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The "Mission: Impossible" Films

Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Mission: Impossible Films
Mission: Impossible (1996) | Mission: Impossible II (2000) | Mission: Impossible III (2006)
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)
| Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015) | Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018)

The "Mission: Impossible" Films - Part 3
Mission: Impossible III (2006)
d. J.J. Abrams, 126 minutes

Film Plot Summary

During the opening prologue (a fast-forward portion of a scene later in the film), malicious villain Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman) threatened IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), who was heard grimacing after the sound of a bang, and then told: "We've put an explosive charge in your head. Does that sound familiar? The Rabbit's Foot? Where is it?" Davian began counting to ten, threatening to kill terrified captive Julia (Michelle Monaghan) gagged near him, unless he revealed the location of the film's McGuffin, the Rabbit's Foot. On the count of four, Hunt told him it was located in Paris, but that wasn't believed as Ethan pled for mercy. At the count of ten, the ruthless Davian pulled the trigger and a gunshot was heard, setting in motion the ignited burning fuse typical of the start of the credits for all the Mission: Impossible films.

The next scene, set in his Norfolk, Virginia home, was during the festive engagement party of Ethan Hunt and fiancee Julia, a hospital nurse. Ethan claimed he had been working for the Department of Transportation for ten years studying traffic patterns (in reality, he was semi-retired as a trainer of IMF agents). The couple had met during a heli-boarding adventure, and were planning to repeat the experience on a three-week honeymoon. The couple's friends were astounded when Ethan answered a question directed at Julia about where they first met (Lake Wanaka) - revealing his ability to read lips.

Ethan received a phone call from "Ready-Travel Resort Services" - offering a chance to win an all-expense paid trip to Mexico - a cover for IMF. He slipped away from the party ostensibly to get more ice, and met IMF Operations Manager John Musgrave (Billy Crudup) in a nearby 7-Eleven. He was told about the newest mission: one of Ethan's former graduated trainees Agent Lindsey Farris (Keri Russell), his protege, was on assignment when she disappeared off the grid for 11 hours. Hunt initially declined to join the Search and Rescue for her, although he received a Kodak disposable camera and watched a video briefing report on the mission. Lindsey had been captured three days earlier during a surveillance operation while tracking psychopathic Owen Davian, an "extremely dangerous" black-market arms trafficker. It appeared that Davian was keeping hostage Lindsey in a warehouse outside Berlin: "Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find Lindsey and bring her home." A team had already been assembled, composed of helicopter pilot Declan Gormley (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), versatile and dazzingly glamorous expert Zhen Lei (Maggie Q), and computer programmer Luther Stickel (Ving Rhames). The camera self-destructed after five seconds.

Hunt left the next sunrise, telling his trusting fiancee he was going to Houston for a public transportation exposition. However, he met the IMF team at an airfield, and they flew to Berlin, Germany. During a nighttime assault of the warehouse, Stickel activated four computer-controlled guns from a control station inside a truck, counted fourteen workers/guards with infra-red surveillance equipment, and located hostage Farris on the 6th floor. She was drugged and surrounded by Davian's men. Bombs were detonated and Stickel fired the guns at the complex, as Ethan found Lindsey sedated. He injected her with adrenaline before they fled the building under siege. Both fired at the enemy before they evacuated successfully by dropping six floors onto the top of Stickel's truck and met up with a chopper flown by Gormley. When they were pursued by another helicopter in a field of power-generating windmills, Ethan discovered that an explosive, time-release capsule had been implanted into Lindsey's skull through her nasal cavity - it had recently been activated and was ready to detonate. At the same time that the pursuing helicopter collided with one of the windmill vanes, Ethan was unsuccessful in trying to "fry the charge" with a defibrillator. The capsule exploded and killed Lindsey only a few seconds before he could apply the charged defibrillator to save her.

Afterwards, Ethan's superior and the IMF Executive Director Theodore Brassel (Laurence Fishburne) chided Ethan about the failed mission to Berlin. He questioned Ethan's prior recommendations regarding young trainee agent Lindsey Farris and her ability to be engaged in "active field duty" -- in a failed surveillance mission. Hunt explained how their objective was only a limited one, to rescue Farris, not to capture any of Davian's men: "Davian employs a cellular structure at his organization," he noted, and that none of the dozen men there would have known about Davian's overall operation. Brassel criticized the operation planned by Musgrave as "poorly conceived and executed worse." The hard-drives in the damaged laptop computers taken from the warehouse were burned, scorched, and had holes - unsalvageable. Brassel described how they should have pursued the real villain - Davian: "He was the one who brought gas centrifuge technology to Korea from Pakistan...He was also the man who sold Toxin Five to the Armahad Republic Jihad. He is a man who provides, provides, provides. And he remains invisible. He's a god-damned invisible man....We can't find him. He knows it. It's emboldened him...You have reminded Davian that he is winning."

