Poppycock is the essence of the superspy genre, and director J.J. Abrams milks that fact for all itÃ??s worth in Mission: Impossible III. The movie is jam-packed with ordnance, high-tech explosions and hyperkinetic action sequences. Abrams cut his teeth on televisionÃ??s Ã??AliasÃ?? and Ã??Lost,Ã?? not to mention Ã??FelicityÃ?? (an all-but-unrecognizable Keri Russell shows up here, too). He works from a tight, serpentine script that never loses its rocket-sled forward motion, despite grounding the proceedings in the realistic details of our heroÃ??s personal life.
As the film quickly reveals, Impossible Mission Force hotshot Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has retired from fieldwork (a.k.a. Ã??funÃ??). HeÃ??s preparing to marry fiancÃ?e Julia (Michelle Monaghan), a nurse, and settle down a bit (a.k.a. Ã??even more funÃ??). Julia believes he spends his days working as a Virginia traffic controller, so sheÃ??s blasÃ? when heÃ??s called back to action by an IMF honcho (Billy Crudup) and sent to rescue protegÃ? Lindsey (Russell) from the clutches of evil arms dealer Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman).
In Berlin/Shanghai/Wherever-James Bond-IsnÃ??t, Hunt and his trusty team fight Davian, who does tremendously bad things with the air of a man making out his shopping list. (And Hoffman ups the ante on his long-running Ã??I have a mouthful of mashed potatoesÃ?? vocal technique to fine, creepy effect.) From there itÃ??s kiss-kiss-bang-bang all over the place, but never with less than a full measure of chaos.
Abrams, the third director to helm this orgiastic action franchise (after Brian DePalma and John Woo), has made what may be the best of these increasingly over-the-top films. Unlike its predecessors, Mission: Impossible III occasionally stops to catch its breath Ã?' hence the fascinating depiction of HuntÃ??s home life (who even surmised he might have one?). This downtime serves to ratchet up the surrounding fireballs all the more. Action connoisseurs will require defib after at least two of the set-pieces here, one involving a game of what can only be called Duck-Duck-Goose amid a field of gargantuan windmills, the other a smashingly well-edited battle between Hunt and the Bad Guys atop a doomed oceangoing causeway.
ItÃ??s all poppycock, of course, but itÃ??s done with such narrative and visual flair that you care not a jot. Summer has arrived.