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J.J. Abrams
Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames, Billy Crudup, Michelle Monaghan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell, Maggie Q, Simon Pegg, Eddie Marsan, Laurence Fishburne
Writing Credits:
Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, J.J. Abrams, Bruce Geller (television series)

Retired from active duty, former spy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) now spends his time training IMF agents. But when a lunatic arms dealer named Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman) threatens the life of his protégé, Lindsay (Keri Russell), the superspy gathers his crew — old buddy Luther Strickell (Ving Rhames), transportation ace Declan (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and underground operative Zhen (Maggie Q) — to bring her back to safety. Doing so, however, causes Davian to go after Hunt's wife-to-be, Julia (Michelle Monaghan).

Box Office:
$150 million.
Opening Weekend
$47.743 million on 4054 screens.
Domestic Gross
$133.382 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 125 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 10/30/2006

Disc One
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director JJ Abrams and Producer/Actor Tom Cruise
• Deleted Scenes
• “Tribute Montage: Excellence In Film”
• “The Making of the Mission”
Disc Two
• “Inside the IMF” Featurette
• “Mission Action: Inside the Action Unit” Featurette
• “Visualizing the Mission” Featurette
• “Mission: Metamorphosis” Featurette
• “Scoring the Mission” Featurette
• Moviefone Unscripted: Tom Cruise/JJ Abrams
• “Launching the Mission” Featurette
• Trailers
• TV Spots
• Photo Gallery
• “Generation: Cruise” Featurette


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Mission: Impossible III - Special Collector's Edition (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 16, 2006)

As Tom Cruise quickly enters Wacko Jacko territory and becomes better known as a weird celebrity than as a performer, we see how this affects box office receipts. Cruise’s nuttiness didn’t seem to have a substantial impact on 2005’s War of the Worlds, though it becomes tough to gauge whether the actor’s behavior did lower receipts. Worlds snagged a tidy $234 million, but perhaps it would have made even more without Cruise’s various controversies.

With 2006’s Mission: Impossible: III, it became more likely that the increasing public perception of Cruise as a weirdo negatively impacted the film’s profits. Despite very positive reviews, Mission 3 only took in $133 million at the box office. I recognize that “only” is a relative phrase, as plenty of movies would kill for that kind of take. However, given the film’s pedigree, budget and expectations, $133 million clearly turned into a disappointment.

All of that’s too bad, for M:i:III unquestionably offered the best of the three flicks. The film starts with a scary scene in which Impossible Mission Force (IMF) agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) begs Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman) not to kill a babe named Julia (Michelle Monaghan). Right in the middle of a very tense moment, the flick cuts and heads back into the past. We find out that Ethan and Julia are engaged, but she doesn’t know about his real job. He claims to work for the Department of Transportation and hides his secret agent life.

Actually, the active hero of the first two movies has become more of a desk jockey, as Ethan now primarily trains new recruits. His superior John Musgrave (Billy Crudup) lures him back into the field when Davian captures Ethan’s star pupil Lindsey Farris (Keri Russell). Ethan takes a team that includes old partner Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) with younger agents Zhen Lei (Maggie Q) and Declan Gormley (Jonathan Rhys Meyers).

Although the group manages to extract Lindsey, she dies when they can’t disable a little explosive device in her head. This sets Ethan on a mission of revenge to get back at Davian for what he did to Lindsey. We watch the team track Davian to Vatican City and find out that the baddie pursues a secret device known as the “Rabbit’s Foot”. The rest of the movie follows Ethan’s pursuit of Davian and the “Rabbit’s Foot” as the story progresses toward and beyond the perilous scene that launches the flick.

How many times does a series’ third entry prove to be its best? Rarely, if ever. One could argue that Goldfinger remains the top Bond flick, and if we view Revenge of the Sith as the third of the Star Wars prequels – and not the sixth in that series – then it would stand as the top effort. Otherwise, I find it tough to conjure any third films that better their predecessors – and followers, when relevant.

