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Things self-destruct on Merrick all the time, but there's never any message!

MiraJeff sent in his take on MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III - a film I liked far more than I expected to.

What’s interesting about M:I3 is the simplicity with which its source material is re-approached. There is no ego-driven, radical re-invention here; “from the ground up” rethinking is not evident. Abrams and company simply looked at the core material that was available to them, and added spunk, depth and flair. They don’t undercut or re-define anything about MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – at least not that I can tell. They merely find its heart, nurture it, and give it a makeover.

As a writing/producing team, their attachment to STAR TREK is incomprehensibly wise. If they demonstrate the same respect for (and understanding of) that material, TREK fans may…very well…be in for something truly special.


Greetings AICN, MiraJeff here with a look at the biggest movie of the year so far, Mission: Impossible III.

Let’s not waste any time. J.J. Abrams, you, are the next Steven Spielberg. What more can I say? Tom Cruise? Love him or hate him, he is the single biggest movie star in the history of the world and finally, he’s found the perfect vehicle for his unique talents. Cruise and Abrams is a match made in heaven and Mission: Impossible III is the fruit of their blessed union.

Ten years ago, I made a conscious decision to start saving my ticket stubs. Beginning on May 10, 1996, the first movie I can prove I saw was Mission: Impossible. Actually, it was second after Twister, but for all intensive purposes of this story, it was first. Mission: Impossible is a good find on cable nowadays, but originally, I was pretty disappointed. It was flat-out confusing. My little 12 year-old mind couldn’t take it. So personally, I didn’t mind when John Woo turned the sequel into a spectacle of motorcycle stunts and fake plastic faces. M:I II was a bit of a guilty pleasure but it took the franchise in the wrong direction and I’m not surprised that I haven’t watched it in years. And after Fincher and Carnahan came and went, surely there was reason to be skeptical about this film.

But I’m telling you, it was worth the wait because Abrams does for this franchise what Christopher Nolan just did for Batman… and then some. To echo Harry and Mori’s sentiments, I love that the script by Abrams and the team of Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci focuses on Ethan’s personal life, and stresses that teamwork is the key to success. It allows Cruise moments to do his bad-ass thing as well as his overwhelmingly likable Jerry Maguire persona that Abrams does wonders with, seemingly well prepared by his Felicity days.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman is perfect as the slimy piece of shit named Owen Davian. Seeing him match wits with Cruise’s Hunt when both of them are at the top of their respective games is worth the admission price alone. As for the rest of the cast, Laurence Fishburne does his thing and Ving Rhames serves his comic purpose as the ever-loyal Luther Strickel. Rhames certainly stands out against the rest of the IMF team, which includes Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Maggie Q, who both do a great job of playing their parts, although the roles are inherently one-dimensional. We hardly learn anything about them besides the fact that he for one likes that his job won’t allow him to commit to a relationship.

And Maggie Q is lovely eye candy for sure but her lines only let her provide the occasional tidbit of information. At least they look good doing what they do. As for Simon Pegg, he steals the two scenes he’s in as Ethan Hunt’s very own Chloe O’Brien. It was also good to see people like Greg Grunberg, Sasha Alexander, Aaron Paul, and Undeclared’s Carla Gallo in ultra-small roles. Unfortunately, like the original’s villain, Billy Crudup is bland in an under-written role.

Mission: Impossible III has features some truly impressive stunt work. The action sequences are so suspenseful at times that I actually caught myself holding my breath during the skyscraper scene in Shanghai, which gave me vertigo watching Tom Cruise swing like Tarzan across the massive widescreen at NYC’s Ziegfield Theater. The bridge sequence is amazing, as are the windmills, the Vatican, the mask machine, and Michelle Monaghan’s body. My God, she’s like the new Sandra Bullock; Just a breath of fresh air. Same for Keri Russell, who plays a pupil of Ethan’s who was like a little sister to him, although she winds up looking like the jar that Jodie Foster finds in Silence of the Lambs.

As for Cruise, the man is a marvel, both physically and mentally. I can’t explain his recent behavior and I’m not going to try to, but in a few years, this will all be forgotten and TomKat will go back to being good old Tom, and his hair will start to gray and he will age gracefully. I suppose I’d be pretty giddy too if I knocked up Joey Potter but I’m convinced his antics are just a flash in the pan, a fluke, a fraud. Only time will tell, but maybe family life will get the better of him and he’ll disappear for a few years. After this baby, I’m not sure the studio bosses will let him take a vacation.

Kurtzman and Orci, Hollywood’s golden boys of the moment, have finally gone the whole way and written a movie that is thoroughly entertaining from start to finish, unlike The Island which was 2/3 of a good movie. Here, Ethan Hunt finally becomes a person, a human being, and not just a spy who like to go rock climbing. That was what passed for character development in Woo’s film. Hunt makes some tough decisions over the course of the movie. For the first time he seems truly challenged, and that alone is something to chew on during the movie. We’re never quite sure what’s going to happen, especially when brain bombs are involved. And before I wrap this up, I would like to give props to Michael Giacchino’s epic score, and Lalo Schifrin as well, but Kanye, sorry brotha, no love for you here. The song over the end credits makes you want to leave the theater even faster so you can talk about how great the movie was.

Mission: Impossible III is definitely the most entertaining film of the year. How long it will hold that title is something only Wolfgang Petersen, Ron Howard, and Brett Ratner, may know. The only sure bet is that May is going to give Ethan Hunt some stiff competition. For some reason, I have a feeling he’s not too worried about it. For now, Mission: Impossible 3 is the film to beat. Those other directors had better have something bigger and badder than Owen Davian up their sleeves. Anything less is going down. A year ago I never thought I’d say this but thank you Tom Cruise. And ten years ago when I first started collecting stubs, I never thought I’d say this for obvious reasons, but thank you J.J. Abrams. Felicity, Alias, Lost and now this? We should consider ourselves lucky.

That’ll do it for me, folks. Keep checking back for Tribeca updates and a peek at this week’s limited released, The Proposition and Down in the Valley.

‘Til next time, this is MiraJeff signing off…

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