ⓘ Mission: Impossible III


ⓘ Mission: Impossible III

Mission: Impossible III is a 2006 American action spy film co-written and directed by J. J. Abrams, co-written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, and co-produced by and starring Tom Cruise in the role of IMF agent Ethan Hunt. It is the third installment in the Mission: Impossible film series, following 2000s Mission: Impossible 2. In the film, Ethan has retired from field work for the Impossible Missions Force and trains new recruits. However, he is sent back into action to track down the elusive arms dealer Owen Davian.

Mission: Impossible III premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 26, 2006, and was released in the United States on May 5, 2006. It received positive reviews from critics and was a commercial success, grossing over $397 million against a $150 million budget. It was followed by Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol in 2011.


1. Plot

Six years after the events of the previous film, Ethan Hunt has retired from field work for the IMF. He instead trains new recruits while settling down with his fiancee, Julia Meade, a nurse who is unaware of Ethans true job. He is approached by fellow IMF agent John Musgrave about a mission to rescue one of Ethans proteges, Lindsey Farris. Lindsey was captured while investigating arms dealer Owen Davian. Musgrave has already prepared a team for Ethan: Declan Gormley, Zhen Lei, and his old partner Luther Stickell.

The team rescues Lindsey and collects two damaged laptop computers. As they flee, Ethan discovers an explosive pellet implanted in Lindseys head. Before he can disable it, it goes off and kills her. Back in the U.S., Ethan and Musgrave are reprimanded by IMF Director Theodore Brassel. Ethan learns that Lindsey mailed him a postcard before her capture and discovers a magnetic microdot under the stamp.

IMF technician Benji Dunn recovers enough data from the laptops to determine Davian will be in Vatican City to obtain a mysterious object called the "Rabbits Foot". Ethan plans a mission to capture Davian without seeking official approval. Before leaving, he and Julia have an impromptu wedding at the hospitals chapel. The team successfully infiltrates Vatican City and captures Davian.

On the flight back to the U.S., Ethan threatens to drop Davian from the plane as he interrogates him about the Rabbits Foot, but Davian refuses to reveal anything. After landing, Ethan learns that the microdot contains a video of Lindsey warning that Brassel is working with Davian. The convoy taking Davian across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel is attacked by German-speaking mercenaries hired to locate and extract Davian from IMF custody, and Davian escapes. Realizing Julia is also in danger, Ethan races to Julias workplace, only to discover she has already been kidnapped. Davian calls Ethan and gives him 48 hours to recover the Rabbits Foot in exchange for Julias life. But before Ethan can do anything, he is captured by the IMF.

Musgrave takes part in Ethans interrogation but discreetly mouths that the Rabbits Foot is located in Shanghai, China, and provides Ethan with the means to escape. Ethan successfully escapes IMF headquarters shortly thereafter, resulting in him being declared an enemy of the state and placed on Interpols most wanted list.

Ethan then secretly travels to Shanghai where Declan Gormley, Zhen Lei, and Luther, sent by Musgrave under the guise of another operation, assist him in acquiring the Rabbits Foot. As he delivers the Rabbits Foot to the meeting point, Ethan is tranquilized. When he comes to, a micro-explosive is implanted in his head by one of Davians henchmen. The restrained Ethan sees Davian holding Julia at gunpoint. Julia is bound to a chair and gagged with duct tape on her mouth. Despite Ethan asserting that he brought the real Rabbits Foot, Davian shoots Julia and leaves.

Musgrave arrives and explains that the woman killed was not Julia, but Davians head of security disguised as Julia, executed for failing to protect him in Vatican City. The ruse was to confirm the authenticity of the Rabbits Foot. Julia is alive and being held hostage. Musgrave reveals himself as the mole. He arranged for Davian to acquire the Rabbits Foot and sell it to a terrorist group so that IMF would have reason to launch a preemptive strike.

When Musgrave lets his guard down, Ethan manages to knock him unconscious. He frees himself and uses Musgraves phone to track the last calls location to find Julia. With help from Benji on the phone, he locates the place, but encounters Davian and some of his henchmen. Ethan kills the henchmen, but Davian triggers the explosive in Ethans head. Ethan fights him and manages to kill him. He comes back to free Julia, and then jury-rigs an impromptu defibrillator to deactivate the explosive. Before electrocuting himself, he kisses Julia and teaches her how to use his Beretta 92 to defend herself. While Ethan is dead, Musgrave and a henchman arrive, and Julia is able to kill them. She successfully revives Ethan, and he explains his true IMF career to her.

