Mission: Impossible III

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Mission: Impossible III
Mission Impossible III.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by J. J. Abrams
Produced by Tom Cruise
Paula Wagner
Screenplay by Alex Kurtzman
Roberto Orci
J. J. Abrams
Based on Mission Impossible 
by Bruce Geller
Starring Tom Cruise
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Ving Rhames
Billy Crudup
Michelle Monaghan
Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Keri Russell
Maggie Q
Laurence Fishburne
Music by Michael Giacchino
Lalo Schifrin (Themes)
Cinematography Dan Mindel
Edited by Maryann Brandon
Mary Jo Markey
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • May 5, 2006 (2006-05-05) (US)
Running time
125 minutes (2 hours 5 minutes)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $150 million[1]
Box office $397,850,012 (worldwide)

Mission: Impossible III (marketed as M:i:III, M:I-3, or Mission: Impossible 3) is a 2006 American action spy film co-written and directed by J.J. Abrams, his first film as a director, starring Tom Cruise, who also served as a producer, in the role of IMF agent Ethan Hunt. The film was first released on April 26, 2006, at the Tribeca Film Festival, and widely released in the United States on May 5, 2006. The film was a box office success, and it received mostly positive critical reviews.[2] The film is the third installment of the Mission: Impossible film series and was preceded by Mission: Impossible II (2000) and followed by Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011) and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015).

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has retired from field work for the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) and trains new recruits. Ethan is sent back into action to track down the elusive arms dealer Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman).


Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has retired from active field work for the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) and instead trains new recruits while settling down with his fiancée Julia Meade (Michelle Monaghan), a nurse at a local hospital who is unaware of Ethan's past. Ethan is approached by fellow IMF agent John Musgrave (Billy Crudup) about a mission for him: rescue one of Ethan's protégés, Lindsey Farris (Keri Russell), who was captured while investigating arms 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), in Berlin, Germany.

The team raids the warehouse where Lindsey is kept. They rescue Lindsey and collect two laptop computers during their escape. As they flee on a helicopter, Ethan discovers a micro-explosive implanted in Lindsey's head. Before Ethan can use a defibrillator to disable the device, it kills her. Ethan and Musgrave are reprimanded by IMF director Theodore Brassel (Laurence Fishburne). Ethan learns that Lindsey mailed him a postcard before her capture, and discovers a magnetic microdot under the stamp.

IMF technician Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) recovers enough from the damaged laptops to determine that Davian will be in Vatican City to obtain a mysterious object called the "Rabbit's Foot". Ethan plans the mission to capture Davian without seeking Brassel's or Musgrave's approval. Before leaving, he and Julia have an impromptu wedding at the hospital's chapel. The team successfully infiltrates Vatican City and captures Davian.

On the flight back to the United States, Davian threatens to kill Ethan and his loved ones. Ethan then threatens to drop Davian out of the plane, during which Davian overhears Luther calling Ethan by his first name. After landing, Ethan learns that the microdot contains a video of Lindsey warning that she believes Brassel is working with Davian. The convoy taking Davian across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is suddenly attacked, and Davian escapes. Fearing for Julia's safety, Ethan races to the hospital, only to find that she has already been taken. Davian calls Ethan to give him 48 hours to recover the Rabbit's Foot in exchange for Julia's life, but Ethan is soon captured by IMF.

Musgrave takes part in Ethan's interrogation, but discreetly mouths that the Rabbit's Foot is located in Shanghai, China, and provides Ethan with the means to escape IMF. Ethan and his team raid the building where the Rabbit's Foot is secured, and inform Davian that they have the Rabbit's Foot. Ethan goes to deliver the Rabbit's Foot alone, and is forced to take a tranquilizer. After he comes to, a micro-explosive is implanted in his head. The restrained Ethan sees Davian apparently holding Julia at gunpoint (the full scene opens the movie). Despite Ethan asserting that he brought the real Rabbit's Foot, Davian apparently kills Julia and leaves.

