motion, almost every shot includes camera movement, whether it’s panning in and out or left to right. The camera is always following the action, giving it a much more kinetic feel. They also employ a heavy use of handheld segments, they are never shaky to the point of nausea but there are segments where faces are being clipped out of the frame because of it.
The biggest problem I have with Abrams direction is how close so many of his shots are. There were shots accompanied by movements or shaky cam that ruined the impact because the framing was so tight. I constantly felt constricted by how close they were, I wish I could just move the camera back a bit just to add some breathing room.
The editing is clean and fast. One of the biggest highlights is Abrams best buddy & composer Michael Giacchino and he delivers! His symphonic score truly gives fresh breath into this film. The score anchors the picture down with a consistently good use of sound, and flourishes.
The plot is where the film, in my opinion, has its biggest strengths and its biggest weakness. The story lays some seeds of themes that are interesting, like trading one life for millions, or falling in love when you’re a spy and some solid revenge. But none of those are really capitalized on.
The whole saving one life for millions is literally only mentioned and never truly dived into, which is fine. Then the love story, though at times cheesy and forced, gets the job done. And the revenge thing is just okay. I feel like this movie had the parts necessary to truly make a great story.
The parts where it truly slips is with the villain, he gets very little to actually do and be a part of. I wish they would’ve restructured the film entirely and pitted the villain and hero into a tango of conflict. Which leads me to the absolute greatest thing about this film.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Damn is he a great actor. He is given lines that are seemingly generic. He has literally no backstory. On paper, I can see no reason for interest. Yet somehow Hoffman delivers a scene stealing, magnetic, and terrifying character. The film starts with him and Cruise, and the sweat, tears and yelling that occurs is just visceral. To think that his character is not given center stage and juiced for more conflict is truly a waste.
And it becomes utterly offensive, lazy and just horribly uncreative the way the film exit’s the character. It ended that arc and the Film entirely in a weightless, empty manner.
But back to Cruise, he does his best to keep up emotionally throughout the film, but he just can’t match Hoffman. Cruise isn’t bad by any means, he just doesn’t have the chops to sell the emotional weight thoroughly, it still works for the most part though. He is still awkward and impersonal when it comes to social interactions and the whole romance thing, it’s not Cruises best skill. And the whole family/relation dynamic is serviceable.
Now to the biggest thing that this series is known for. The Action! And honestly, there weren’t much memorable action sequences. There is slick shootouts and a few fistfights. But nothing stood out to me and even thinking back to them now, none were that intense either. You got a hell scene but most of it felt fake and flat to me. The bridge conflict also felt too set up and fuzzy. The heist scene was literally off camera, and then a very subpar chase sequence and the ending fight ended with such haste that it was also forgettable. Dare I say this film has the worst set pieces from the entire franchise? Well, it does.
So in Ending,
J.J. Abrams debuts with this glossy, neon-soaked entry into the M: I franchise. It’s modern, grounded and confident. Tom Cruise does his best to reach new emotional heights. The stunts and action are fine but almost forgettable. The highlight is Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who embodies terror. Though the story cuts him short and falls shy on the promise of a tense emotional journey. It is still a good spy flick and a peek at what is to come from this series.