Back in the US, Brassel and others congratulate Ethan as he leaves for his honeymoon with Julia.


2. Cast

  • Aaron Paul as Rick Meade
  • Laurence Fishburne as Theodore Brassel, Head of the IMF
  • Maggie Q as Zhen, member of Ethans team
  • Eddie Marsan as Brownway, Davians right-hand man
  • Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn, IMF technician
  • Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, an IMF agent
  • Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell, member of Ethans team
  • Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Declan, member of Ethans team
  • Michelle Monaghan as Julia, Ethans fiancee / Wife
  • Rose Rollins as Ellie
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman as Owen Davian, the black market dealer
  • Greg Grunberg as Kevin
  • Michael Berry Jr. as Julias kidnapper
  • Keri Russell as Lindsey Farris, IMF agent trained by Ethan
  • Billy Crudup as Musgrave, IMF Operations Director
  • Bahar Soomekh as Davians translator
  • Sasha Alexander as Melissa Meade
  • Jeff Chase as Davians bodyguard
  • Carla Gallo as Beth
  • Bellamy Young as Rachael

3.1. Production Development

In 2002, director David Fincher was slated to direct the next installment of the Mission: Impossible film series for a summer of 2004 release date. Fincher, however, dropped out in favor of another film, later citing creative differences over the direction of the series. Replacing Fincher was director Joe Carnahan, who worked on developing the film for 15 months. Under his involvement, the film was to feature "Kenneth Branagh playing a guy whos based on Timothy McVeigh," as well as Carrie-Anne Moss and Scarlett Johansson in other roles. Thandie Newton was offered to reprise her role as Nyah Nordoff-Hall from Mission: Impossible 2 but she declined, in order to concentrate on her family. Her role in the story was later changed to a new character named Leah Quint, who would have been played by Moss. However, once J.J. Abrams took over directing the project, the character was scrapped.

After a dispute over the films tone, Carnahan quit in July 2004. Tom Cruise then called J. J. Abrams, offering the directorial role for the film after having binge-watched the first two seasons of Alias. Abrams ultimately signed on, with production delayed a year due to his contractual obligations with Alias and Lost. During this time, Branagh, Moss, and Johansson departed from the project because of the many delays in production. On June 8, 2005, Paramount Pictures gave the film the green-light after a new cast of actors was hired and the films budget was redeveloped, with Cruise taking a major pay cut.


3.2. Production Filming

Principal photography began in Rome, Italy on July 12, 2005 and ended in October. Location filming took place in China Shanghai and Xitang, Germany Berlin, Italy Rome and Caserta, the United States California, Virginia and Maryland, and Vatican City. The night scenes involving the skyscrapers were filmed in Shanghai, while some of the Shanghai filming was also done in Los Angeles.


3.3. Production Music

The films musical score was composed by Michael Giacchino. He is the third composer to take on the series, following Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer. The score album was released on May 9, 2006 by Varese Sarabande Records. Unlike the previous installments, no soundtrack album featuring the films contemporary music was released. Despite this, the film features a song by Kanye West entitled "Impossible" that also features Twista, Keyshia Cole and BJ.


4.1. Distribution Marketing

To promote the film, Paramount rigged 4.500 randomly selected Los Angeles Times vending boxes with digital audio players which would play the theme song when the door was opened. The audio players did not always stay concealed, and in many cases came loose and fell on top of the stack of newspapers in plain view, with the result that they were widely mistaken for bombs. Police bomb squads detonated a number of the vending boxes and even temporarily shut down a veterans hospital in response to the apparent "threat". Despite these problems, Paramount and the Los Angeles Times opted to leave the audio players in the boxes until two days after the movies opening.


4.2. Distribution "Trapped in the Closet" controversy

A blog entry of Hollywoodinterrupted.com in March 2006 alleged that Viacom parent of Paramount and Comedy Central canceled the rebroadcast of the South Park episode "Trapped in the Closet" due to threats by Cruise to refuse to participate in the Mission: Impossible III publicity circle. These assertions were soon also reported by E! News and American Morning.

Fox News attributed threats from Cruise, stating, "to back out of his Mission: Impossible III promotional duties if Viacom didnt pull a repeat of the episode", as evidence of "bad blood" between Cruise and Viacom. The Washington Post reported that South Park fans "struck back", in March 2006, and threatened to boycott Mission: Impossible III until Comedy Central put "Trapped in the Closet" back on its schedule. Melissa McNamara of CBS News later questioned whether this boycott hurt the films box office debut. Political blogger Andrew Sullivan encouraged a boycott of the film, based on claims that Cruise allegedly forced Comedy Central to censor a South Park episode about Scientologists. "Make sure you dont go see Paramounts Mission: Impossible III, Cruises upcoming movie," Sullivan wrote. "I know you werent going to see it anyway. But now any money you spend on this movie is a blow against freedom of speech. Boycott it. Tell your friends to boycott it."

