Mission: Impossible III

Mission: Impossible III
Mission: Impossible III

Theatrical release poster
Directed by J. J. Abrams
Produced by Tom Cruise
Paula Wagner
Written by Alex Kurtzman
Roberto Orci
J. J. Abrams
Starring Tom Cruise
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Ving Rhames
Michelle Monaghan
Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Billy Crudup
Laurence Fishburne
Maggie Q
Simon Pegg
Keri Russell
Eddie Marsan
Music by Michael Giacchino
Main Theme:
Lalo Schifrin
Cinematography Dan Mindel
Editing by Maryann Brandon
Mary Jo Markey
Studio Cruise/Wagner
Bad Robot Productions
MI 3 Film
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) May 5, 2006 (2006-05-05) (US)
Running time 126 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $150 million[1]
Box office $397,850,012 (worldwide)

Mission: Impossible III (also known as M:i:III) is a 2006 spy film, the third based on the spy-themed television series Mission: Impossible starring Tom Cruise who reprises his role of IMF agent Ethan Hunt.

The film was directed by J. J. Abrams, and was his first film as a director. It was first released on April 26, 2006 at the Tribeca Film Festival, and widely released in the United States on May 5, 2006.



Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has retired as a team leader at the IMF and instead taken to training new recruits while settling down with his fiancée Julia (Michelle Monaghan), a nurse at a local hospital who is unaware of Ethan's past. At a party, Ethan is approached by his fellow IMF agent John Musgrave (Billy Crudup), who secretly relays a mission to him: to rescue one of Ethan's protégés, Lindsey Farris (Keri Russell), who was captured while on a mission to investigate the infamous black market dealer Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Musgrave has already prepared a team for Ethan, consisting of Declan Gormley (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), Zhen Lei (Maggie Q), and his old partner Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), ready to meet him in Berlin.

The IMF team raids the warehouse where Lindsay is kept, release her and collect two computer laptops during their escape. As they flee on a helicopter, Lindsay warns them of a micro-explosive implanted in her head, and before Ethan can use a defibrillator to disable the device, it goes off, killing Lindsay. Ethan and Musgrave are reprimanded by IMF director Brassel (Laurence Fishburne) for the loss of an agent, and the poor condition of the stolen laptops. Ethan learns that Lindsay had mailed him a postcard before her capture. Showing it to Luther in private, they discover a magnetic microdot under the stamp, which Luther takes to his contacts to decode.

IMF technician Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) is able to recover enough from the damaged laptops to find that Davian is going to Vatican City to receive a mysterious object called the "Rabbit's Foot"; though it's never explained what it is, it can be presumed that it's some sort of weapon which he plans to sell for a lot of money. Ethan plans the mission to capture Davian and the device without seeking Brassel's or Musgrave's approval. Before leaving, he expresses his love to Julia, and they have an impromptu marriage at the hospital's chapel. At Vatican City, the team successfully infiltrates the secured facility, and Ethan disguises himself as Davian after his capture. The team uses an explosive-rigged car to cover their escape and make Davian's bodyguards believe he is dead.

On the flight back to the United States, Davian wakes up and refuses to divulge what the Rabbit's Foot is, instead threatening to kill everyone Ethan holds dear; Ethan threatens to drop Davian out of the plane if he does not cooperate. After landing, the team travels with a convoy escorting Davian across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. En route, Luther receives the decoded message from the microdot, a video of Lindsay to Ethan warning him that Davian has received calls from Director Brassel's office and believes him to be a mole. The escort is suddenly attacked by an attack helicopter, and in the chaos, Davian is freed. Ethan suddenly worries for Julia's safety and races to the hospital, arriving too late to find she has been taken by one of Davian's agents. As Davian calls Ethan, giving him only 48 hours to recover the Rabbit's Foot for Julia's life, Ethan is captured by IMF for his rogue actions.

