Mission Impossible 3: not quite there

Mission Impossible III opens. And the lack of buzz – a sleepy, near-empty cinema on a Thursday night – was indicative of the film itself: it falls far short of wonderful.

Mission Impossible 1 was pretty good, evoking Cold War style paranoia and subterfuge. MI2 was an utterly brilliant action film, a symphony of camerawork with all the actors meshing into natural roles, the preposterous made completely believable thanks to Tom’s acting (he is a good actor) and John Woo’s direction. And sadly, the second film puts the third in shadow.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with MI:3; it’s just a bit lazy. Basically the same plot as MI:2 with different buildings. The MI motifs, like lookalike facemasks and highwire acrobatics, aren’t celebrated; they’re just got out of the way in contrived plot sequences. And the idea of Ethan Hunt having a normal home life with a nice down-home girl just doesn’t ring true. (In real life, he’d be bored with her in moments.)

But the biggest thing about MI:3 – it just doesn’t mesh. The scenes don’t connect coherently; there’s a bad sense of timing; there’s no poetry in the action sequences, the orchestra just isn’t singing together. Nothing about this film really marks it out from any of a thousand cheapo chop-sockies out of Hongkong or Mumbai. And that’s the real problem. For £200m you’re supposed to do a lot better than this.

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