Review for Mission Impossible III
Life is going good for Ethan Hunt. He’s retired from front line service, and spends his time training the new generation of IMF agents. He’s engaged to be married to Julia, although he hasn’t yet got around to telling her that he doesn’t work in traffic management. It’s when they’re celebrating their engagement that he gets a phone call and a mission to choose to accept. It’s hard to decline when one of his most promising trainees has been taken hostage by a ruthless arms dealer named Owen Davian. It’s even harder to stay out of the field when the mission ends badly, and it transpires that Davian is about to make a deal for a weapon that could shift the balance of power. But Davian isn’t the kind of man to trifle with. He tends to make things personal...
Mission Impossible 3 gets a 2.35:1 widescreen 1080p transfer. It’s a fair transfer, nice, clean and stable, and appears filmic throughout. There’s a bit of black crush, while with this being J.J. Abrams first theatrical feature, you can be assured of some lens flare. There is a degree of compression, most apparent in a scene set in the Vatican, mosquito noise around the fine detail of a set of stone steps in the distance. Mission Impossible 3 looks pretty good for a globe-trotting spy flick though.
Once again, things stay firmly in the DVD age when it comes to the audio. We have Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround English, French, and German, with subtitles in these languages as well. It’s a surround track that does the business, immersing you in the film’s many action sequences. The balance between dialogue and action finds the modern tipping point where you have to ride the remote control through the movie, but after MI2’s rawkfest, the music finds a more subtle presentation, a little more authentic to the original TV series.
Mission Impossible 3 was a 2-disc release in the wild, but in the captivity of the 5-film collection, we get just the feature disc alone. The sole extra presented by the animated menu is the audio commentary, featuring Tom Cruise and J.J. Abrams, and it’s a decent enough commentary, easy to listen to.
After the outdated style over hardly any substance that was Mission Impossible 2, Mission Impossible 3 is a return to solid, engaging, and intelligent storytelling, while Abrams first feature is flashy, well-paced, and deftly edited, without being stylistically obnoxious. It’s a fun and entertaining ride, hitting the right Mission Impossible beats, the self-destructing orders, the disguises, and the wheels within wheels of the plot. There are also a couple of nice and subversive call-backs to the earlier movies, which add a sense of continuity to a franchise where the films and the style of the films are more stand-alone.
There’s a sense of True Lies to Mission Impossible 3, with Ethan Hunt looking forward to domestic bliss with Julia, a nurse who has no idea of his secret life. With him having left fieldwork behind, that seems to be an achievable goal. This film is more cohesive than True Lies though, without the saggy middle that film had, but it also means that it plays things more seriously for the most part. There are no mistaken identity antics to play around with here.
This film does benefit from a truly memorable and chilling screen villain though. Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of Owen Davian is really unnerving. He’s completely ruthless and without remorse, yet has the understated charisma of sociopathy. Given the opening scene of the film, and when it is revisited later on, you really can’t predict what Davian will do, what lengths he will go to, and that makes Mission Impossible 3 probably the most edge of the seat experience of the three movies to this point. If there is a weakness to the film, it could have benefited from more screen time for Davian, and perhaps a more memorable exit.
Just like the first two films, the Blu-ray presentation for Mission Impossible 3 is adequate; a watchable disc with decent video quality, and making the best of the lossy audio tracks. Thankfully the subsequent discs fully embrace the Blu-ray format.