Ethan is secured to a gurney and interrogated about his unauthorized mission. Musgrave takes part, but allows Ethan to lip-read further instructions to travel to Shanghai,China where the Rabbit's Foot is located, and provides him with the means to escape IMF. Ethan makes his way to the instructed location, finding his team waiting for him, and they plan a raid of the building where the Rabbit's Foot is secured. Through a desperate car chase, Ethan is able to contact Davian just under the deadline that they have the Rabbit's Foot. Ethan goes to deliver the Rabbit's Foot alone, and is knocked unconscious by Davian's men, who implant a micro-explosive device in his head. As previously shown in the movie's cold opening, Ethan recovers to find Davian gloating over him while holding Julia at gunpoint. Despite Ethan asserting that that device is the real Rabbit's Foot, Davian kills Julia and then leaves, Ethan breaking down in tears.

Minutes later, Musgrave arrives, and explains to Ethan this was all a setup, revealing that "Julia" was Davian's incompetent translator (Bahar Soomekh) in a mask- the 'execution' having been faked to confirm that Ethan was telling the truth-, and Julia is nearby, alive. Musgrave reveals himself as the mole, arranging for Davian to acquire the Rabbit's Foot to sell to terrorist groups, after which IMF would have reasonable cause to launch a preemptive strike. Ethan escapes and steals Musgrave's phone, using it to contact Benji to track down a number Musgrave recently called, the likely location where Julia is being kept. Inside, Ethan finds Davian and his men waiting, and is able to kill them all, including Davian by throwing him in front of a oncoming truck, but not before they trigger the micro-explosive. Freeing Julia, he instructs her to electrocute him, killing him shortly but deactivating the explosive, from which she can revive him, as well as to protect herself with a gun. Julia follows Ethan's instructions, and while he recovers, is forced to shoot and kill Musgrave when he arrives. Julia successfully gives CPR to Ethan, reviving him, and they leave together as he explains his true IMF career to her.

Back home, Brassel congratulates Ethan, and suggests that there is another mission that Ethan has been requested for, but Ethan insists on going on his honeymoon with Julia and is unsure if he will return to the IMF. Brassel promises that he'll tell Ethan what the Rabbit's Foot is if Ethan will promise to return. Ethan smiles and walks off with Julia.



  • Director David Fincher (Fight Club, Se7en) was slated to direct M-I: III but dropped out in favor of another film.[2] Fincher was then replaced by Narc director Joe Carnahan, but he quit in a dispute over the film's tone.
  • Filming began in Rome, Italy in July 2005 and ended in October. Location filming took place in China (Shanghai and Xitang), Germany (Berlin), Italy (Rome and Caserta), the United States (California and Virginia), and Vatican City.
  • 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 LA Times opted to leave the audio players in the boxes until two days after the movie's opening.[3]
  • The night scenes involving the skyscrapers were filmed in Shanghai, while some of the Shanghai filming was also done in Los Angeles.[4]
  • Tom Cruise called J. J. Abrams offering a job as a director for the film after having binge-watched the first two seasons of Alias.[5]

"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.[6][7] These assertions were soon also reported by E! News and American Morning.[7][8] Fox News attributed threats from Tom Cruise, stating, "to back out of his Mission: Impossible III promotional duties if Viacom didn’t pull a repeat of the episode," as evidence of "bad blood" between Cruise and Viacom.[9] 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.[10] Melissa McNamara of CBS News later questioned whether this boycott hurt the Mission: Impossible III box office debut.[11] Even political blogger Andrew Sullivan encouraged a boycott of the movie, based on claims that Cruise allegedly forced Comedy Central to censor a South Park episode about Scientologists. "Make sure you don't go see Paramount's Mission: Impossible III, Cruise's upcoming movie," Sullivan wrote. "I know you weren't 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."[12]

When asked in ABC's 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. Here's the thing: I'm really not even going to dignify this. I honestly didn't really even know about it. I'm working, making my movie, I've got my family. I'm busy. I don't spend my days going, 'What are people saying about me?'"[13] A representative of Cruise had also denied any involvement of Cruise with the issue, specifically responding to allegations of Cruise's reputed corporate power play.[14]