As I indicated at the start of my review, I definitely see M:i:III as the best of its series, and there’s a lot of distance between it and the other two. I liked the first movie and M:I:2 to a reasonable degree, but I think both suffer from significant flaws. The original film just never really soars, while the first sequel simply takes way too long to go anywhere.

Mission 3 doesn’t suffer from either of those problems. Instead, it grabs us from minute one and never loosens its grip on us. When I saw the flick theatrically, I’d indulged in too much pre-flick Diet Coke and needed to whiz before too long. I waited for a moment that felt like it’d give me the respite needed to zip to the restroom and not miss too much, but that time never came. I finally gave in and went anyway, but the film doesn’t provide long stretches of bathroom breaks.

Indeed, any slightly slow spots can be measured in seconds, not minutes. Without question, M:i:III offers a relentless film. It doesn’t pound us with mind-numbing action, but it maintains a brisk and thrilling pace that makes every moment count. Though this easily could have become too much and have worn down the audience before the movie's climax, the flick manages to ease off the pedal just enough along the way to allow us to breathe. We don’t get deep breaths, but at least we don’t feel like the movie batters us.

It really does create a heck of a thrill ride, though. M:i:III manages to offer plenty of neat twists on the usual action sequences and it constantly surprises us. Just when we think the story will go one way, it twists in a different direction. Although the action never proves especially revelatory or innovative, it plays with conventions just enough to feel fresh.

The early killing of Lindsey helps keep us off-guard as well. When we see a sweet presence like Russell on the screen, we assume she’ll escape unharmed. Her death tells us that all bets are off and we can’t count on the usual assumptions. Though all of our movie-going instincts tell us that Ethan and Julia will eventually ride off into the sunset, the demise of Lindsey ensures we won’t ever feel too comfortable with our convictions.

The first flick in the series created after 9/11, M:i:III makes nods in the direction of the post-2001 world but doesn’t dwell on them. I like that fact. It would have been easy for the filmmakers to provoke cheap sentiment and emotion with 9/11 evocations, but it never heads down that path. The movie glances in that direction just enough to prove believable. A story of this sort with no indications of changes enacted in the last five years would be even less acceptable than one that dwells on that area. Mission 3 manages a nice balance.

A very strong cast bolsters the experience. Hoffman stands as the best of the bunch. Fresh off his Oscar-winning turn in Capote, Hoffman gets surprisingly little screen time. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the opening sequence appears mainly to make sure we don’t have to wait more than 45 minutes for his character’s introduction.

In any case, Hoffman clearly makes the most of his moments. Ala Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs, Hoffman takes a relatively small role and still manages to dominate the film. He never camps it up or views the role as beneath him. Though not exactly a physical presence – the actor is best described as “doughy” – Hoffman makes Davian cruel, intimidating and scary.

Frankly, I find it hard to think of anything that M:i:III does wrong. That doesn’t mean I view it as a perfect film, but it does signal that the flick maintains a consistently high level of quality. Heck, just like in the enjoyable War of the Worlds, I was able to ignore my feelings toward Cruise and accept him in the part. M:i:III provides a killer action experience with all the meat and little of the fat.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A/ Bonus B

Mission: Impossible: III appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though not without concerns, the transfer usually looked very good.

I thought sharpness appeared solid most of the time. Some light edge enhancement created a little softness in a few wide shots, but those weren’t terribly invasive. Most of the movie seemed concise and accurate. Jagged edges displayed no concerns, but shimmering interfered at times. This was especially noticeable during Vatican exteriors, and I saw moiré effects on a few other occasions as well. Print flaws created no problems, though, as the movie suffered from no signs of source defects.

Much of the time, M:i:III featured a fairly desaturated image. It preferred a somewhat blown-out look, with an emphasis on a chilly blue tint much of the time. Livelier colors still crept through at times, though, and the palette design came out well for the material. The DVD appeared to present the colors as intended, and they worked fine in that realm.