A funeral was held for Lindsey, who it was claimed had died in a head-on automobile accident on I-95. After the service, Ethan ("Mr. Kelvin") received a phone call from Norfolk Mail Service, notifying him of a piece of mail from Berlin sent by Lindsey to him through her post office box. He retrieved the piece of mail, a colorful postcard of Berlin with no message. He peeled off the stamp, discovering a blank microdot hidden behind it. Ethan and Luther discussed why she might have sent it -- Hunt surmised it might be magnetic (and encrypted), an old-school method. In the lab of IMF, nerdy technician Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) told Ethan and Luther that on the badly-damaged hard-drives of the laptops, he had recovered portions of two dozen e-mail files, with one "breakthrough" fact: "Mr. Davian is gonna arrive in Rome the day after tomorrow and attend a function at one Vatican City...It's all got to do with the 'Rabbit's Foot.'" The code-word possibly referred to "something he's about to sell to an unspecified buyer for $850 million" -- a very lucrative transaction involving a weapon code-named the 'Rabbit's Foot.' Benji then went into a long speculative explanation of its ominous doomsday meaning - it was maybe an apocalyptic, Anti-God compound: "It was like an accelerated mutator, a sort of, you know, like an unstoppable force of destructive power that would just lay waste to everything. To buildings and parks and streets and children and ice cream parlors, you know? So whenever I see, like, a rogue organization, willing to spend this amount of money on a mystery tech, I always assume it's the 'Anti-God'. End-of-the-world kinda stuff, you know." Ethan told him to keep his findings a secret, and decided to pursue Davian by himself, unofficially without authorization from either Musgrave or Brassel, prompting Stickel to worry: "That look in your eye is a pain in my ass."

Before engaging in the unauthorized black ops mission, Ethan met with Julia in her hospital work setting in the Washington DC area, telling her he was taking another two-day business trip. Sensing something wrong, she asked, with tears in her eyes: "What are you not telling me?" - he reassured her: "I need you to trust me." She replied that she did, and then responded: "Tell me it's real." The hospital chaplain married them at the hospital, with only one other person attending as they exchanged vows - and then later, kissed and undressed each other in another hospital room prior to love-making (off-screen).

Plans to kidnap Owen Davian in the Vatican City (in the middle of Rome) during a charity event were elaborately planned by the IMF team. Ethan was unphased by the complexity of the location, and enthused: "Getting Davian is good. But getting his buyers is even better." In Rome, Ethan scaled (literally by running up) the 60-foot Vatican City wall, momentarily knocking out the 24/7 CCTV camera mounted there and planting a fake picture of the environment, while alerting his team: "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall." He lowered himself on a cable into the Vatican compound, changed into a priest costume, and infiltrated into the high-tech security area. Gormley pretended to be a tourist at the Vatican and then changed into a security officer's uniform, while Stickel was scuba-diving in the sewer water toward the catacombs under the Vatican to blast an escape hole and meet up with Ethan. Zhen, posing as a guest attendee at the charity event, drove inside the courtyard in an orange sportscar, and after being allowed entry by Gormley at the outer gate (who revised the guest list) made a stunning entrance into the reception in a sexy, cut-out red dress. With a face mirror, she took a digital photo of Davian, and downloaded it to Stickel, who constructed a latex facial mask of his likeness for Ethan to wear. Zhen watched as Davian picked up a briefcase, and then deliberately bumped into him, spilling her red wine over his white tuxedo shirt, as he apologetically told her: "I always spill red wine on my white custom-made shirt." Davian's hulking bodyguard checked out the fancy ornate, marble-walled men's room before his boss entered to clean up. Ethan (as Davian) was poised there to enter through a vent, with Gormley to assist. When the real Davian went to the men's room to clean his shirt, he saw his double behind him. Ethan forced him at gunpoint to read a few sentences of text, to capture his voice imprint for the voice-changing disguiser device taped to his neck. The ploy worked, although there was a tense delay in uploading the voice-code to the tape, as Gormley held the unconscious Davian behind the bathroom door when a guard entered.

