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Mission: Impossible III

A Mission Worth Accepting

It must be summer. After months of tepid low-grade slasher flicks, Hollywood studios have now started rolling out the action movies. And what would the season be without a high-budget, über-hyped, adrenaline-powered, celebrity-fronted blockbuster to kick it all off? To that extent, the masses have been delivered Mission: Impossible III.

Tom "Crazy Eyes" Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt, a former agent in the IMF (aka the Impossible Mission Force, a deeply undercover arm of an unnamed intelligence agency in the U.S. government) who now trains recruits instead of working in the field. He is settled into a cozy Volvo station wagon-driving suburban lifestyle with his fiancée Julia (played by the poor man's Liv Tyler, Michelle Monaghan), who seems to be a thinly veiled substitute for his real-life love Katie Holmes.

As you learn through flashback, as the film opens in the present and recounts past events leading up to it, on the night of his engagement Ethan is called forth on a mission to rescue a former trainee (Keri Russell) who is being held hostage by international arms dealer Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman). He reluctantly accepts the mission and is joined by his new team: Declan (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), Zhen (the lovely Maggie Q) and Ving Rhames who returns as Luther Stickell. Of course, they soon find themselves embroiled in a much larger crisis that involves a diabolical weapon obscurely referred to as the Rabbit's Foot.

Cruise's dramatic talents shouldn't even be called "acting" as he behaves and looks the same as he does in both reality and every one of his films. Be it an off kilter interview on "Oprah" or the lead role in one of his various Hollywood vehicles, Tom Cruise is no one other than Tom Cruise. Staring really intently and adding in an eye twitch for dramatic effect does not count as actual acting (please refer to the "crazy eyes" comment above). Hoffman, on the other hand, takes villainy to an all new level. Think Gary Oldman's character in The Professional but with a lot more contemptuousness and a lot less crazy. He is a bad guy you can't help but hate. Simon Pegg (of Shaun of the Dead fame) as the earnest and wide-eyed computer specialist Benji is a scene stealer as is, but to a lesser extant, Lawrence Fishburne playing department head and overall hard ass Brassel.

Mission: Impossible III, directed by J.J. Abrams (the creator of "Alias", "Lost" and "Felicity", which explains Keri Russell's random casting in this film), is surprisingly entertaining. It is action-packed and races at a breakneck pace for its entire 126-minute runtime. The opening sequence kicks off the movie with a bang, so to speak, and is incredibly intense and some might also argue, violent. But, hey, this isn't a children's cartoon, it's an action movie. And a damn good one too.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars