Mission: Impossible III (2005) (W)

AKA ‘Action Movie’
IMDb / Ebert
Written by Screenwriters
Directed by a Director

Action Movie is the latest vehicle for Movie Star, and it’s definitive multiplex entertainment. You go down the cinema these days, and they’re not even trying to draw you in anymore. The screens are eight times bigger than before, and the sound is up past 11, and they just beat you into submission. And in the case of Action Movie, I didn’t even try to put up a fight. I sat back passively for a couple of hours and lapped it all right up.

I haven’t seen the two earlier installments in the Action Movie franchise, but that didn’t cause any confusion in terms of understanding the plot. My confusion stemmed solely from the gaping plot holes and jumps in logic. Hang on, that isn’t true – I wasn’t confused by them, I was totally passive. So, I must’ve just accepted them and moved on. This is a movie that has no truck with explaining the central object of everyone’s desire. You come out wondering ‘So was the rabbit’s foot actually the anti-God?’ without a shred of irony. I also wasn’t confused by where the action was set because of the titles that would appear on screen whenever the location changed. ‘Berlin, Germany’, for example, or ‘Shanghai, China’. Not America, then.

There’s a theory that the bigger and more outlandish the stunts, the better the quality of the production. If that theory is valid, then this is a very high quality production. They take a standard issue helicopter chase – normally no big deal – and put it through a wind farm! A bloody wind farm! Imagine: two helicopters, one with terse, fearful good guys, the other with nameless faceless evil ones (in this case, Germans), ducking and weaving through one wind turbine after another. I don’t need to tell you how the baddies get done in, nor do I need to point out further how audaciously ingenious this scene is. It was topped by the causeway chase/battle, though, a True Lies-inspired sequence of dangling, shooting, and shit blowing up. My absolute favourite sequence would have to have been Mask Sequence 1, though (there’s more than one). It was practically stunt-free, but it had two different versions of Character Actor, so I giggled joyously throughout.

Product placement gets a highly commendable pass as well. They had the Budweiser “wassup” exchange, a shiny new Nokia was practically glued to the hands of Movie Star, a Lamborghini had a featured blowing up, and whatever other new shit I subconsciously buy over the next couple of weeks. There are even elements of 80s Action – “Remember how I said I would kill you last? I lied” sort of stuff. No messing, the Screenwriters knew what they were doing. I’ll bet they really hit their stride around the 15th draft.

Movie Star is very well supported. Stunning Asian Woman, Wisecracking Black Man, Surly Black Man, Impossibly Cute Wife (who happens to be handy with a gun, too), Wacky British Nerd, Amusing (and in this case, Androgynously Attractive) Irish Man… all the stock players pulled out to say some words and generally look beautiful. When a movie has not one but two Agent Bilkins figures, you know you’ve got a hit. Not to mention Character Actor – why the hell shouldn’t you take that big payday? There’s no reason not to. Don’t listen to the naysayers. You deserve it, and your lack of scenery-chewing is to be commended.

It’s all about Movie Star, though. Right from the start of the opening credits, where they boldly display: ‘A Movie Star/Bigshot Producer Production’. It’s his show, and his massive, religiously misguided ego is nearly always front and centre. Do I mind? Hell no! This guy kicks eight kinds of ass. He does calculations on windows with available chalk, then swings from one building to another. He dies, or should die, maybe ten times in the film but always gets away clean. In fact, the best part of the whole movie is the end – him and everyone else have died around 3o collective deaths, but they’re all there in a Return of the King style slow-mo love-fest. It’s divine cinema.

Well done, Director, you’ve made the transition from Action TV Serials to Action Movies. Action Movie is the real deal, an edge-of-your-seat ride that offers infinite thrills and spills. It’s the consummate moviegoing experience. Even the pre-show program was louder and went for longer than usual. Get ye to the cinema and soak up the adrenaline pouring off the screen, then go forth and commit wondrous deeds, like getting up in the morning for runs, or learning how to shoot a weapon. It’s a life-changing experience.

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