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Paramount Home Video presents
Mission: Impossible III (2006)

"We put an explosive charge in your head. Does that sound familiar?"
- Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman)

Review By: Ross Johnson  
Published: October 30, 2006

Stars: Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames
Other Stars: Billy Crudup, Michelle Monaghan, Laurence Fishburne, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell, Maggie Q
Director: J.J. Abrams

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense scenes of frenetic violence and menace, disturbing images, some sensuality
Run Time: 02h:05m:32s
Release Date: October 31, 2006
UPC: 097361184647
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+A+A B

DVD Review

Mission: Impossible III was the first of the series that I didn't make it to see in theatres, and that's too bad, really, because for my money it's the best. Lost mastermind J.J. Abrams takes over the reins, and brings his own unique feel, one that will certainly be familiar to fans of Alias. In a crowded summer, the movie was a box office disappointment, and carried a great deal of baggage from producer/star Tom Cruise, whose name had, until very recently, been a firm indicator of box office gold. Slightly creepy Cruise aside, he and collaborator Abrams have put together an action movie with heart, one takes us deeper into the personal life of IMF agent Ethan Hunt than the previous entries in the series. And while it's pretty formulaic on the surface, I was drawn in nonetheless. More importantly—the fights and explosions kick ass.

The formula here is pretty standard: there's a bad guy and a vaguely threatening device of some sort, and the heroes traverse the globe using a variety of occasionally plausible gadgets and cool cars. What's different is the tone: Abrams begins with a promising (and chilling) set-up that establishes the very personal stakes for Cruise's Ethan Hunt. The obligatory threat to world peace isn't particularly interesting, and Abrams wisely declines spending much time on it. Even the bad guy, played a little too coolly by Philip Seymour Hoffman, is something of a cipher. Even though this is all standard stuff, we never lose sight of the real stakes: Davian threatens first Hunt's student (Keri Russell) and then his new wife (Michelle Monaghan). Ethan Hunt just wants to have a normal life, but Davian is going to make sure that that doesn't happen. There are some nice twists, some of them a bit obvious, but the talented cast including veteran Ving Rhames, and Laurence Fishburne, makes everything believable. Cruise himself is always tough to read, but that works well in roles like this in which he plays a man who has spent his entire career as a blank slate, needing to become anyone else at a moment's notice.

The action sequences are great—nothing to match that iconic drop from the ceiling in the first film (although Cruise does get to pay tribute to that moment), but it's still cool stuff, and well directed. Second-rate directors often try to convey excitement by moving the action, and the camera, along as swiftly as possible, often resulting is a confusing jumble. Abrams knows exactly where the camera needs to be and how to pace the moment, even slowing things down in some of the big moments to make sure we know what's going on. The choreography of these scenes, as in a spectacular rush-hour bridge assault, is flawless in a way that is extremely rare in most summer blockbusters. For your action-movie dollar you get a full range of rocket attacks, car chases, explosions, fist-fights, and even a helicopter duel in a wind turbine field. Good stuff.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This is a fabulous anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer, befitting an expensive movie, no doubt about it. Colors are deep and rich, no digital effects that I was able to spot. Very nice.

Image Transfer Grade: A+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: The movie has an agressive sound mix that plays out well along all of the channels in the Dolby 5.1 track. It's full and immersing. Like with the video, it's a rock-solid audio transfer.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 19 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
4 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Transformers, World Trade Center, The Tom Cruise Collection
6 TV Spots/Teasers
5 Deleted Scenes
3 Documentaries
6 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director J.J. Abrams and actor/producer Tom Cruise
Packaging: Amaray with slipcase
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: There's a decent assortment on this two-disc set, although unfortunately there are a lot of clips, and quite a bit of redundancy. Still, a lot of ground is covered, and while I might have preferred the extras to be a little more cohesive, the two-disc edition should tell you just about everything you'd ever want to know about MI:3. The features are spread out over both discs; if you've purchased the single-disc edition, you can stop reading after this paragraph. Disc 1 has a commentary track with Tom Cruise and J.J. Abrams. It's a bit self-congratulatory, which has the converse effect of making me think twice about a movie that I really enjoyed. They both have a lot to say, sometimes talking over each other, but there certainly aren't any lulls. The Making of the Mission is a 28-minute "pre-production to premiere" making-of, and there are five time-stamped deleted scenes available individually or by choosing "play all". Excellence in Film is a tribute to Tom Cruise that was played at the 2005 BAFTA awards. Also included are trailers for Transformers, World Trade Center, and The Tom Cruise Collection.

Moving on to Disc 2, Inside the IMF features interviews with the cast and talks about the greater focus on the IMF team in the third outing. Mission Action: Inside the Action Unit talks about the stunts and, you know, action parts. Visualizing the Mission is all about the pre-viz work; I rather enjoy the little digital cartoons that are used to visualize action sequences, so I found this fun. Mission: Metamorphosis homes in on the cool sequence where Ethan Hunt makes himself a double of Philip Seymour Hoffman's character. Scoring the Mission is next, followed by a Moviephone unscripted chat between Cruise and Abrams, where they ask each other questions submitted by viewers. It's fun mostly because Abrams looks really uncomfortable for most of it. Launching the Mission has scenes from premieres around the world, most with scenes of Cruise arriving amidst rapturous crowds in a sea of camera phones. They can be played individually or as one. Generation: Cruise is another Tom Cruise montage, this time from the MTV 2005 Movie Awards. Finally, there are four trailers, six TV spots, and a photo gallery. Look out for a few easter eggs on the second disc as well.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Mission: Impossible III hardly reinvents the wheel. At its core, its a formulaic summer actioner. In some ways, though, that's a noble tradition, and this flick carries it off with more brains, heart, and style than a lot of what's come down the pike lately. Special features are only decent, but there are a lot of them and the picture and sound are great. I wouldn't be surprised if MI:3 finds more of a home on DVD than it did in theaters.


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