Ethan Hunt (Cruise), retired from active duty and recently engaged to the lovely Julia (Monaghan), returns to action when an IMF agent he trained is captured. but when Hunt’s attempts to snare evil arms dealer Owen Davian (Hoffman) that goes violently wrong, events spiral back toward the innocent Julia, who suffers under the illusion her fiancé works in transport.
Few actors have been sustained by a single ongoing franchise more than Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible movies. But the franchise got new life thanks to J.J. Abrams and the brilliant Philip Seymour Hoffman in Mission Impossible 3 (2006).
It was the movie that launched J.J.’s film career. A superpower TV producer with numerous hit shows under his belt. His MI: III is one of the tighter, plot-driven entries in the franchise and it is the first one to put more of an effort into developing Ethan Hunt as a character.
The plot involves some MacGuffin nonsense about a device called “The Rabbit’s Foot,” but it matters a lot less than Hunt’s newfound Achilles’ heel: his wife, Julia Meade (Michelle Monaghan), whose relevance to Hunt’s decision-making continues to reverberate through the series.
Philip Seymour Hoffman as arms dealer Owen Davian is still the best villain these movies have offered up. Davian is a cold-blooded mad man whose relentlessly calm demeanor brings an eerie realism to a role that could have called for a simple cardboard baddie; when Hunt dangles the character out of a plane in a vain attempt to make Davian talk, Hoffman’s dead-eyed stare into the howling wind gives the MI movies their most unforgettable image since that bead of sweat crept down Cruise’s brow.
Each MI film starts memorably, from Tom Cruise climbing a massive cliff face to escaping from prison to hanging onto an airplane wing. But the opening scene in MI 3 is probably the best because of its quickly escalating suspense and great acting.
The movie opens with Cruise’s Ethan Hunt waking up strapped into a chair by Philip Seymour Hoffman’s baddie Owen Davian, and staring at his newlywed, bound-and-gagged wife (Michelle Monaghan). The stakes are simple: Hunt has to deliver something called the Rabbit’s Foot, or Hoffman’s character will kill his wife after he counts to ten. Hunt tries his best to dissuade his captor, especially since he believes he already delivered the Rabbit’s Foot. But he’s apparently wrong, Hoffman counts to ten, the gun fires, and we cut to credits. The movie that follows is only a solid action film, but it starts incredibly well.
Mission: Impossible 3 stars Cruise, Ving Rhames, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Keri Russell. Co-written and directed by J. J. Abrams (in his directorial debut), co-written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, and co-produced by and starring Tom Cruise in the role of IMF agent Ethan Hunt.