Opening in 4,054 theaters all across the United States (the 4th largest opening ever), the film easily topped the box-office in its opening weekend. It made $16.6 million on its opening day. It made $47.7 million in its opening weekend, a solid opening yet well below industry expectations and almost $10 million lower than the franchise's previous installment. On its second weekend, the sequel remained number 1 with $25 million (ahead of Poseidon's $22.2 million). The movie remained in the Top 10 at the box office for the first 6 weeks of its release. Mission: Impossible III ended its domestic run with $134 million. It was the second movie in 2006 to pass the $100,000,000 mark in the box office. (The first was Ice Age: The Meltdown). The $134 million domestic run was significantly lower than that of Mission Impossible II and below most analysts' expectations[who?].

Outside of the USA, the sequel grossed $70 million for the first five days (in some Asian countries, Mission: Impossible III opened two days ahead of its North American release date) and was easily the box-office champion in many countries. As of February 11, 2007, M:I-III's international box office gross has reached $263.8 million, for a combined worldwide gross of $397.9 million, the lowest so far of the series.[15]

In the Netherlands, the film debuted in the week of May 4–10 at #1, grossing a total of 532,384 in that week. The following week, the film remained on the top position. In its third week, the film dropped to #2 and the following week, fell to #4. Next it maintained the #4 position to drop to #6 (in the week of June 6 - June 14). In total, the film has grossed over € 2,141,162.[16]

Critical reception

Mission: Impossible III received mostly positive reviews from critics. The film holds a 70% "Fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 217 reviews, the best rating of the trilogy, although the rating from selected top critics is 62% based on 42 reviews, in between the other two.[17] It holds a similar rating on Metacritic, with a score of 66% based on a normalized average of 38 reviews.[18]

On the television show Ebert & Roeper, Richard Roeper gave Mission: Impossible III a "thumbs up", while Roger Ebert gave it a marginal "thumbs down".[19] In Ebert's 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 don't much care." He felt "surprised that the plot hangs together more than in the other two films."[20]

Keith Phipps of The Onion's A.V. Club said the film is "business as usual, but it's the best kind of business as usual, and it finds everyone working in top form."[21] 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."[22] Marc Savlov of the Austin Chronicle said that "it's all poppycock, of course, but it's done with such vim and vigor and both narrative and visual flair that you care not a jot."[23] 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."[24]

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."[25] Manohla Dargis of The New York Times said that "Hoffman enlivens Mission: Impossible III" but criticized the film's "maudlin romance" and "Abrams's inability to adapt his small-screen talent to a larger canvas."[26] Rob Nelson of the Dallas Observer said that "Abrams's 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 [Mission: Impossible II director John] Woo's cartoon absurdities."[27]

Claudia Puig of USA Today said that "Mission: Impossible III delivers" despite "a sense that the franchise is played out and its star over-exposed."[28] Maitland McDonagh of TV Guide described the film as "breezy, undemanding, and a carefully balanced blend of the familiar and the not-quite-what-you-expected."[29] Lawrence Toppman of the Charlotte Observer said that Mission: Impossible III is "plenty of fun" despite being "overwrought and overplotted."[30]

Pete Vonder Haar of Film Threat said that "you may be mildly entertained, but damned if you’ll remember any of it five minutes later."[31] Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com said that "Cruise is the single bright, blinking emblem of the failure of Mission: Impossible III."[32] William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer remarked that "the latest [Mission: Impossible film] is just this side of insultingly stupid."[33] Shawn Levy of the Portland Oregonian said that Mission: Impossible III "feels like one of the more forgettable James Bond films—saddled, moreover, with a star who's sliding into self-parody."[34]



