Saturday, May 6, 2006

It should have come first...

Saw Mission: Impossible III tonight, and I have to say, Emmy-winning director/Emmy-winning writer/composer/Emmy-winning producer J.J. Abrams has finally proven himself. (Irony deliberate.) This movie was so different from the first two it was almost distracting, but it was different in all the best ways.
In the first two there was action, but never peril. There was flash, but almost no substance. There were characters, but no characterization. There were obstacles, but always a rocket powered hard drive and computer controlled climbing gear to overcome them. That and the helicopter in the tunnel was just dumb...or was that just any one of a hundred other spy movies? See what I mean? This time around, the villain is intimidating and dangerous, the tech is almost real-world (who would have ever thought of actually using a knife to cut rope?), the peril is ever-present, and sometimes there's not much the hero can do about it. And of course there's lots of action, flash (and bang), and obstacles. It wouldn't be a Hollywood action movie otherwise, would it?
Granted, some people are going to hate this movie. There are scenes with dialogue, and [spoiler!!]scenes with no guns[spoiler!!]. But one of the best things about this movie is that it is not what people are going to expect. Some other things that stood out:

  • The sound effects. Check out the bullets ricocheting off the girders near the beginning.
  • The action sequences manage to be exciting without venturing too far into the ludicrous.
  • Counting to ten has never been so ruthless.
  • Abrams knows that understatement is key. That is, sometimes falling off a wall is more impressive than blowing a hole through it, and if you're not going to develop a character, it's ok, as long as you don't write "2-D" on a flashing neon sign.
  • This one's a (somewhat) bad thing: the final scene. The movie should have ended on the bridge. The last scene was just cheesy.

It had its fair share of flaws, but all in all, a very entertaining action movie.

Side note: I have a rule that Abrams seems to understand: If you can say it in one line, don't take a whole scene. If you can say it in a word, don't take a whole line. If the actor can say it with a look, don't say anything at all. And it only takes 3 seconds to fall off a wall and change your clothes.

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