MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3 appeared just as the peculiar anti-Tom Cruise movement started to gather steam in Hollywood, a movement which culminated in Paramount? odd decision to terminate their long-standing association with the star in the light of his ?npredictable?behaviour. This unpredictable behaviour appears consist of being happily married, having a child, not taking drugs, not having a string of salacious affairs, not being gay, not getting involved in boozy punch-ups with the paparazzi. You can see how Paramount would be concerned. As far as I? concerned Tom Cruise can stand on chairs on as many chat shows as he likes to proclaim his love for his missus if it means he can carry on making big, powerful movies like MINORITY REPORT, THE LAST SAMURAI, COLLATERAL and WAR OF THE WORLDS, a handful of my favourite movies from the last five years. Add to that list MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3 and we?e looking at the boldest, most exciting Hollywood actor of his generation at the height of his powers. How weird is that?

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3 is an astonishing film. I missed out on the first two entries in the franchise (a mistake I plan to rectify as soon as possible) so I can? comment on how it stands up to its predecessors. But taken on its own merits this is the most pulsating, adrenalized, awesome action film of the year bar none. It? not so much MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, more a case of Moviemaking Impossible; you?l be asking yourself ?ow the Hell did they do that??again and again as astounding set piece follows astounding set piece and the bar is raised?r?mpossibly high for the next breed of action film-makers.

The reasons for this are right up there on the screen. Tom Cruise is a force of nature running right through the film, running, punching, leaping, a human ball of pure energy. Behind him is newbie director JJ Abrams (ALIAS, LOST) who brings his own sense of slick, techno-heavy storytelling to the film in his impressive big-screen debut. A script like this would have chilled the blood of even the most seasoned action director; Abrams takes it all in his stride and we?e treated to helicopter chases, daring night-time raids and rescues, gun battles, a rocket-powered convoy attack on Chesapeake Bridge, dizzing parachute jumps and any number of highly-improbable visual gimmicks. The gripping storyline sees Cruise as Ethan Hunt, a retired agent for the covert IMF (that? Impossible Mission Force, not the considerably-more prosaic International Monetary Fund, in case you were wondering) who is coaxed out of retirement when one of his trainees is captured during a mission by the boo-hiss baddy Owen Davian (Hoffman). The rescue mission takes a personal turn when Hunt? new wife Julia (Monaghan) becomes a victim of Davian? during a power-struggle possession for the magical Macguffin the Rabbit? Foot, a mysterious super-weapon which is either the Anti-God, the apocalypse in a glass phial or, as Simon Pegg? amusing IMF boffin Benjy puts it ?n exorbitantly-priced bunny appendage.?n

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3 just rattles along, barely pausing for breath. The script? as implausible as it? captivating but the whole thing is done with such zest and enthusiasm, and with a particularly breath-taking confidence by Abrams, that you can? help but be carried along by its energy, disregarding all the narrative improbabilities (such as the apparent ease with which IMF agents can jet back and forth between America and Shanghai in apparently a little less time than it would take to hail a taxi). The story? ultimately the usual concoction of conspiracies, double-crossings and coded micro-dots but it really doesn? put a foot wrong from the brave ?lash-forward?pre-credits sequence to the slightly-sickly ?ll big smiles?ending. Big brilliant stuff.

THE DISC: Available as a single-disc edition or a bonus value 2-disc set, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3 really highlights just what makes DVDs so great. The picture and sound are outstanding and whilst the two-disc set has a spare disc of small featurettes and bits and pieces, even the single disc boasts a cheery Cruise/Abrams commentary and a more than adequate 27-minute ?aking of the Mission?feature which glows with Abrams?passion for his project. A must-buy for Christmas, scifinders.


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