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Mission: Impossible III(2006)
Lured back into action by his agency superiors, Ethan Hunt faces his deadliest adversary yet - a sadistic weapons dealer named Owen Davian. With the support of his IMF team, Ethan leaps into spectacular adventure from Rome to Hanghai as he races to rescue a captured agent and stop Davian from eliminating his next target: Ethan's wife, Julia.
For more about Mission: Impossible III and the Mission: Impossible III Blu-ray release, see Mission: Impossible III Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on March 18, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames, Billy Crudup, Michelle Monaghan, Simon Pegg
Director: J.J. Abrams
» See full cast & crew
Mission: Impossible III Blu-ray Review
This third 'Impossible' film makes for great entertainment.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, March 18, 2009
What I'm selling and who I'm selling to is the last thing you should be concerned about.
In the case of the Mission: Impossible films, throw the old adage that says "the third time's the charm" straight out the window. The first two films got their respective formulas right from the get-go, with the first Mission: Impossible offering a breathtaking cat-and-mouse espionage thriller. The film offered not only a smart thinking-man's plot, but also just the right amount of action to punctuate and compliment the complexities of the story. Along with standout acting and classy, mesmerizing direction from Brian De Palma (The Untouchables), the film is an unequivocal success. Its predecessor took a different approach, turning the lead character into an action hero, amping up the excitement and minimizing the intrigue. What else would one expect from a film directed by John Woo (Broken Arrow)? Both formulas work particularly well, so the question that overrides all others when it comes time to view Mission: Impossible III is, "which Ethan Hunt will show up to save the day this time?"
In Mission: Impossible III, IMF agent Ethan Hunt is tasked with his most personal mission yet. Retired form the field, Hunt has settled down and is set to marry a nurse named Julia (Michelle Monaghan, Made of Honor). At a party, Hunt receives word that his protégé, agent Lindsey Farris (Keri Russell, August Rush), has been kidnapped while on a dangerous mission tracking the notorious criminal Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote). Hunt's mission, should he choose to accept it, is to rescue Farris in hopes of learning more about Davian. When Farris dies during the rescue attempt, Hunt chooses to further the pursuit of Davian when he learns of the existence of an item known only as "The Rabbit's Foot," a potentially deadly weapon Davian is set to sell on the black market. Tracking the criminal and the weapon will lead Hunt around the world as he attempts to keep his personal affairs out of what may be his most dangerous assignment ever.
Tackling an installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise and juggling the vastly different tones and styles of the first two films cannot be an easy task. Fortunately, Mission: Impossible III wisely chooses to take the very best elements of each of its predecessors to make a film that is a hybrid of styles and borders on being the best of the trilogy. Under the care of one of Hollywood's hottest directorial commodities, J.J. Abrams (2009's Star Trek), M:I III finds what is nearly the perfect middle ground between the visions of Directors De Palma and Woo, the film alive with the intrigue and danger of the first but also seeing several electrifying, memorable, and wonderfully-staged action sequences similar to those that define the second. M:I III isn't quite as deep and dark as the first film; its plot is a bit more user-friendly and easily understood upon first viewing, but it doesn't become of secondary importance as it was in Woo's vision of the series. Likewise, M:I III enjoys several explosive action sequences. They're more grounded in reality here than the violence-as-art and nearly impossible stunts of the second, but nevertheless harrowing and a pleasure to behold. Gone is the long-haired, shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later Ethan Hunt, but he still retains a rough edge that allows the character to return to the roots from the first film while not forgetting his exploits and abilities as demonstrated in the second. The film's strong plot and imposing villain allow for Hunt -- and the film -- to settle into a middle ground that hits the sweet spot between intelligent Thriller and breathtaking Action and Adventure.
J.J. Abrams sets a rather unsettling tone from the get-go, beginning the movie with a scene form the third act that shows exactly where the film is headed. It instantly develops the film's villain and sets the tone for the movie. This doesn't hinder the first two acts in the least -- despite the foreknowledge of what is to come, M: I III doesn't lose its edge and few scenes are wasted as the movie throttles towards the final act. There is one element that makes the movie work above all others -- above even the direction, the story, and the action -- and that is the uncanny and chilling performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman as the film's villain. Though not an imposing figure from a physical perspective, Hoffman sells the character thanks to his ability to demonstrate a cold, stoic demeanor that turns a normal enough man into a frightening villain who is always ready to do whatever it takes -- no matter how dastardly or disgusting -- to get his way. It's one of the more unheralded performances of the decade and another in a growing list of roles greatly enhanced by one of today's finest actors. M:I III also enjoys another fine effort from leading man Tom Cruise who himself embraces the film's vision of a middle ground between the tones of the first two films. The film also sees the return of series veteran Ving Rhames (Day of the Dead), once again delivering a solid performance in a supporting role.
