Sunday, May 07, 2006

To Dream The Impossible Dream

I'm the membership chair for Passionate Ink, the erotic romance chapter of RWA. While I mostly enjoy the job, the chapter operates two different websites and keeping their membership lists reconciled is an ongoing challenge. I spent most of this weekend trying to sort out our 350 members. For some reason, erotic romance writers LOVE to change their Usernames without telling anyone.

I did take some time off to go with a friend to see Mission Impossible III.

Plotwise, MI3 makes way more sense than either of the two previous movies. I actually knew what was going on this time. Like the old Alfred Hitchcock movies, the plot revolves around a MacGuffin, which Hitchcock famously described as a plot device that moves the story, but that is unimportant otherwise. In this case, the MacGuffin is a weapon called "the rabbit's foot." Everyone wants it, but Ethan Hawke has to retrieve it in order to save his wife's life. The rabbit's foot is in a glass container decorated with danger symbols, but no one ever explains what it actually is. Maybe they're saving the secret for MI4.

The story has Ethan Hawke, Tom Cruise's character, in a semi-retired position with the IM Force. He now trains other agents. He's engaged to be married to a lovely nurse who thinks he works for the Department of Transportation. There's an early moment meant to be amusing in a Clark Kent kind of way where Cruise talks about his DOT job with his then-fiancee's friends. His delivery is so heavy-handed that it falls flat.

All the MI movies are star vehicles for Cruise. That fact was more obvious than usual during this outing because no one else got much screen time. Director J.J. Abrams brought in a heavyweight like Philip Seymour Hoffman to play the villain Owen Davian and then didn't give him much of a chance to do anything. Likewise for two of my favorite actors, Laurence Fishburne and Ving Rhames. It's a mark of how good all three actors are that they managed to make the most of their brief appearances. That being said, I thought Simon Pegg as Benji, a computer techie back at the IM headquarters, stole the show. He provided most of the humor in the film.

There were nods to the original television show. The famous vinyl masks and the split-second timing that were hallmarks of the show are in evidence. There were great foreign locales, too: Berlin, Vatican City and Shanghai.

Most of all, there was non-stop action. I'm a big action movie fan and, believe me, when I say MI3 is non-stop, I mean it. The two hours fly by without a break in intensity.

That's probably a good thing. During Abrams' attempts to humanize the Hawke character, it was really obvious that Cruise's emoting range is fairly constricted. He did squeeze out a tear when his wife was being tortured, and I found myself actually wondering if someone squeegeed it onto his face.

Don't get me wrong. The movie is a terrific action pic. I guess, after Time named J.J. Abrams as one of the 100 people who shape the world, I was hoping for a bit more.


Sherrill Quinn said...

Yeah. No desire to see MI3. I haven't gotten over MI1 where they made James Phelps the bad guy. And I'm not a Tom Cruise fan. At all. Phfft.

Me, I'm waiting for X-Men 3. Now, Hugh... grrrrrowf. :)

Emjay said...

Not a Cruise fan at all. Weird guy, left that nice wife and preached at Brooke Shields about taking anti-depressants--something that he knows zilch about.

But I try not to let the personal life and/or politics of actors affect my going to see them.

Fortunately, I HATE action movies.

I like talk and romance.