“… it has Phillip Seymour Hoffman, so that’s really all you need.”
I did it. I finally did it. I found the diamond in the rough. I made it to Mission: Impossible 3, the first Mission: Impossible movie that I have absolutely no problem with. Mission: Impossible 3 is the third instalment in the franchise and is directed by J.J. Abrams. Now neither of those things seem particularly impressive, but despite that Mission: Impossible 3 was the best Mission: Impossible movie at the time.
The main thing I love about Mission: Impossible 3 is that it sets up most of what we love about the franchise today. The first movie kept in touch with its spy-thriller roots, the second movie over-corrected and made a campy action movie, but Mission: Impossible 3 strikes a nice balance between the two. Mission: Impossible 3 is unbelievably dark. If you’re wondering what the movie is going to be like just watch the opening scene to get the picture. Right off the bat Abrams wanted to make sure that we understood this wasn’t another cute John Woo film. This time there would be consequences. And this thread continues through the entire movie, namely with the presence of the villain played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Phillip Seymour Hoffman (PSH) has got to be one of the greatest actors to have ever worked in Hollywood. His presence is always felt on screen, and Mission: Impossible 3 is no different. As the villain, PSH created a character who is the embodiment of terrifying. This man is almost like the Joker. He’s cold, emotionless, and is constantly in control. Not only do I think that PSH is the best villain in the Mission: Impossible franchise, but he might be one of my favourites ever.
But the movie isn’t completely serious, because it does a good job of sprinkling in moments of levity as well. There are moments that allow you to have some fun in the midst of the constant assault of intensity and horrific events that take place in this movie. These moments are seldom, but they do exist. For instance we get introduced to Simon Pegg’s character, Benji, who is pretty much a never-ending well of these moments of comic relief. You also get to experience the camaraderie of the team, particularly Ethan and Luther, as they have been working together for some time now.
I also felt that Mission: Impossible 3 is the most ‘fresh’ of the Mission: Impossible movies (of course at the time of its release). It took what was a kind of stilted franchise after the second installment and really breathed some life back into it by making it a lot more realistic and gritty, which was the trend of action movies at the time. And there is also a lot of trademarks of J.J. Abrams’ direction that shine through, namely the ‘shaky cam’ and the lens flares with washed-out colours, that were trendy at the time as well.
And the movie ended with a song by Kanye West. What more is there to love?
Overall Mission: Impossible 3 is the best movie we’ve had in the Mission: Impossible series so far (not counting 4 or 5 since I have yet to watch those). It takes the series in a more intense direction, while also setting up a lot of recurring elements that fans will grow to love over the years. And it has Phillip Seymour Hoffman, so that’s really all you need.
I give Mission: Impossible 3 an A