Mission: Impossible III (2006) - 2-Disc Collector's Edition

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Drama / Thriller
Paramount || PG13 - 125 minutes - $34.99 || October 30, 2006
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2006-10-22


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: J.J. Abrams
Writer(s): Bruce Geller (TV show), Alex Kurtzman (written by) & Roberto Orci (written by) & J.J. Abrams (written by)
Cast: Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames, Billy Crudup, Keri Russell, Laurence Fishburne, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Simon Pegg, Michelle Monaghan, Maggie Q


Theatrical Release Date: May 5, 2006


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:

    Disc 1:
  • Director & Actor Commentary
  • Tribute Montage: Excellence in Film
  • The Making of the Mission
  • Deleted Scenes


  • Disc 2:
  • Mission Action: Inside the Action Unit
  • Visualizing the Mission
  • Inside the IMF
  • Mission: Metamorphosis
  • Scoring the Mission
  • Launching the Mission
  • Moviefone Unscripted: Tom Cruise/JJ Abrams
  • Tribute Montage: Generation: Cruise
  • Theatrical Campaign Highlights
  • Photo Gallery


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

As a fan of the “Mission: Impossible” series, I’ve always been intrigued by the film franchise. De Palma brought forth a paranoid spy-thriller before John Woo swooped in and turned it on its ear with an all-out action (with white doves and all). Six years, one director (Narc director Joe Carnahan dropped out) and a couch jumping Cruise later (amongst other odd behavior), “Alias” and “Lost” creator J.J. Abrams takes on his first feature film in Mission: Impossible III (or M:i: III for short). I have seen nearly every episode of the series so other than certain elements of the original film, nothing really captured that feeling since M:i II was just an action junkies dream come true. And it’s nothing against action flicks, but the use of slow motion and other Woo staples made the film look like any other action-adventure. So it was with some anticipation when M:i III that perhaps this would be the one to balance things out.

When I first saw this third installment on the opening weekend, I thought co-writer/director Abrams did a good job combining action and mystery, but failed in terms of the actual style. However, I think what tainted my view more so than the average direction was Cruise himself who seemed to mug the screen more so than ever. In the six years since the last sequel, Tom Cruise has undergone some extreme changes. I have no problem if he’s happy in his life with a new love and child (hats off to him for making it work), but his off screen antics really skewed my view of him and I couldn’t help but think of that while watching this for a second time on DVD. I remember certain elements in II that were certainly over-the-top, but he never came across as obnoxious, not as much as he looks here.

Talking about the film itself, Mission: Impossible III is good entertainment that does have a glimmer of what the original series was like featuring the team more (and giving them more to do), as well as casting individuals who bring some weight to their characters. In particular, John Rhys Meyers has a certain suave-ness that carries over to any character he plays, including his last in Woody Allen’s Match Point.

So, my opinion on the third (and probably last) installment in the M:I franchise remains the same when I saw it in theaters. Here’s my original review for you to peruse if you want more detail on other elements:

ORIGINAL REVIEW
IMF Agent Ethan Hunt is back after a six-year absence, he has a new wife in tow and duties away from action: training future agents. One of these students, Lindsey Ferris (Russell; TVs "Felicity") has been captured in Germany while investigating evil mastermind, Owen Davian (Hoffman; Capote) who has been trading many nasty things to nasty people. What these are, what they're for... doesn't matter, just get the audience from one action scene to the next.

10 years after the original Mission: Impossible, a film that still is the closest in terms of style to the original TV series, and 6 years after John Woo turned it into an all-out action flick that merely had "Mission: Impossible" in its name, and now the third entry tries to blend the two worlds with a special emphasis on action and thrills. Was it a success? In part, yes. The action sequences (note, more than one major sequence) were well done. "Alias" and "Lost" creator JJ Abrams was brought in (after Narc director Joe Carnahan dropped out, along with some cast changes) to bring a new vision for Paramount's teetering franchise.

The cast, the best since the first one, is top notch in my book: Billy Crudup as John Musgrave, Hunt's handler; Maggie Q and Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Hunt's team members; Laurence Fishburne, the IMF chief director; and recent Oscar winner, Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the brutal, but undistinguishable bad guy as well as Ving Rhames as the only other holdover in the series as Luther Strickell. With a cast like this, and although I did enjoy it for what it was, I can't help but to be slightly disappointed with it all.

Tom Cruise's personal life has taken over his career that instead of promoting a film, like last summer's War of the Worlds or MI3, that he tends to turn off even those who like his work (and I am one of them). Though I find his antics annoying to the nth degree, it didn't come with me into the theater and while watching him on screen. Now, I can't overstate his performance as Cruise, well, cruises through these kinds of roles. He has three facial expressions: fear, anger and happiness, but all three works alright given this isn't a film that will (or should) be remembered for.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman follows in the footsteps of previous winners like Halle Berry and Charlize Theron appearing in blockbuster action films the next year, fortunately he isn't near the disaster that those two were. I can't say his baddie was anything special as I have no clue what the hell he really did. He's cruel and brutal for sure and I guess that's all we need. In terms of memorable spy villains of yesteryear however, he isn't exactly going to rank up there, but he gets the job done and probably got a nice payday to go along with it.

The biggest plus is that even though this is nowhere near the thriller of the original, it still has a somewhat subtenant story (much more than #2 for sure), action scenes that will shake the very foundation of your stomach, and spy toys one expects from a MI movie.