Black levels looked dark and dense, while shadow detail was appropriately opaque but not too thick. Low-light sequences were clear and distinct. Except for the minor softness and shimmering, the picture of M:i:III provided a pretty good representation of the original material.

When I examined the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Mission: Impossible: III, I found it to work very well. The soundfield presented an active and lively piece that almost constantly engaged the five main speakers. The film showed distinctive imagery throughout the movie that placed different auditory elements accurately within the spectrum and meshed them together nicely. Music provided strong stereo imaging, and effects popped up from the appropriate locations. Quieter scenes displayed natural ambience, while the many action pieces involved engrossing and vibrant imaging. It became tough to pick a favorite sequence, but the Bay Bridge attack probably remained my favorite due to the sheer impact of its chaos.

Audio quality also seemed positive. Speech consistently appeared natural and crisp, and I noticed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Music sounded bright and dynamic as the DVD neatly replicated the score. Effects packed a nice wallop when necessary, as these elements seemed clean and distinct at all times. Bass response came across as deep and tight, and the low-end added a good layer of depth and oomph to the package. I thought this was a consistently excellent soundtrack that earned a firm “A”.

For this two-disc “Collector’s Edition”, we find a mix of extras. We start with an audio commentary from writer/director JJ Abrams and producer/actor Tom Cruise. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They discuss the opening sequence, sets and locations, cast, characters and acting choices, story issues and cut scenes, visual effects, stunts and action bits, and general production topics.

Can you feel the love tonight? You will if you screen this commentary. Although some reasonably interesting notes emerge along the way, pure praise dominates this piece. Cruise and Abrams constantly talk about how much they love this or how good that is. I can tolerate a little of this, but the tendency toward happy talk is off the charts here. Granted, this trend declines a bit as the movie progresses, so matters improve as they go. Nonetheless, the ridiculous amount of praise makes this commentary less than satisfying.

The Making of the Mission goes for 28 minutes, 41 seconds as it presents movie clips, behind the scenes materials, and interviews. We hear from Abrams, Cruise, co-producer Arthur Anderson, co-screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, action unit director Vic Armstrong, costume designer Colleen Atwood, special effects supervisor Dan Sudick, special effects foreman Gintar Repecka, special effects – Italian unit Daniel Acon, art director – Italian unit Stefano Ortolani, visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett, production designer Scott Chambliss, visual effects producer Tom Peitzman, assistant stunt coordinator Joey Box, Spider Cam operator Todd “Hammer” Semmes, flight control/rigging Ben “Panda” Britten Smith, Chinese unit 1st AD Sylvia Liu Ching Yi, producer Paula Wagner, and actors Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Maggie Q, Keri Russell, Michelle Monaghan, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

We get some quick notes on how Abrams came onto the project, staging various stunts and practical effects pieces, location shoots and sets, costumes, visual effects, various camera techniques, and general thoughts on the flick. Don’t expect a terribly coherent view of the production from “Making”. It flits from subject to subject with abandon, so it doesn’t follow the flick in a very logical and smooth manner. However, it boasts enough good information and footage from the set to make it worthwhile. I especially like the view of how all the elements combine for the Bay Bridge sequence. I’d have preferred something a little clearer, but we get some good pieces here.

Five Deleted Scenes fill a total of five minutes, 33 seconds. These include “Ethan Fight At the Top of the Stairs” (0:50), “Zhen Fight In Computer Room” (0:39), “Musgrave Cemetery Conversation” (1:32), “Lindsey Graduates” (0:39) and “Vatican Entry Extended” (1:45). “Musgrave” offers an intriguing character twist, and “Graduates” presents a mildly interesting glimpse of Lindsey’s relationship with Ethan. The rest are forgettable.