As the fake Davian (Ethan) left the reception, he was 'propositioned' by Zhen - she proposed to personally drive him to her hotel room while her laundry service cleaned his shirt. The real-Davian, knocked out, was lowered into the catacombs from the men's room to complete the successful abduction. The orange sportscar was driven from the reception area and momentarily parked above a marked sewer man-hole cover, where Zhen and "Davian" lowered themselves (with Stickel's help) into the sewer, to evade Davian's bodyguards and attendants. Then, they remotely blew up the car (Zhen: "Oh, it's such a nice car") to make it look as if Davian was killed. The team of four, with Davian, then escaped on a speedboat.

Brassel was notified by Musgrave (who falsely claimed that he knew of the operation) that Ethan and his team had successfully "grabbed" Owen Davian in Rome. On the trans-Atlantic flight, Ethan told Davian: "You're dead, Mr. Davian. There were witnesses." Hunt interrogated Davian, to attempt to learn the names of his organizations, contacts, inventory lists, and specifically the buyer of the top-secret code-named weapon 'Rabbit's Foot'. Davian countered by threatening to kill Hunt's wife: "I'm gonna find her, whoever she is. I'm gonna find her and I'm gonna hurt her...I'm gonna make her bleed, and cry, and call out your name. And you're not gonna be able to do s--t. Do you know why?...Because you're gonna be this close to dead....And then I'm gonna kill you right in front of her." The evil Davian called the death of agent Farris ("your little blonde friend at the factory") "fun - that was fun." Angered by Davian's conscience-less taunts, Ethan almost ejected the villain out of the belly of the plane in flight, but Stickel prevented him: "Stop, don't do it. This isn't you, man. This isn't you. We can use him, Ethan." Davian ominously added: "What I'm selling, and who I'm selling to, is the last thing you should be concerned about, Ethan."

After arriving in the US, Davian was transported in a convoy of vehicles across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Luther told Ethan that they had finally decoded Lindsey's microdot - it was a video file. Ethan viewed the message on Luther's laptop computer, about how Brassel was allegedly an internal mole. Lindsey spoke: "Brassel sent me to Germany to surveil an exchange, to ID a man named Owen Davian. I tagged his phone, and I intercepted a transmission. I traced the call through the IMF network, and this is what came up. The call to Davian came from Brassel's office. It's Brassel. I think he's working with Davian. I think I'm being set up." Suddenly, explosions from missiles fired from a UAV drone rocked the bridge behind and in front of their SUV vehicle, causing multiple car crashes and rollovers. Hunt and Stickel survived in their upturned truck, although they were soon fired upon by a helicopter rising up with armed foreign mercenaries. The killers then emerged on the bridge and extracted prisoner Davian from an armored van by melting its side. Ethan struggled to retrieve a powerful G36 machine gun from his truck, to retaliate with stronger firepower. He narrowly missed death when targeted by another missile fired by the drone. He valiantly fought back, destroying the drone plane, but could only watch helplessly as Davian was flown away in a helicopter.

Ethan feared for Julia's life when he learned that one of Davian's men was told by Julia's brother that she worked at the Virginia Regional Hospital. He sped from the devastated bridge scene in a stolen Mercedes-Benz, and enroute was unable to reach Julia by cellphone. When he arrived at the hospital, she had already been abducted in the hallway, and he didn't know that he had passed her, being wheeled out on a rolling stretcher, covered by a sheet and unconscious, and placed in an AMR vehicle. Davian called him on Julia's cellphone: "You hung me outside of an airplane. You can always tell someone's character by the way they treat those they don't need to treat well." Davian explained how his stolen briefcase had contained the location of the 'Rabbit's Foot'. He proposed a blackmailing deal within the next 48 hours - the Rabbit's Foot in exchange for the life of Julia: "You're gonna get it and bring it to me. The Rabbit's Foot....You have 48 hours starting on my mark....Julia's life for the Rabbit's Foot. You have 48 hours or she dies." Immediately, Ethan was surrounded by IMF vehicles, but desperate to rescue his wife, he fled on foot. He was apprehended with a stun gun and taken into custody at headquarters. A muzzled and bound Hunt strapped to a stretcher was accused by Brassel of numerous charges: for failing to report Farris' information, for ordering the Vatican operation without proper approvals, and for fleeing the "catastrophic attack" on the bridge. He was called an "irresponsible rogue agent" -- Brassel threatened: "You can look at me with those judgmental, incriminating eyes all you want, but I bulls--t you not. I will bleed on the flag to make sure the stripes stay red."