Mission: Impossible III solidifies its status as a mindless summer blockbuster franchise, so my dream of a movie that resembles the television show probably will never come to fruition. Taken as such, I can accept it for what it is now... and that is a fun action-er with a decent plot, loud action sequences and some good casting choices. But if this series were to continue, there better be some more memorable stunts because this soon will become too robotic even for my taste.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The Mission: Impossible III DVD release comes in a one and two disc release. The first disc on each is the same so you can figure for yourself whether it’s worth spending the extra $6-7 for that content.

* - Denotes featurette is presented in full frame, otherwise consider it to be in anamorphic widescreen.

DISC 1
Actor & Director Commentary - Star Tom Cruise and director JJ Abrams provide the entertainment for the evening, watching the movie and chatting it up about the making of the film. They don’t go into too much outside of the movie with mainly comments about where certain scene were shot going from one sound stage to another or casting certain actors, giving on-set stories and giving away secrets of how certain scenes were done. I had already watched the featurettes before moving on to this commentary so by that point I had enough of Cruise, but I must say that he was actually fun to listen to and you could tell he had a good time making the movie and working with Abrams.

*Tribute Montage: Excellence in Film (8:56) - This montage was shown for the 2005 Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award in which Tom Cruise was a recipient. It just shows snippets from Cruise’s various movies like Top Gun, Born on the Fourth of July, the two Mission: Impossible movies, A Few Good Men and many others. Serves more as a sad reminder of what Cruise used to be like...

The Making of the Mission (27:43) - More of an overview of filming MI3 with glimpses on stunts, the direction from Abrams and other little elements that would later be explained in more detail on other featurettes on disc two. But, if you’re someone who doesn’t care about those kind of things, this is a good primer on how the movie was made.

*Deleted Scenes (5:26) - In all there are five deleted scenes all of which, save for one, were excised for good reason. The one scene that I found most interesting was setting up a possible romance between Musgrave and Farris (although if you’ve seen the film, that might not be the case). I don’t know if more footage was left on the cutting room floor, but if this was the best they had, I’m glad it was left out.

DISC 2
Mission Action: Inside the Action Unit (25:34) - Detailed account on how the notable action sequences were set up and shot with constant praise for Cruise who did a majority of them. Gives glimpses on how dangerous some of the work could be, even under a controlled environment.

Visualizing the Mission (10:31) - More of a companion piece to “Mission Action”, this puts together how the visual effects were combined with real elements (like the signature Cruise slamming into the car or the helicopter coming out of a ball of flames). I think this could’ve been put together better utilizing more side by side comparisons of location filming with the effects, but it does provide some interesting footage to see how much work goes into filming the action scenes.

*Inside the IMF (21:10) - Count by count blow of the casting of each actor beginning with Cruise, followed by Philip Seymour Hoffman (who worked with Cruise on Magnolia) then Rhames, Meyers, Maggie Q, Crudup and Fishburne. They talk about each other, how great it was to be a part of the franchise and yada yada yada. This also explains why Abrams and Cruise wanted this M:I to feature the team more than the first two films. Featurette presented in full frame.

Mission: Metamorphosis (8:02) - Closer look on the introduction of the mask making machine, Abrams always wanted to show how the masks that were so much a staple on both the series and movies were made. He enlisted the help of a renowned artist to draw a design that was modified and made a reality using both mechanics and visual effects. Of the things Abrams and team brought aboard, this cool element’s presented in the film like a normal tool for the team.

Scoring the Mission (4:58) - I thought and hoped this would be the one featurette NOT to feature Tom Cruise, unfortunately we get yet more of him as he visits the orchestra as they prepare more musical cues mixed in with the famous MI theme. Even though this composer isn’t as well known as Danny Elfman or Hans Zimmer, I actually thought he did a good job and did not make the score overly powerful.

*Launching the Mission (14:00) - Ride along with Tom Cruise as he promotes MI3 around the world beginning with his stint in New York City on TRL before going to other premiers around town by boat, train and car. He and the crew also visit Rome, Paris, London and Japan.

*Moviefone Unscripted: Tom Cruise/JJ Abrams (7:55) - Cruise and Abrams take questions from viewers as well as ask each other things about the filming to how Abrams got the job. This is not entirely entertaining (compared to the one between McConaughey and Bradshaw for the Failure to Launch DVD), but harmless viewing.

*Tribute Montage: Generation: Cruise (3:30) - Why this wasn’t included under a “Tribute” submenu on disc 1, I don’t know, but this montage was featured on the 2005 MTV Movie Awards where Cruise received the first ever “MTV Generation Award”. It’s a lot like the Kubrick one only set to “hipper” music.

Rounding things out are some theatrical trailers and TV spots.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen, 2.35 aspect ratio, and looks as good as a modern film should be when transferred to DVD. Abrams light style with some extra color for flavor comes through nicely and even though the atmosphere isn’t all that original, for his first feature, he does a good job.

I was a little disappointed with the sound quality for Mission: Impossible III. It features the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix but during the action scenes, I had to turn up my surround sound to give that window shaking effect I like with my action flicks. Other levels like dialogue, general ambient noises and the score seemed fine, but this could and should have been much richer.



.::OVERALL::.

Mission: Impossible III is the typical mindless action-adventure one would expect from the series but it does have more heart than the second one and still is quite entertaining in spite of Cruise’s antics off camera. As far as the DVD goes, you’ll probably be more than satisfied with the 1-disc version as the featurettes on disc two aren’t entirely impressive (although if you like extras, then perhaps it is worth the extra few bucks). You can probably pick up the 1-disc edition for $14, maybe less after some time, so I do think it is worth at least that for the movie.