Tribute Montage: Excellence in Film is a nine-minute and 13-second compilation of clips from Cruise movie’s created to precede his receipt of an award. This comes across as self-congratulatory on a DVD of this sort. It never proves especially interesting.

Disc One opens with a few ads. We get promos for Tranformers, World Trade Center, and Tom Cruise DVDs.

Heading to Disc Two, we focus mainly on a series of featurettes. These begin with Inside the IMF, a 21-minute and 14-second component. It includes notes from Cruise, Abrams, Maggie Q, Rhys-Meyers, Wagner, Kurtzman, Orci, Hoffman, Russell, Atwood, Monaghan and actors Laurence Fishburne, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg and Billy Crudup. The show looks at casting, story and characters. No real depth occurs here, as the program concentrates on minor tidbits and favors praise for all involved. It does little more than tell us the plot and make sure we applaud the actors. It rarely gives us much of value.

For the 25-minute and 38-second Mission Action: Inside the Action Unit, we hear from Abrams, Armstrong, Cruise, Wagner, Box, Russell, Kurtzman, Orci, utility stuntman Scott Armstrong, and stuntman Buster Reeves. As implied by the title, we learn about the creation of the movie’s action sequences. The program goes through various fights, stunts and other set pieces. There’s still too much praise to be found here, but at least we learn something along the way. We get a nice view of how they execute various challenges, and the copious amounts of behind the scenes footage helps make this a useful show despite all the happy talk.

Visualizing the Mission goes for 10 minutes, 39 seconds, and features Cruise, Abrams, Wagner, Guyett, Peitzman, Vic Armstrong, pre-visualization supervisor David Dozoretz, and 1st AD Tommy Gormley. We get info about computer-generated pre-vis techniques and their use in the film. This is a fun and informative featurette, especially when we get to compare pre-vis shots to those in the final flick.

Next comes Mission: Metamorphosis. This eight-minute and nine-second piece offers remarks from Abrams, Cruise, Hoffman, Wagner, Guyett, visual futurist Syd Mead, ILM digital composers David Hisanaga and Tia Marshall, and prop master Steven B. Melton. This program investigates the design and execution of the movie’s mask-making machine. We learn what the filmmakers wanted to deliver with that item and how it was created. We get nice notes about this side of the flick during this fine piece.

We take a look at the movie’s music during Scoring the Mission. It fills four minutes, 59 seconds with comments from Cruise, Abrams, and composer Michael Giacchino. We find a few remarks about some specific cues, and Giacchino lets us know how he chose where to use the famous theme. There’s not much meat here, though, as the featurette is too brief to really dig into the material.

To get a chat between the film’s main creative partners, we head to the eight-minute and three-second Moviefone Unscripted: Tom Cruise/JJ Abrams. They interview each other and ask questions submitted by viewers. The pair discuss why Abrams decided to work on the project and comparisons to his TV material, the movie’s stunts, their working relationship, and other impressions of the film. Ala the commentary, this program ends up as fluffy and not very informative. Expect lots of praise and too little concrete material.

For the final featurette, we get Launching the Mission. This offers five segments that let us see five different locations for movie premieres. In total, they run 14 minutes, three seconds. We visit New York, Rome, Paris, London and Japan. All of this feels self-aggrandizing and not very interesting.

A few other elements fill out the disc. We find four Trailers and six TV Spots. A Photo Gallery features 98 shots, most of which seem forgettable. Finally, we get a three-minute and 32-second montage called Generation: Cruise. It presents shots from the actor’s flicks. It doesn’t offer a very interesting component. (Note that both “Generation” and “Excellence in Film” already appeared on the Mission: Impossible special edition DVD.)

For Mission: Impossible: III, the third time is the charm. Both of the first two movies were good, but this one takes things to another level and proves more satisfying in almost every possible way. The DVD offers consistently positive picture and audio along with some erratic but generally informative extras. I definitely recommend this high-octane action flick.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.9032 Stars Number of Votes: 31
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main