  1. ^ Snyder, Gabriel (March 12, 2006). "Summer survey". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117939593.html. Retrieved August 19, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Scarlett Aborts "Mission"". E! (Comcast). May 9, 2005. http://www.eonline.com/News/Items/0,1,16512,00.html. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Mission Illogical: Movie Promotion Puts Lives 'at Risk'". May 5, 2006. http://www.readjunk.com/news/movie/mission-illogical-movie-promotion-puts-lives-at-risk/. 
  4. ^ Seen in the behind-the-scenes section, included in the Mission Impossible III Limited DVD.
  5. ^ Seen in the behind-the-scenes section, included in the Mission Impossible III DVD.
  6. ^ Ebner, Mark (March 16, 2006). "Scientologist Tom Cruise Blackmails Viacom into Pulling the "Trapped in the Closet" Episode of South Park". Hollywood, Interrupted site. (Rudius Media). http://www.hollywoodinterrupted.com/archives/scientologist_tom_cruise_blackmails_viacom.phtml. 
  7. ^ a b Ryan, Joel (13 March 2006). ""The Closet," the Controversy--and Cruise". E! Online (Comcast). http://www.eonline.com/news//article/index.jsp?uuid=9495664b-650c-4ae8-8a37-5dbf15296d80&entry=index. Retrieved 2007-06-16. [dead link]
  8. ^ O'Brien, Soledad; John Roberts (March 21, 2006). "Storms Blanket Midwest; Insurgents Launch Full-Scale Attack on Iraqi Police". American Morning (CNN). http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0603/21/ltm.01.html. Retrieved 2007-10-21. 
  9. ^ Friedman, Roger (August 23, 2006). "Cruise Ambushed by 'Broke' Studio?". Fox News Channel (News Corporation). http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,209943,00.html. 
  10. ^ de Moraes, Lisa (March 23, 2006). "'South Park' Responds: Chef's Goose Is Cooked". The Washington Post: pp. Page C07. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/22/AR2006032202256.html. 
  11. ^ McNamara, Melissa (May 10, 2006). "Did Bloggers Doom 'M:i:III'?". CBS News (CBS Interactive Inc.). http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/05/09/blogophile/main1600758.shtml. Retrieved 2007-10-21. 
  12. ^ http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2006/03/cruise_control.html
  13. ^ "Cruise: 'No Oprah Regrets'". hollywood.com. 2006-04-16. http://www.hollywood.com/news/Cruise_No_Oprah_Regrets/3491532. Retrieved 2007-06-16. 
  14. ^ Nathan, Sara (2006-03-17). "Cruise axe for South Park". London: thesun.co.uk. http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2006020708,00.html. Retrieved 2006-11-04. 
  15. ^ Mission: Impossible III at Box Office Mojo Amazon.com Retrieved on 2010-01-01.
  16. ^ "Business Data for Mission: Impossible III". imdb. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0317919/business. Retrieved 2007-02-04. 
  17. ^ "Mission: Impossible III". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/mission_impossible_3/. Retrieved 2007-02-04. 
  18. ^ Mission: Impossible III, Metacritic
  19. ^ "Ebert & Roeper, Reviews for the Weekend of May 6–7, 2006". http://tvplex.go.com/buenavista/ebertandroeper/060508.html. Retrieved 2007-02-04. 
  20. ^ Roger Ebert. "Mission: Impossible III review"]. Chicago Sun-Times. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060504/REVIEWS/60419008.  2.5/4 stars
  21. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Keith Phipps, The A.V. Club, May 3rd, 2006
  22. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
  23. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle
  24. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, James Berardinelli, ReelViews 2.5/4 stars
  25. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Ian Nathan, Empire
  26. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
  27. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Rob Nelson, Dallas Observer
  28. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Claudia Puig, USA Today
  29. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Maitland McDonagh, TV Guide
  30. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Lawrence Toppman, Charlotte Observer
  31. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Pete Vonder Haar, Film Threat
  32. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com
  33. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, William Arnold, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
  34. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Shawn Levy, Portland Oregonian

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