JJ Abrams’ jump from the small screen is a big one. His TV roots were formed with the hit series Alias and Felicity and for his cinematic debut, Paramount have given him a huge budget and one of Hollywoods biggest (and loopy) stars, Tom Cruise. Not only that, they’ve given him one of their bigger franchises to tinker with in Mission Impossible III.
Thankfully, Abrams was up to the job and his third entry in the MI franchise brings the series back on course following John Woo’s misfire second outing. Fans of Alias, will find the story structure familiar - the pre-credits sequence see’s our hero in deep trouble, his new wife has a gun pointed at her head and she’s about to die if he doesn’t tell her would-be murderer where the Rabbit’s Foot is; unfortunately Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is as clueless as the rest of us and as the trigger is pulled we jump to the credits sequence. It’s a tense opening and sets the tone for the rest of the film. We then quickly jump back to the beginning of the story and Ethan and Julie (Michelle Monaghan) are throwing their engagement party…
Despite the variation in the styles with the films in the series, we kind-of know what to expect; but the story isn’t too predictable. There are some stunning set pieces, one in particular see’s Cruise and his team get ambushed when returning home from a successful mission to the Vatican. While Abrams’ direction does vere into Michael Bay territory, it remains coherent despite being frenzied.
Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Cruise’ nemesis, Owen Davian, in this installment and while I for one don’t expect him to be in such a role, he aquits himself well and is convincing as a ruthless killer. Fans of Spaced and Shaun of the Dead will recognise Simon Pegg as the quirky IMF tech guy.
The Paramount HD DVD offers a great picture quality with no sign of any artefacting or edge-enhancement. I’d put the transfer almost on a par with that of Serenity and the set pieces in particular show wonderful definition and perfect colour balance. The soundtrack is suitable bombastic and is hugely active with gun shots and explosions making the full use of the available sound stage. There is a second disc of extras but I’ve yet to watch these.
HD DVD: 8/10