Mission: Impossible 3 J.J. Abrams

The phenom that is Tom Cruise is, without a doubt, what will make or break the latest instalment of Mission Impossible. Really, it’s the first test for audiences to determine if the recently overexposed (and, possibly, over-insane) celebrity can withstand the concentrated publicity (the good and the horrible) of the last year and not be tainted when it comes to doing his job.

For myself, a true believer that Cruise has completely lost the plot in the real world, the great escape that cinema can provide has the potential to save just about any actor; luckily, in M:I:3, Mr. Katie Holmes is still the good old Maverick we’ve always loved, even if Goose is still dead. Of course, the movie is only an extension of what we’ve come to expect from the M:I franchise: tons of explosive action, international espionage, identity duping and cool gadgetry. However, there is some character development this time around, which helps push this beyond the same old formula.

Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is now in a committed relationship, a tricky situation for an IMF spy, but by posing as a traffic control engineer he smoothly convinces wife Julia (Michelle Monaghan) that everything is normal. That is until the mission is assigned — one that Hunt cannot refuse. This opens of a big can of worms for the potential retiree and he gets sucked into a game of cat and mouse involving super-villain Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and, unsurprisingly, some of his superiors from the organisation.

The action is superb; less in your face that John Woo’s previous Mission, Abrams has taken his skill for developing captivating television and brought it to the big screen with expert panache, blending big thrills with appropriate comedic timing. While Cruise and his support are reliable (again, Ving Rhames delivers the same juicy one-liners), unfortunately Hoffman isn’t effective as the nasty villain. Although his evil threats are genuine, for such a talented actor, who can normally adapt to any situation and pull out award-winning performances, his wickedness doesn’t translate to as malicious as the trailers would have us believe.

But, if you’ve enjoyed the franchise and its tumultuous ups and downs so far (especially behind the scenes), you should choose to accept Cruise and this instalment, as there is no denying that you’ll get a kick out of this most enjoyable Mission. (Paramount)