Day 350 - 12/16/09 - Movie #350
BEFORE: According to the DVD case, reviewer Jeffrey Lyons said this movie was "The best Mission: Impossible yet!" However, based on the first two films in the franchise, that doesn't seem so hard to accomplish.
THE PLOT: Ethan Hunt comes face to face with a dangerous and sadistic arms dealer while trying to keep his identity secret in order to protect his girlfriend.
AFTER: Looks like Jeffrey Lyons got it right - that was the best of the three films, partially because it was the most "realistic" while still maintaining the spirit of the first two. For example, they only pulled the latex mask "false face" trick once (OK, twice...) instead of the 4 or 5 times it was overused in the previous movie.
A lot of acting heft was added with the casting of Philip Seymour Hoffman as the film's villain - he worked much better in an action film than I would have expected. Hunt's botched capture of arms dealer Owen Davian (Hoffman) puts Hunt's fiancee (Michelle Monaghan) at risk - so the last part of the film is devoted to her kidnap and rescue. Plus there may be another mole high up in the IMF organization - damn, how does this keep happening?
Also starring Ving Rhames (again), Jonathan Rhys Myers, Billy Crudup, Laurence Fishburne, Keri Russell, and that Simon Pegg guy (who was so great in "Star Trek" and "Hot Fuzz") Some of the castings make more sense when you realize the film was directed by J.J. Abrams, who directed "Alias", "Felicity" (with Keri Russell) and the new "Star Trek" (with Simon Pegg).
For the most part, this is a back-to-basics spy film, with more emphasis on gunplay and wire stunts over fantasy tech devices (though there are a few) - but I've got to take a point off for not including the famous "this tape will self-destruct in 5 seconds" bit...I've also got a problem with any movie (or comic book, for that matter) that takes a scene from the end of the movie and plays it at the beginning, to show us the most exciting bit that's coming up later in the film. What it suggests to me is that the writer or director doesn't have much confidence in the opening scenes of his film, or can't come up with a good way to start the story. The problem is, we the audience then spend the whole movie knowing where things are going - to be fair though, in this case, there is a twist once we reach that point...
RATING: 6 out of 10 satellites