May 15, 2006 12:00 PM


Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames, Michelle Monaghan



Here’s hoping that Tom Cruise wore a protective cup while making this latest Mission: Impossible. The frequency with which his character, super-secret agent Ethan Hunt, slams into buildings, slides under cars, falls from great heights and otherwise suffers major bodily harm makes a viewer mutter repeatedly, “Jeez, that’s gotta hurt.”

The action is nonstop in M:I III, which is a good thing since the plot is international-intrigue mumbo jumbo (Ethan travels to Berlin, Rome and Shanghai, all in a few days) cribbed from director-cowriter J.J. Abrams’s TV series Alias and dozens of other spy guy films. The supposed twist in this Mission chapter is that Ethan plans to wed (a nurse, played by Monaghan) and stick to a quiet life of just training agents. But the bad guys have other plans. The truly refreshing change is that there’s less reliance on those ridiculous mask disguises than in previous Missions (though we do finally get to see how they’re made).

Cruise is at his most gung ho here, running, jumping and cranking up the intensity. He strains mightily—so much so that when he squeezes out a single tear a viewer, instead of feeling Ethan’s pain, merely wonders how hard Cruise practiced to learn that trick.


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