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May 08, 2006 - Image 9

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2006-05-08

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Monday
May 8, 2006
arts.michigandaily.com
artspage@michigandaily.com

Ale TidSigan tilg

NEVER SAY NEVER
THIRD IMPOSSIBLE MISSION TURNS
OUT MILDLY PLAUSIBLE
By Chris Gaerig that you shell out $9 to see every
Associate Arts Editor time he releases another wallet-
bursting blockbuster. And he's had
F rLM _EV _W_ his fair share of them.
Cruise is one of the better actors
Let's get something out of the way: of this generation. He can play nearly
It doesn't matter what you think about any role and does so frequently: sci-
Tom Cruise and fi thrillers ("War of the Worlds"),
his personal life, romantic comedies ("Jerry Magu-
because it's his Mission: ire"), action films ("Top Gun"),
acting you pay Impossible III mind-boggling dramas ("Vanilla
to see. Cruise At the Showcase Sky") and even the occasional bad
has faced an and Quality 16 guy ("Collateral"). The list of films
unthinkable Paramount goes on, and his performances never
amount of criti- waver. Besides, Cruise might be the
cism for a wave greatest movie star (not to be con-
of questionable decisions and out- fused with actor) of this generation:
landish remarks. the flashy, hard-working hero that
Did he get on top of Oprah's everyone loves - or at least until his
couch on national television, jump recent outbursts.
up and down like a three-year-old And now as he returns to his
and scream about how in love he movie dynasty, "Mission: Impos-
was? Sure, but he is marrying a sible," another stellar performance
gorgeous woman nearly 20 years is on display in J.J. Abrams's "Mis-
younger than him. This puts Cruise sion: Impossible III." It's not only
in the running for hero of middle the best in the series but also one of
aged men everywhere. It looks like his best films in years.
he's in the clear on this one. Ethan Hunt (Cruise), the brash,
Did he go on the "Today" show with die-hard IMF (Impossible Mission
Matt Lauer and say he knew the effects Force) agent from the first two films,
(or lack thereof) of chemical-balanc- has settled down and found himself
ing drugs like Ritalin and the history a wife and a white picket fence (it
of psychology (a science his religion, should be noted that Hunt's wife, Julia
Scientology, doesn't recognize)? Yes. Hunt [Michelle Monaghan, "Mr. And
But really, who cares? Celebrities say Mrs. Smith"] looks eerily like Katie
dumb shit all the time. Holmes). Hunt has chosen to train
In any case, it's Cruise's acting incoming agents until his star pupil is

Oprah's couch had more spring than Tom anticipated.

caught tracking Owen Davian (Phil-
ip Seymour Hoffman, "Capote"),
an international arms dealer. Hunt
is forced to go back into the field to
recover the lost agent.
But things go awry. Davian gets
free after a remarkable capture, it
surfaces that there's a mole in the
IMF - Hunt seems to get accused
of this a lot (see: "M:I")- and
Julia is captured. Impossible mis-
sion, right? Not for Hunt, who goes
on a love-fueled mission to save his
wife and set things right in the IMF.
Sure, it's the same storyline made

a third time, but "M:I-3" is much
more accessible, easy to follow and
thoughtful than its predecessors.
What might be most interesting
about "M:I-3" is that the antagonist
doesn't have an accent: In other words,
he's American. In a society flooded
with xenophobia and contempt for for-
eigners, it's easy and all too common to
find a foreigner and create a convincing
bad guy. But Hoffman plays one of the
most sadistic enemies in recent memory
without this crutch. His calm, maniacal
character chills spines with slow speech
and composed thoughts. His casual,

everyman feel - his "Americanness"
if you will-is terrifying.
Aside from Cruise and Hoffman's
monumental performances, the other
characters are simply role-players dish-
ing out witty humor and fast answers to
the point where the plot seems rushed
and solutions are brought around much
too quickly by the supporting cast.
But even with the oft-too-fast
speed of the film and Cruise's
declining public image, "M:I-3" is
this summer's first great popcorn
movie: a spot Cruise is anything
but stranger to.

'Felicity' star returns to big screen in 'M:I-3'

By Imran Syed
Daily Arts Writer
What is it like to do all those electrifying
stunts in a big summer blockbuster like "Mis-
sion: Impossible III?"
Keri Russell - best known for her work on
TV's "Felicity" - recently got to find out along-
side none other than Tom Cruise, and she makes
no attempt to hide the fact that, above all else,
it's hard work.
"This is literally the way they explain it:
'OK, we're going to harness you into Tom.
You're going to jump out of this window, land
on a van and, as soon as the van gets six inches
away from the building, it's going to explode.
So listen, if your hair catches on fire, don't let
go of the van because you will fall off,"' she
said. "And I think, OK, great, thank you so
much. Should I call anyone and tell them I love
them before that happens?"
Luckily for Russell, not only did she survive
her jump, she also loved the entire experience of
working on the film.
"When you think of a big Hollywood movie,

it doesn't get much bigger than this - as far as
budget and stunts and craziness going on."
Growing up in Mesa, Ariz. and then Boulder,
Col., Russell said she didn't always plan on being an
actress - she thought she would be a dancer.
But after getting her start on TV's "The
Mickey Mouse Club," Russell went on to act
and, after making a number of guest appear-
ances on television, landed the celebrated role
of Felicity Porter.
At the helm of "Felicity" was J.J. Abrams
(TV's "Alias"), who makes his directorial
debut with "Mission: Impossible Ill" and is
cited by Russell as most responsible for draw-
ing her into the film.
"I'm so kind of like a kindred spirit with
him," she said. "I just get his voice ... He's just
so good at writing people as real and funny and
heartbreaking."
In the film, Russell -- whose screen cred-
its also include "We Were Soldiers" alongside
Mel Gibson and "The Upside of Anger" with
Joan Allen and Kevin Costner - plays Agent
Lindsey Ferris, a promising novice who trained
under Ethan Hunt (Cruise). Of the experience

of working with accomplished stars like Cruise,
recent Academy Award winner Philip Seymour
Hoffman ("Capote") and Laurence Fishburne
("The Matrix"), Russell has only the fondest
memories.
"They were so welcoming," she said. "Phil is
like the greatest guy ever, and Tom is so gener-
ous and included everyone. It was an amazing
experience, once in a lifetime," she said.
But was it challenging for an ex-WB girl to
make the transition to an all-out action film?
"Oh, there are so many," Russell said of her
most difficult stunt. "I would say the training
segments were the hardest. Having to assemble
a machine gun blindfolded within 30 seconds -
(for) which my best time was 13, by the way."
But why do all the stunts'? Russell says it
was her co-star's influence.
"Tom does all his own stunts and loves
doing them - if the close-up is on him, then
I have to be there too when he's jumping off
of buildings or whatever," she said. "But that
was part of the fun - that's why you want to
do a movie like this."
And Russell's verdict on the film? While

"You heard Katie and I broke up, right?"
avoiding comparisons to the first two, she said
she believes it is spectacular.
"This is the first movie that I've been a part of
that I actually saw for the first time and thought
it was awesome," she said. "I was like 'This is
the coolest thing ever, and I can't believe I'm in
it.' So if that's any indication."

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