A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie includes frequent, intense scenes of violence, including a few (repeat) shots of a dead character's grisly face, whose loss causes some brief heartache for our hero). Secret agent action includes explosions (including tiny bombs that detonate inside agents' brains), shootouts with automatic weapons, missile fire, car and helicopter chases, falls, crashes, and torture (victims tied to chairs, showing sweaty faces and teary eyes). A couple kisses and then, following a quick hospital chapel wedding, has sex in a supply room (scene cuts away following removal of shirts); girl appears briefly in shower, head and shoulders up. Blood is visible following a few shootings. Ethan's face is repeatedly bruised and scraped. Characters drink wine, champagne, and beer. Villain smokes cigarettes a couple of times.
What's the story?
In MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise ) faces off repeatedly with Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman), seemingly over a very expensive ($850 million) world-killing device they call the Rabbit's Foot, but really, over their boy stuff. They are, after all, hero and villain, and they're destined to duke it out for your viewing pleasure. Now married, Ethan has given up field ops to train new IMF agents, but he's called off on an impossible mission by Musgrave (Billy Crudup) to rescue former student, Lindsey (Keri Russell), who has been kidnapped by the diabolical Davian. Ethan's rushed off to meet with his old partner Luther (Ving Rhames), and the two get help in their series of high-octane action scenes, including a couple of beautiful newbies, Zhen (Maggie Q) and Declan (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), and an aptly twitchy tech, Benji (Simon Pegg).
Is it any good?
Mission Impossible III is boisterous and violent, a good ride. But for all the fun, it also includes some acknowledgement of costs: emotional, physical, and political. Reconceived by the Cruise-selected writer-director J.J. Abrams, Ethan is here made vulnerable by his love for someone else. That's not to say he's not also the usual Ethan, admirably decisive and troublingly hard-headed.
While the movie tends to privilege Ethan's perspective -- his stunts, his goals, his urgency -- when it cuts to occasional other views, the effect can be jarring. Pursuing his own ends without regard to consequences makes Ethan heroic from one angle, and not a little barmy from another. Ethan's excesses are admirable: he jumps off any building, drives any vehicle, shoots any weapon at any target. But when he risks those close to him, the stakes are different. The scariest possibility in M:I:III is not that Ethan will lose, but that he'll win, and along the way, absorb his pretty little wife into his fearsome orbit.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the tension Ethan feels between his job and his personal life/romance. How does he learn that lying to his wife has various costs, in terms of trust as well as her physical danger? They can also talk about action movies in general, and whether a movie needs violence in order to be thrilling.
- In theaters: May 5, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: October 31, 2006
- Cast: Laurence Fishburne, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tom Cruise
- Director: J.J. Abrams
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 125 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: for intense sequences of frenetic violence and menace, disturbing images and some sensuality.
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