When Brassel left the room, Musgrave told Hunt that he tended to agree with Brassel: "Brassel's right. You're out of control." In a masterful stroke, however, he mouthed words to Hunt (who was capable of lip-reading) to support him: "I intercepted Davian's call. I know he wants the Rabbit's Foot for Julia's life." He continued out-loud: "This is so disappointing." Further instructions were given silently: "Go to Shanghai. Feng Shan Apartments -- 1406." He then said: "I wish there was something I could do to help you, but...take him to the holding cell." He slipped a Swiss army knife into Ethan's hand that soon allowed Ethan to incapacitate and evade three men taking him down a cargo elevator to a holding cell. He escaped through the elevator ceiling, climbed up an elevator cable, and sent a message on the jammed security channel, in Brassel's voice, to divert security personnel from his real escape route.

Donning a disguise as spectacled Czech Pavel Sobotka, Ethan arranged for a flight to Shanghai, where he later appeared in the Feng Shan Apartments, at unit 1406. He picked the lock on the door, and soon after, his trio of team members reunited with him there, tipped off by Musgrave: "Musgrave told us about Julia. We're here to help." Their goal was to steal the Rabbit's Foot from a laboratory on the 56th floor of the heavily-fortified Hengshan Lu Building, where surveillance cameras were everywhere. It would be a difficult task - "They're a Chinese military contractor. We have no pull, no details....From a thief's point-of-view, this is worst-case scenario" - all the security guards were privately-contracted members, formerly of the People's Liberation Army, and access to the impenetrable lab was only by private elevator (activated solely by persons inside the lab). There were four guards, full-time, two on each rooftop. Stickel added (referring to the first film): "Langley was a cakewalk compared to this." Ethan's dangerous plan was to swing from an adjacent taller building onto the rooftop, and exit by base-jumping off the roof with a chute, although it was only 162 meters tall. Stickel reminded Ethan: "We don't even know what this thing is, and you're talking about handing it over to a guy who provides terrorists with information." Ethan planned to tag the Rabbit's Foot, in order to trace it, and later grab Davian with Musgrave's and IMF's support, while hoping: "If I get out with Julia, we win." He noted that they had only two hours to rescue his wife before she was killed.

With support from his team, Ethan managed to carry out the plan, as scheduled, although he had only 18 minutes to pull it off. A mechanized pitching machine hurled baseballs at the building's roof to cause a diversion, as Ethan jumped off the adjacent building, swung across on a cable, dropped onto the sloped roof, shot and killed two security guards, and managed to hold onto the gutter to avoid sliding off the edge of the roof. Even Stickel announced: "I knew he'd make it." With only five minutes left, Ethan gave a distress call to his team members, and then crashed out of a window halfway down the side of the building, rather than exiting from the roof. His chute wouldn't deploy because it was dangerously low, and he crashed back into the building where a surprised janitor was working. The gusty wind caught the parachute and dragged him back out of the window - he ended dangling upside-down in the middle of busy street traffic. As he chased after the Rabbit's Foot rolling down the street, in a sealed canister, he had to evade a jack-knifing tanker and other cars. The team's van picked him up while he was pursued by several other vehicles with security personnel firing machine-guns, and he leaned out of the van - almost parallel to the pavement, to shoot at and puncture their tires. With only five seconds to spare, he acquired a cellphone signal and called Davian - to report that he had secured the Rabbit's Foot, and to learn about the established meeting place. He was instructed to come alone to the the train yard at Dunan Zhong Lu. On the way, Ethan phoned Musgrave at IMF, notifying him that the Rabbit's Foot was tagged (6-3-9-6-5-1) and traceable. Suspicious of his actions, Brassel confronted Musgrave about his order to send a team to the Far East - Ethan's team - allegedly because of the arrival of terrorist Hadaam Saleen Bahar in Shanghai.

As dawn approached, Ethan was waiting by himself at the train yard, when a white stretch limousine arrived. In the vehicle, the driver (the man who had abducted Julia in the hospital) ordered Ethan: "Drink it, no questions." The substance was a knock-out substance, and when he awoke, an explosive charge was injected into Ethan's brain through his nasal cavity. The scene following repeated the one in the film's prologue, where he and Julia were both bound in chairs, with Davian threatening to kill captive Julia if he was not told the location of the Rabbit's Foot before the count of ten. [Upon their return to the US, Ethan's trio of team members were apprehended by Brassel.] Ethan kept insisting that he had delivered the object. After the count of ten, Davian fired his gun at Julia's head and executed her, and then revealed to traitorous Musgrave (who suddenly appeared): "I pushed him as far as he can go. I know he's not lying." Musgrave explained to Ethan: "It's complicated. You can't just open the canister. We had to make sure you brought the real thing. The Rabbit's Foot. Now we know." Musgrave then pulled off Julia's latex mask to reveal the face of Davian's dead translator, his incompetent Head of Security from Vatican City: "Remember? At the Vatican she failed him." Julia was still alive, to Ethan's utmost relief - she hadn't seen Musgrave and was unaware of the situation: "Davian wanted to kill you both, but I convinced him otherwise. Julia hasn't seen me. She doesn't know anything. She's clean. She can go on to have a life."

