Glitz sans soul

One must be ready to leave oneís thinking cap at home and become a mute spectator to the roller-coaster action, writes Ervell E. Menezes

Tom Cruise & Michelle Monaghan in Mission: Impossible III
Tom Cruise & Michelle Monaghan in
Mission: Impossible III

The title M : i : III is more like of some computer signal or technology, but that seems to be the way Hollywood is toying with titles. At one time they wanted the original film to be remembered, to enhance its success, a matter of marketing. Like in the case of The Exorcist or The Omen. Now they seem to be confusing the viewer and make him think heís seeing something new, to say nothing of switching to Roman numerals.

The original was just Mission: Impossible. Then came M: I Ė2. Now itís III in Roman numerals. But the colon and Tom Cruise seem consistent in this "old wine in new bottles game". Also, the super action and visual razzle-dazzlery. Remember Tom Cruise suspended by a chord from the roof of the bank deposit? In the latest one too he is much in "suspended animation" and is also a "running hero" a la Dustin Hoffman in his younger days. There are plenty of new gimmicks like the James Bond films of yore. Only cosmetic changes, not any deeper, sadly.

So we have Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), the superspy who came in from the 1960s TV series and knocked over global box-offices in the first two films, return to do what he does best, exterminate the bad, bad guys.

In fact thereís a stunning opening sequence where a psychotic arms dealer Owen Divian threatens to blow up his wife Julia (Michelle Monaghan) to smithereens. A gun explodes and the screen goes blank. Who but Capote director Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the part. That surely is a bonus and he makes the character truly repulsive.

Itís the familiar line, like Bond and others of his ilk. Retired from active service, Ethan Hunt agrees to embark on what must surely (ha! ha!) be his last mission. So he swings, boxes, shoots and trapezes his way about like any one-man army (Bruce Willis or Van Damme or Steven Seagal) but the viewer has the benefit of visiting exotic locations, like Berlin (you have the World Cup there now, donít you?), the Vatican (The Da Vinci Code) and Shanghai (remember The White Countess?).

Special effects folks work overtime and for sheer visual effects it touches dizzy heights but a mushy romantic plot that is remarkably far-fetched dilutes this. So one must be ready to leave oneís thinking cap at home and become a mute spectator to the roller-coaster action. It makes little sense.

That Tom Cruise is still enthusiastic in this third film speaks volumes for his professionalism but Michelle Monaghan is neither here nor there, and for that her character must take the rap. She thinks her husband studies traffic for a living. As for Laurence Fishburne as Ethanís boss his face is so bloated he is scarcely recognisable as the dad of a black teenager in John Singletonís masterpiece Boyz N the Hood. Ving Rhames, Maggie Q and Jonathan Rhys Meyers make their presences felt as part of Ethanís team, but this reviewer wouldnít go out of his way to watch this one. All glamour and glitz, no soul.