Hunt wants to settle down with fiancée Julia (Michelle Monaghan) and pretend he really does work for the Public Transport Authority – which is what he tells her he does, boring party guests with tales of traffic. But of course, there’s one last job – to rescue a protégée caught on the trail of a bad-hat arms dealer (a maliciously perfect Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote). A guy with a penchant for planting bombs in the brains of his foes. But can Hunt give it up when he knows there’s a lethal weapon – the mysterious Rabbit’s Foot – on the loose? Teaming up with friends old and new, Hunt sprints across the globe – gate-crashing the Vatican, swinging Spidey-style between Shanghai skyscrapers. But when Julia is targeted, the stakes are raised.
Fair enough. But do they use the famous theme-tune? Those rubber-masks that help Hunt switch identities? Are there gimmicky gadgets and clever-clog infiltrations? Yes! And are there lots and lots of eye-popping stunts and actions sequences? Yes! So all is rosy? Well, no. Writer-director J J Abrams (best known for cult TV shows Alias and Lost) was chosen by Cruise to helm Mi:3 and it rattles along well. But Abrams sells-out to the ill-conceived vogue for choppy edits and jiggly-wiggly camerawork and almost ruins every big action scene. And there are some corkers – especially a nail-biting rocket-attack pile-up on a bridge. Good action, though, needs more than whippy visuals and turned-up decibels. Aping The Bourne Supremacy, Abrams aims for realism. Sloppy disorientation is the result.
Mi:3 is also an American geography lesson – “Rome, Italy”; “Shanghai, China”. Right. Not the ones in Arizona then. But there is still much to enjoy. The Vatican slip-in is fun, with Cruise looking the bizz as a priest. And the Seymour Hoffman mask sequence is enjoyably done. A roof-top slide-down is exciting (recalling Jackie Chan’s more hair-raising version in Who Am I?). The plot too – Hitchcock’s macguffin really – is perfect, full of twisty turns you don’t expect. Monaghan is strong in an underwritten role. But it’s Britain’s Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) who shines - in a very funny IT-geek cameo (Abrams likes those, having done it less amusingly in Alias).
Energy, emotion, fun and games - Mi:3 has it all. This is Cruise’s film though. And in Mi:3 he gets to be both Action Man and Tiny Tears. That’s what’s on offer – if you choose to accept it.