Musgrave then arrives and explains to Ethan that the woman killed by Davian was not Julia, but Davian's head of security (Bahar Soomekh) in a mask — the execution carried out for failing to protect Davian in Vatican City, and the mask was used in order to force Ethan to confirm the authenticity of the Rabbit's Foot — and that the real Julia is alive. Musgrave reveals himself as the mole, having arranged for Davian to acquire the Rabbit's Foot to sell to terrorist groups, after which IMF would have reason to launch a preemptive strike. Musgrave then asks Ethan about the microdot Lindsey sent, wanting to know if Lindsay had compromised him at IMF. In order to convince Ethan to co-operate, Musgrave dials his phone for Ethan to hear Julia's voice to confirm she is alive. Ethan then bites on Musgrave's hand and knocks him unconscious, freeing himself and using Musgrave's phone (with Benji's help) to track down the location of Musgrave's last call. Ethan finds Davian and pushes him into the path of a truck, but not before Davian triggers the countdown of the micro-explosive. Freeing Julia, he instructs her to electrocute him in order to deactivate the explosive, and then revive him. He also instructs her in using a gun for her protection. While attempting to revive Ethan, Julia shoots and kills Musgrave. Julia successfully revives Ethan, and he explains his true IMF career to her as they leave.

Back in the US, Brassel congratulates Ethan as he leaves for his honeymoon with Julia. Ethan is unsure if he will return to the IMF. Brassel promises that he will tell Ethan what the Rabbit's Foot is if Ethan will promise to return. Ethan smiles and walks off with Julia.




"I think the problem with third movies is the people who are financing them are experts on how they should be made and what they should be. At that point, when you own a franchise like that, you want to get rid of any extraneous opinions."

—David Fincher, on contributing to a film series[3]

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.[4] Fincher, however, dropped out in favor of another film,[5] later citing creative differences over the direction of the series.[3] Replacing Fincher was director Joe Carnahan, who worked on developing the film for 15 months.[6] Under his involvement, the film was to feature "Kenneth Branagh playing a guy who's based on Timothy McVeigh," as well as Carrie-Anne Moss and Scarlett Johansson in other roles.[7] Thandie Newton was offered to reprise her role as Nyah Nordoff-Hall from Mission: Impossible II; she declined, however.

After a dispute over the film's tone, Carnahan quit in July 2004.[5] Tom Cruise then called J.J. Abrams, offering the directorial role for the film after having binge-watched the first two seasons of Alias.[8] Abrams ultimately signed on, with production delayed a year due to his contractual obligations with Alias and Lost.[9] During this time, Branagh, Moss, and Johansson departed from the project because of the many delays in production.[5][10] On June 8, 2005, Paramount Pictures gave the film the green-light after a new cast of actors was hired and the film's budget was redeveloped, with Cruise taking a major pay cut.[10]


Principal photography began in Rome, Italy on July 18, 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. The night scenes involving the skyscrapers were filmed in Shanghai, while some of the Shanghai filming was also done in Los Angeles.[8]


The film's 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 Varèse Sarabande Records. Unlike the previous installments, no soundtrack album featuring the film's contemporary music was released. Despite this, the film features a song by Kanye West entitled "Impossible" that also features Twista and Keyshia Cole.[11]



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 movie's opening.[12]

"Trapped in the Closet" controversy[edit]

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.[13][14] These assertions were soon also reported by E! News and American Morning.[14][15] 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.[16] 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.[17] Melissa McNamara of CBS News later questioned whether this boycott hurt the Mission: Impossible III box office debut.[18] 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."[19]

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?'"[20] 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.[21]


Box office[edit]

Opening in 4,054 theaters all across the United States,[22] the fourth largest opening ever up to that point,[23] 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,[22] a solid opening yet almost $10 million lower than the franchise's previous installment.[24] The film remained at number one with $25 million during its second weekend, ahead of Poseidon '​s gross of $22.2 million.[22] The movie remained in the Top 10 at the box office for the remainder of its first six weeks of release.[22] Mission: Impossible III ended its initial domestic run on July 20, 2006, taking in a total of $134 million.[22] It was the second movie in 2006 to pass the $100,000,000 mark in the box office, following Ice Age: The Meltdown.[citation needed] The $134 million domestic run was significantly lower than that of Mission Impossible II,[22] as well as box office analysts' expectations.[who?][citation needed]

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.[22] 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.[22]

In the Netherlands, the film debuted in the week of May 4–10 at No. 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 No. 2 and the following week, fell to No. 4. 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.[25]

Critical response[edit]

Mission: Impossible III received positive reviews from critics. The film holds a 70% "Fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes, with an average of 6.6, based on 218 reviews, the second best rating of the four films.[26] It holds a similar rating on Metacritic, with an average score of 66/100, indicating "generally favorable reviews", based on a normalized average of 38 reviews.[2]

On the television show Ebert & Roeper, Richard Roeper gave Mission: Impossible III a "thumbs up", while Roger Ebert gave it a marginal "thumbs down".[27] 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."[28]

