‘Alias,’ the movie: Implosive action

Home > Culture > Features

print dictionary print

‘Alias,’ the movie: Implosive action


Ask the executive producer of “Alias” for his mission statement and he’ll likely show you a few minutes of footage: Jennifer Garner as the superspy Sydney Bristow, sweating bullets and running down a dark alley in Hong Kong in a plaid miniskirt. Unabashedly pointless action with a candy coating of melodrama was what made “Alias” so successful, and though Tom Cruise wouldn’t look nearly as good in a schoolgirl outfit, the same principles apply to the “Mission: Impossible” series.
So the perfect prescription for an “MI” recovery seemed to be the “Alias” brain trust: J.J. Abrams in the director’s chair and Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci behind the screenplay.
True to form, what Abrams and Co. have created in “Mission: Impossible III” is essentially a two-hour episode of “Alias.” Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) gets called back to the Impossible Mission Force to rescue Lindsay (Keri Russell), an old student of his, and when he fails, the movie turns into a grudge match against the sadistic arms dealer Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Soon Ethan realizes his superiors (Laurence Fishburne, Billy Crudup) might have other loyalties, and he and his team take matters into their own hands. Meanwhile, Ethan has to struggle unsuccessfully to keep his private and professional lives secret. It doesn’t just sound like the plot of “Alias,” it is the plot of “Alias,” right down to the snarky tech with attention deficit disorder (Simon Pegg) and a last-minute revelation that makes no sense.
But the story is just an excuse for explosions, and “MI:III” has plenty. A helicopter chase through a wind farm, a covert break-in and kidnapping at the Vatican, a missile assault on a highway and a leap from a skyscraper (two, actually) in Shanghai get the adrenaline pumping. Michelle Monaghan may be entirely unappealing as Hunt’s fiancee, but Hoffman creates the perfect bad guy in the sneering, vindictive Davian. The gadgets still hover on the edge of believability, the cars are still fast and sexy, and Ving Rhames is still one bad hombre.
If you’ve insulated yourself from the sewer that is celebrity news for the past two years, that might as well be that. But anyone who has been around for Tom Cruise’s increasingly weird, Scientology-fueled public appearances will find it hard to forget about.
Of course, the more vicious rumors aren’t Cruise’s fault, so it might seem unfair to judge him on public image alone ― but if it’s not his public image as an action hero that he’s selling in “MI:III,” what is it? Certainly it’s not his acting talent. The movie might show me Ethan Hunt jumping across a blown-out bridge, but all I can think of is Tom Cruise leaping up and down on Oprah’s couch. And Ethan Hunt might still crack wise to his superiors, but all I can think of is how Tom Cruise had to remind his interviewers that he was joking when he said he was going to eat his newborn’s placenta.
Of course, you might be better than I am at separating fantasy from reality. If so, you’ll be able to enjoy “Mission: Impossible III” for what it is: A fun, expensive spy movie without the tedious burden of mental stimulation.

Mission: Impossible III
Action / English
126 min.
Now playing

by Ben Applegate
Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)