Mission: Impossible III Blu-ray, Video Quality
Mission: Impossible III arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p, MPEG-2 encoded transfer framed in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This is easily the best looking Blu-ray of the Mission: Impossible trilogy. Colors are a bit warm; much of the image seems to have a slightly golden and red tint, and flesh tones tend to look somewhat rosy. However, it's a very good image overall, with rather strong detail and levels of clarity in most every object seen on-screen, from faces to background materials. The image occasionally has a slightly soft look to it, but the majority is sharp and well defined. Black levels are good throughout. The print is free of any discernible blemishes, and a subtle layer of film grain lends a bit of theatrical flair to the image. Overall, M:I III boasts a rather strong, but not quite reference-grade, transfer.
Mission: Impossible III Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Mission: Impossible III explodes onto Blu-ray with a solid if not slightly underwhelming Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. A recent summer blockbuster and an Action extravaganza yearning for a lossless soundtrack, M:I III is a missed opportunity to showcase the potential of lossless audio and perhaps even serve as reference-grade track. Instead, the lossy Dolby Digital mix is sufficient and exciting in all the right spots, but lacks that last bit of oomph and clarity to take it over the top. The action sequences fill the soundstage with plenty of ear-splitting moments, punctuated by a plethora of gunfire during the Farris rescue sequence. Several explosions throughout the film offer up a sufficient level of bass, notably those as heard during the bridge attack sequence. Surround speakers are often put to good use; an opened cargo bay door on a plane in-flight in chapter ten engulfs the listener with blowing wind and shaking objects as the powerful wind bursts through the listening area. Dialogue is delivered crisply and evenly, never presenting volume or discernment issues.
Mission: Impossible III Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Mission: Impossible III comes to Blu-ray as a jam-packed two-disc special edition. The only extra on the first disc is a feature-length commentary track with Director J.J. Abrams and Actor Tom Cruise. The track is lively, engaging, and jovial, with the pair sometimes speaking over one another, sharing anecdotes from the set, telling jokes, discussing editing techniques, speaking of the performances and professionalism of the actors, and more. Disc two contains the entirety of the visually-based supplements, beginning with The Making of the Mission (1080p, 28:42). This is a moderately-interesting making-of piece that begins with a discussion about Abrams' involvement and talent and moving on to looking at the making of various sequences, closely examining sets, locations, stunts, and action sequences, highlighted by plenty of interviews with cast and crew and behind-the-scenes footage. Inside the IMF (480p, 21:15) focuses on the assemblage and camaraderie of the talent involved in the making of the film, highlighting the strengths that each brings to their respective roles, with plenty of obligatory back-patting amongst the interviewees.
Mission Action: Inside the Action Unit (1080p, 25:39) is another piece that goes behind-the-scenes, this one focusing primarily on the work involved in making the most intense action sequences possible. Visualizing the Mission (1080p, 10:40) is a piece that looks at the importance of computerized pre-visualization sequences in developing the film's action sequences. Mission: Metamorphosis (1080p, 8:09) takes a look at both the construction of the famed masks from the Mission: Impossible franchise and their place in the series. Scoring the Mission (1080p, 4:59) takes viewers into the world of writing the music for a major motion picture. Moviefone Unscripted: Tom Cruise / J.J. Abrams (480p, 8:03) features the duo answering a series of questions from fans and from one another. Launching the Mission (480p, 14:04) looks at the film's premiere in five world locations -- Manhattan, Rome, Paris, London, and Japan. Next up are a series of five deleted scenes (480p, 5:21), followed by Excellence in Film (480p, 9:15), the Tom Cruise tribute piece found on all three Mission: Impossible Blu-ray discs. Concluding this set of extras is a collection of four trailers (1080p, 5:23), six TV spots (480p, 3:14), and a photo gallery.
Mission: Impossible III Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Mission: Impossible III is an exciting summer blockbuster that, under the wrong leadership, may have been a complete disaster. It's a perilous exercise to follow up on two films from the same franchise with such drastically differing tones, but Director J.J. Abrams takes the film in just the right direction, finding a sweet spot that showcases the best attributes of the first two films and combining them into a stylish, well-paced, smart, and explosive popcorn movie that is elevated further thanks to the mesmerizing performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman as the film's villain. M:I III doesn't quite top the original, but it comes close, and is a fine way to solidify the trio of films as one of the better trilogies in recent years. Paramount's Blu-ray release of this film is somewhat disappointing. It offers a solid MPEG-2 encoded 1080p transfer but only a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, and considering the film's recent vintage and action-oriented nature, the lack of a lossless option is disheartening. Fortunately, the disc does offer a wide array of bonus material spread over two discs. While the absence of a superior audio track is a major oversight, the disc nevertheless earns a recommendation based on the quality of the visuals, the supplements, and most importantly, the film.
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