Just screened in Oz....
Just screened for critics and exhibs in Australia ahead of local release Thursday.....
Tom Cruise is the biggest movie star of our generation for one very simple reason - he knows how to deliver the goods.
Sometimes he chooses smart material that resonates (Collateral, Jerry Maguire, Few Good Men, Rainman, Risky Business); sometimes he promises and, most importantly, delivers great popcorn entertainment (Top Gun, The Firm, War Of The Worlds); sometimes he makes crap that coasts on his charisma alone (Vanilla Sky, Mission Impossible 2, Days Of Thunder, Cocktail). Regardless, he's the biggest movie star of the last 20 years - and if he keeps making them like Mission Impossible 3, he'll be at the top of the tree for 20 more.
With a smart, plausible storyline that instantly engages and a finely-attuned emotional undercurrent that provides heart and humour, MI3 is the standout of the three MI movies in every aspect. By quite a long way, in fact.
The film's key action scenes are breathtaking, esp an extended sequence set within Vatican City. Director JJ Abrams shows no sign that life as a TV director has narrowed his vision - he utilises every inch of the widescreen canvas to bring vibrancy of colour and fluidity of movement to his action. Though at times frantic, the action is never indecipherable nor implausible (well, occasionally implausible, but I was along for the ride by that stage).
Best amongst a superb support cast is Billy Crudup, though all contributors - a returning Ving Rhames, newcomers Michelle Monaghan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers (his Italian DHL guy is a hoot!), Laurence Fishburne, Keri Russell - make the most of roles that are surprisingly fleshed-out and solid for an action film. Special mention must be made of Maggie Q - Abrams shoots this stunning actress with obvious affection and she comes across every inch a movie star. THAT red dress will go down in cinema history! Philip Seymour Hoffman delivers as the bad guy in a subdued performance that doesn't stretch him as an actor but which supplies all the menace required of the role.
And The Cruiser? After the dumbing down of Ethan Hunt in MI2, Cruise has gone all out give depth and scope to the emotional core of his franchise hero, and in doing so has added immeasurably to the film as a whole. MI3 isn't the sort of stuff that will win him that elusive Oscar, but it is a performance that greys the usual black-&-white action hero role to maximum affect.
It is film that is enlivened by a young director with a natural understanding of what makes movies enjoyable, and giving his first shot at big screen glory every effort. Abrams obvious enthusiasm rubs off on all contributors to the film - not only the cast, but the crisp cinematography (the virgin print screened in Oz was gorgeous), the production design work and the stunt choreography. Also, though I know it was there, the CGI work was undetectable.
MI3 kick-starts the American summer season with a real bang. If the other studios come to the party with their own super-charged, smartly-penned product in the weeks ahead, 2006 could be the blockbuster season we've all hoped for for so long.