Speaking of cinematic spies, I finally caught up with M:I:III (or, as Stephen Colbert calls it, "Mehhh") on DVD.
Now, I really liked the first entry in the Mission: Impossible film series, and thought that it was a surprisingly smart and relatively adult adventure film, well-directed by Brian DePalma. I still feel that way, especially as it's one of the few Tom Cruise films that actually enables me to overcome my inherent aversion to Mister Teeth and actually have a good time with it. I wish that Peter Graves had agreed to play Jim Phelps in it, though.
I was really looking forward to #2, especially when John Woo was attached to direct (I'd been a Woo fan since The Killer first hit VHS), but unfortunately, I found Mission: Impossible 2 disappointing. The clever, twisty plot of the first film was replaced with a simple chase after a generic McGuffin, and padded out with a lot of flashing teeth and slo-mo action scenes. It's nicely shot, but really, I can never remember anything about the story after it's done.
So, when M:I:III hit theaters early this Summer, I was conflicted. Early reviews were generally positive, but the box office wasn't very strong and Mr. Lookatme Cruise was just plain annoying in promoting the film. And, while I enjoy Lost, I'd never seen Alias, and had no real expectations for first-time feature director J.J. Abrams. So, money being tight, I passed on seeing it in the theaters.
But I picked up the DVD last week, and I was pleasantly surprised with the film. A good story, great stunts, strong villian and a surprisingly likeable Cruise added up to a pretty nifty spy movie with a tiny bit more emotional punch than either of the previous entries. Sure, there's a lot of chasing around after a silly McGuffin in this one, too, but Abrams and the screenwriters know it, and are canny enough not to dwell too much on the ambiguous "Rabbit's Foot," treating it much as Hitchcock intended when he invented the term, focusing on on the characters and their actions in obtaining it, instead. I also liked the return – if somewhat halfheartedly – to the "team" concept of the TV show. Sure, it's still all about Cruise's Ethan Hunt in these movies, but at least in this one (unlike #2), there's a bit of lip service paid to the original Bruce Geller IMF team concept.
And, frankly, team member Maggie Q is particularly pleasant eye candy.
I deliberately picked up the bare-bones DVD (I may collect the series, but there's only so much behind-the-scenes Cruise I'm willing to subject myself to) – the widescreen transfer is crisp and beautiful to behold, and the soundtrack is suitably explosive.
For what it's worth, I liked it. If you haven't checked it out, you might want to give it a try.