"Suspend your disbelief" I kept telling myself. After all, this is supposed to be just 126 minutes of summer fun, and after all we can't expect serious drama from Tom Cruise. This has to be a action and special effects flick with lots of Cruise's smiling mug splashed through the movie, for sure.
And you have to realize that this movie was supposed to come out two years ago this month. It has gone into the rewrite shop for a not so few small repairs several times (at Cruise's insistence), and then finally J.J. Abrams of 'Lost' and 'Alias' fame who has never directed a big screen movie was brought in and he insisted on a new script! The amount of money wasted on all this vanity is hard to fathom or justify. But you have to give them credit--- this movie is definitely different from MI I or II, and it does have some great action scenes (helicopter chase through wind turbines in Germany-- wait 'til the environmentalists get wind of this one; big blow up on and off the bridge to Maryland; and Cruise becomes human pendulum leaping tall buildings in a single bound).
But alas, the goal of this movie is to humanize Mr. Ethan Hunt, by giving him not just a love interest, but a wife (played well, though she gets too little air time, by Michelle Monaghan). And herein lies the problem. There is no back story about this relationship, and it is not allowed to develop at the beginning of the film. We must hurry up with saving the world for democracy and from the uber-bad guy-- played wonderfully by Phillip Seymour Hoffmann of Capote fame. We now know he can play incredibly different roles very well, but can he dance?
Of course the premise of the movie is "the things we'll do for love", including selling out truth, justice, and the U.S. of A. But of course Mr. Hunt manages to find a way to be both a hero, and a rescuer of the damsel in distress. It requires lots of running, blowing things up, and killing folks.
What is especially distressing about all this is that even though Cruise has a good MI team to support him, including Ving Rhames, they hardly get enough air time to appreciate them. We simply go from one set piece to another, to another, to another where the whole focus is on Cruise, ratcheting up the noise and action and violence. Some of this is effective, for example the sequence in the Vatican, some is not. Why exactly must we race from Berlin to Rome to Shanghai with the aid of Mapquest? We never find out, and one suspects this is just a matter of taking a page out of the old James Bond recipe of filming in exotic locations.
But what is entirely missing is the old Mission Impossible premise that gadgets, and technology can help us solve crime. What is missing is any finesse and attempt to fool the bad guys-- no we just want to out muscle them and beat them to the punch and to a pulp in this movie. Furthermore, in MI III the best gadgets are in the hands of the bad guys, and it is hard to imagine them ever having a postive or life saving use. Alas what would Martin Landau say?
Here is a movie with few redeeming features, an eminently forgetable plot, but it is fun to watch as it passes by on the screen with impressive special effects. Here is 'Tom' on Cruise control-- don't expect any Oscar nominations for this film. But if you want to be dazzled by action, this may provide a Jolt of adrenaline rush for you.