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."[29] 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."[30] 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."[31] 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."[32]

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."[33] 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."[34] 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."[35]

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."[36] 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."[37] Lawrence Toppman of The Charlotte Observer said that Mission: Impossible III is "plenty of fun" despite being "overwrought and overplotted."[38]

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."[39] Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com said that "Cruise is the single bright, blinking emblem of the failure of Mission: Impossible III."[40] William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer remarked that "the latest [Mission: Impossible film] is just this side of insultingly stupid."[41] 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 who's sliding into self-parody."[42]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Snyder, Gabriel (March 12, 2006). "Summer survey". Variety. Retrieved August 19, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Mission: Impossible III, Metacritic.
  3. ^ a b Horowitz, Josh (January 7, 2008). "David Fincher Discusses Reunion With Brad Pitt, Possible 'Fight Club' Musical". MTV News. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Fincher in frame for Mission: Impossible 3". The Guardian. April 12, 2002. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c "Scarlett Aborts "Mission"". E! Online. May 9, 2005. 
  6. ^ Davis, Erik (February 4, 2013). "Watch: Joe Carnahan on Hollywood A-Holes, Ugly Budgets and Filming Himself Quitting 'Mission: Impossible III'". Movies.com. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Joe Carnahan: "My 'Mission: Impossible' Was Better"". Hollywood.com. April 4, 2007. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b The Making of the Mission (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment. 2006. 
  9. ^ Foreman, Liza (August 12, 2004). "Cruise halts ‘Mission 3’ for Spielberg film". NBC News. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Susman, Gary (June 8, 2005). "War of the Wallets". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Kanye West's Mission Impossible". IGN. February 8, 2006. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Mission Illogical: Movie Promotion Puts Lives 'at Risk'". May 5, 2006. 
  13. ^ Ebner, Mark (March 16, 2006). "Scientologist Tom Cruise Blackmails Viacom into Pulling the "Trapped in the Closet" Episode of South Park". Hollywood, Interrupted. 
  14. ^ a b Ryan, Joel (13 March 2006). ""The Closet," the Controversy--and Cruise". E! Online. Retrieved 2007-06-16. [dead link]
  15. ^ O'Brien, Soledad; John Roberts (March 21, 2006). "Storms Blanket Midwest; Insurgents Launch Full-Scale Attack on Iraqi Police". American Morning. Retrieved 2007-10-21. 
  16. ^ Friedman, Roger (August 23, 2006). "Cruise Ambushed by 'Broke' Studio?". Fox News Channel. 
  17. ^ de Moraes, Lisa (March 23, 2006). "'South Park' Responds: Chef's Goose Is Cooked". The Washington Post. p. C07. 
  18. ^ McNamara, Melissa (May 10, 2006). "Did Bloggers Doom 'M:i:III'?". CBS News. Retrieved 2007-10-21. 
  19. ^ http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2006/03/cruise_control.html
  20. ^ "Cruise: 'No Oprah Regrets'". hollywood.com. 2006-04-16. Retrieved 2007-06-16. 
  21. ^ Nathan, Sara (2006-03-17). "Cruise axe for South Park". The Sun (London). Retrieved 2006-11-04. [dead link]
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h Mission: Impossible III at Box Office Mojo Retrieved on 2010-01-01.
  23. ^ "Movies With the Widest Openings at the Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-09-25. 
  24. ^ "Mission: Impossible Movies Opening Weekends". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 4, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Business Data for Mission: Impossible III". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-02-04. 
  26. ^ "Mission: Impossible III". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2007-02-04. 
  27. ^ "Ebert & Roeper, Reviews for the Weekend of May 6–7, 2006". Retrieved 2007-02-04. 
  28. ^ Roger Ebert (May 4, 2006). "Mission: Impossible III review". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  29. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Keith Phipps, The A.V. Club, May 3, 2006
  30. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly.
  31. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Marc Savlov, The Austin Chronicle.
  32. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, James Berardinelli, ReelViews.
  33. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Ian Nathan, Empire.
  34. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Manohla Dargis, The New York Times.
  35. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Rob Nelson, Dallas Observer.
  36. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Claudia Puig, USA Today.
  37. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Maitland McDonagh, TV Guide
  38. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Lawrence Toppman, The Charlotte Observer.
  39. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Pete Vonder Haar, Film Threat
  40. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Stephanie Zacharek, Salon
  41. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, William Arnold, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
  42. ^ Mission: Impossible III review, Shawn Levy, The Oregonian.

External links[edit]