When asked in ABCs Primetime about his involvement with stopping the episode rebroadcast on Comedy Central, Cruise stated "First of all, could you ever imagine sitting down with anyone? I would never sit down with someone and question them on their beliefs. Heres the thing: Im really not even going to dignify this. I honestly didnt really even know about it. Im working, making my movie, Ive got my family. Im busy. I dont spend my days going, What are people saying about me?"


5.1. Reception Box office

Opening in 4.054 theaters all across the United States, the fourth largest opening ever up to that point, the film topped the box office in its opening weekend. It made $16.6 million on its opening day and $47.7 million in its opening weekend, a solid opening yet almost $10 million lower than the franchises previous films. The film remained at number one with $25 million during its second weekend, ahead of Poseidon s gross of $22.2 million. The film remained in the Top 10 at the box office for the remainder of its first six weeks. It ended its initial domestic run on July 20, 2006, taking in a total of $134 million. It was the second movie in 2006 to pass the $100.000.000 mark in the box office, following Ice Age: The Meltdown. The $134 million domestic run was significantly lower than that of Mission Impossible II.

Outside the US, the film grossed $70 million during its first five days in some Asian countries, it opened two days ahead of its North American release date and was easily the box-office champion in many countries. As of 2017, its international box office gross has reached $263.8 million for a combined worldwide gross of $397.8 million, the lowest so far of the series.

In the Netherlands, the film debuted at No. 1 in the week of May 4–10, grossing a total of € 532.384. The following week, the film remained on the top position. In its third, the film dropped to No. 2 and fell to No. 4 to the following week. Next, it maintained the No. 4 position to drop to No. 6 in the week of June 6 - June 14. In total, the film has grossed over €2.141.162. Mission Impossible III took less than half at the box office than Fallout and to date Mission Impossible III is the lowest-grossing film in the series.


5.2. Reception Critical response

On the film-critics aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, Mission: Impossible III received 70% positive reviews from critics, with an average of 6.6/10, based on 221 reviews. The sites critical consensus reads, "Fast-paced, with eye-popping stunts and special effects, the latest Mission: Impossible installment delivers everything an action fan could ask for. A thrilling summer popcorn flick." It holds a similar rating on Metacritic, with an average score of 66/100, indicating "generally favorable reviews" based on a normalized average of 42 reviews.

On the television show Ebert & Roeper, Richard Roeper gave Mission: Impossible III a "thumbs up," while Roger Ebert gave it a marginal "thumbs down." In Eberts print review, he gave the film a score of two and a half stars out of four, saying, "Either you want to see mindless action and computer-generated sequences executed with breakneck speed and technical precision, or you do not. I am getting to the point where I dont much care." He felt "surprised that the plot hangs together more than in the other two films."

Keith Phipps of The Onion s A.V. Club said the film is "business as usual, but its the best kind of business as usual, and it finds everyone working in top form." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly called Mission: Impossible III "a gratifyingly clever, booby-trapped thriller that has enough fun and imagination and dash to more than justify its existence." Marc Savlov of The Austin Chronicle said that "its all poppycock, of course, but its done with such vim and vigor and both narrative and visual flair that you care not a jot." James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film a score of two and a half stars out of four, saying that it "provides lots of action, but too little excitement."

Ian Nathan of Empire said that Mission: Impossible III has "an inspired middle-hour pumped by some solid action" but added that "we now live in a post-Bourne, recalibrated-Bond universe, where Ethan Hunt looks a bit lost." Manohla Dargis of The New York Times said that "Hoffman enlivens Mission: Impossible III but criticized the films "maudlin romance" and "Abramss inability to adapt his small-screen talent to a larger canvas." Rob Nelson of the Dallas Observer said that "Abramss movie is too oppressive, too enamored of its brutality to deliver anything like real thrills; its deeply unpleasant tone nearly makes you long even for is just this side of insultingly stupid." Shawn Levy of The Oregonian said that Mission: Impossible III "feels like one of the more forgettable James Bond films - saddled, moreover, with a star whos sliding into self-parody."


6. Home media

Mission: Impossible III was released on DVD, HD DVD and Blu-ray on October 30, 2006, the first film by a studio to be released simultaneously in all three formats. A 4K UHD Blu-ray release occurred on June 26, 2018.