2.5/4, 2000s, Action, JJ Abrams, Mission Impossible, Review

Mission: Impossible III

Image result for mission impossible iii poster banner

For most of this movie’s runtime, it’s quite an enjoyable high tech spy thriller, but I absolutely hate it’s last twenty minutes.

I’ve only seen this twice: once upon its initial theatrical run and just recently on Amazon Prime. I remember feeling largely the same reaction then as I did this time, and the epicenter of that visceral reaction is actually the opening few minutes of the film.

You see, the opening sequence is actually a scene from late in the film, pushed forward, and it’s a complete lie. It shoes Ethan Hunt strapped to a chair as Owen Davian, the antagonist, counts to ten and shoots Ethan’s wife in the head. On its own, it’s a wonderful bit of tension filled filmmaking, but in the context of the rest of the movie it becomes obvious that it’s actually a mistake narratively. You see, we spend the rest of the movie until we catch up with that opening scene with the knowledge that Julia, the wife, dies. This paints every interaction with her with a sense of inevitable sadness (which I like), but the character is thin. We excuse the thinness because of the tragic ending we know is coming.

However, Julia isn’t actually shot in the head. They used one of those awesome masks to hide the identity of Davian’s assistant (who had failed him previously). So, we’ve spent about 90 minutes of the film believing that Julia had a certain fate in a deliberate editing trick meant to deceive the audience. Also, the movie doesn’t really build up a character at all. She’s just nice girl Ethan marries because she’s not part of the spy game. It’s all a lie intended to trick the audience into an emotional reaction only to immediately pull it away and say, “Never mind!” Instead of earning an emotional reaction, the movie tricks the audience into one and then just pulls back the curtain immediately.

To make things worse, the movie after that point is poorly written and ridiculous. Last minute rewrites are delivered flatly while nice little Julia ends up killing several trained assassins. It’s such a terrible way to end a movie that actually has me for most of its running time.

And it does have me for it. Brushing aside the first few minutes, Ethan Hunt and his Impossible Mission Force teammates run around Rome and China having a grand adventure with neat gadgets and pinpoint timing. Breaking into the Vatican is really fun. The insistence on getting into the nitty-gritty of building the mask for Ethan to wear and impersonate Davian is a wonderful source of tension that carries most of the sequence really well. The actors are charming and fun. The action sequence with Keri Russell, breaking her out of a large abandoned warehouse outside of Berlin is inventive, gritty, and really well executed.

If not for the needless emotional fakeout, I would like this movie a good bit more, but, even with a second viewing under my belt, I cannot let that pass. It’s dishonest and makes me want to throw things.

Netflix Rating: 3/5

Quality Rating: 2.5/4

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