Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Though not lacking in action -- indeed, this installment boasts some of the series’ most elaborate set pieces -- Mission: Impossible III emphasizes characterization more than its predecessors did, raising the film far above the level of the typical “popcorn movie.” As the story begins, Impossible Mission Force agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has retired from field work and begun training younger operatives. When one of them, Lindsey Farris (Keri Russell), is captured while on assignment, Ethan is unable to rescue her but manages to snare brilliant, remorseless arms dealer Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman). This is just the prelude: Upon escaping from custody, the revenge-seeking Davian embarks on his biggest caper yet and kidnaps Ethan’s fiancée, Julia (Michelle Monaghan), knowing full well that Hunt will follow and, eventually, walk into his trap. In the skillful hands of Hoffman, for our money one of the best actors working in films today, the villain becomes far more believable -- and therefore more frightening -- than run-of-the-mill, two-dimensional, action-movie bad guys. The scenes in which he confronts Cruise’s character are unusually chilling, and the viewer has no trouble believing him supremely capable of making good on his blood-curdling threats. Having an actor of Hoffman’s caliber opposite him spurs Cruise to new flights of histrionic fancy, and his performance is markedly better than it was in the second installment. Director J. J. Abrams (Lost) gives his two stars plenty of elbow room, figuratively speaking, without losing sight of what this franchise needs to deliver: high-tech gadgetry, supercharged chase sequences, and physically demanding feats of derring-do. Ving Rhames is back as transportation specialist Luther Stickell, and series newcomers Jonathan Rhys-Meyer and Maggie Q make small but significant contributions as recent additions to the IMF team. Faster, smarter, and more emotionally engaging than most of today’s action thrillers, M:I III ups the ante considerably for future films in this popular genre.
All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
There is a thin line between a big dumb action film and a big ridiculous action film. The first assumes the audience will turn out no matter what the filmmakers do, while the second is made by people who enjoy the outrageous over-the-top stunts just as much as the audience. Mission: Impossible III is a big ridiculous action film. The action sequences for the most part do not inspire awe with breathtaking effects, but they do provide giggles because of how the complications pile up -- the big set pieces are well-written. The gadgetry and the pacing will remind viewers of the best of the Bond films, and the supporting cast often provides welcome surprises. Philip Seymour Hoffman is riveting as the bad guy, and fans of the actor will enjoy the moment when he gets to play Tom Cruise playing his character -- a sentence that will make more sense to those familiar with the Mission: Impossible series. First-time feature director J.J. Abrams strikes a fine balance between character and action, allowing supporting players to register without ever letting it feel like anyone other than Tom Cruise is the center of the film. That may be a stumbling block for those who have grown tired of Cruise, but anyone else should feel satisfied with this solid, enjoyable effort.