Musgrave wanted to know what was in Lindsey's message in the microdot, asking whether his set-up of Brassel was effective: "Did Lindsey know about me and Davian?...Did anyone else see it? Did she know about the work I was doing? Could I be compromised at IMF?...Did she buy that Brassel set her up? Did she buy that?" Ethan realized that Musgrave had told Davian about Lindsey and set her up to be killed, not Brassel. Musgrave continued about how he was retaliating against "sanctimonious" IMF Executive Director Brassel -- an "affirmative action poster boy," and wanted to take over his job. He described how he had used and collaborated with bad guy Davian, at the center of the conspiracy, to sell the valuable McGuffin object to the US' enemies in the Middle East: "In 18 hours, the Rabbit's Foot will be delivered to its Middle Eastern buyer, and we'll have credible intel to prove it." Once the US Security Council received the report of the delivery about six hours later, he predicted a "military strike within a week. And when the sand settles, our country will do what it does best. Clean up. Infrastructure. Democracy wins." Musgrave anticipated that the Middle East would attack, resulting in massive US retaliation in the region, and that he would be rich. He promised that if he was told the content of Lindsey's message in the microdot video (hoping that his own name was cleared), Julia would live.

To confirm that Julia was alive, Ethan asked to speak to her on Musgrave's cellphone. When the phone was held up to Ethan's ear (and she knew the name of an obscure lake, Lake Wanaka where they had first met, affirming her identity), he bit Musgrave's hand, stabbed him, picked his handcuffs locks, and stole the cellphone. He then spoke to IMF lab technician Benji to trace the last call location on the cellphone in order to track Julia - finding her in a building one mile to the northeast of his present location. Benji led him to the signal's location through a maze of streets and dwellings along the waterfront, where he found Julia in a small medical clinic after eliminating her two bodyguards. As Ethan was releasing Julia, Davian activated the explosive charge in Ethan's head (allowing him only four minutes to live) - rendering him incapacitated and defenseless. Although he was savagely beaten, thrown around and kicked, and both Ethan and Julia were about to be killed, Ethan struck back and threw Davian through a street-level doorway/window - the villain was killed when run over by a truck. Ethan was saved under Davian's body, low enough to be clear of the truck's under-carriage. He quickly released Julia from her bindings (and hurriedly instructed her how to load and reload a Baretta weapon, and defend herself against any other enemies), while he looked for a way to deactivate the bomb in his head. When he couldn't find a defibrillator, he loosened power cables and electrocuted himself, with Julia's help to pull the switch. As he lay seemingly shocked to death on the floor, Julia killed one guard, and then reloaded in readiness for Musgrave's attack - she was able to successfully "point and shoot" against him and stay low to kill him, as taught. When Musgrave fell dead, the Rabbit's Foot dropped to the floor from the case but did not crack open. She administered CPR to Ethan and resuscitated him (partially in slow-motion).

As they walked arm in arm down the waterway, with Ethan carrying the Rabbit's Foot in the small case, she asked for him to explain why they were in China. He finally told her the truth about his top-secret occupation: "I work for an agency. It's called IMF...Impossible Mission Force," but she didn't believe him. Back at IMF headquarters, Brassel apologized and then congratulated Hunt for his work, and then told him about another job the White House wanted to speak to him about. Hunt was contemplating possibly quitting, or more importantly, thinking about his upcoming honeymoon: "I'm considering going on my honeymoon." He then asked: "The Rabbit's Foot, what is it?" Brassel replied: "Promise me you'll stay, I'll tell you." Hunt answered: "I'll send you a postcard." Brassel responded: "Fair enough." The team members bid them goodbye and applauded them as the couple left for their honeymoon.

Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)

The third film in the loosely TV-based blockbuster franchise-series of sequels.

With a production budget of $150 million, and box-office gross receipts of $134 million (domestic) and $398 million (worldwide). This was the lowest-grossing film of the first four films in the series.

With no Academy Awards Oscar nominations.

With the third new director (for the third film in the series).

A film with an exciting plot twist similar to James Cameron's True Lies (1994), in which agent Hunt hid his identity from his wife, who was inadvertently dragged into the action by kidnapping, and needed to be saved.

Set-pieces: the rescue mission of agent Farris in a German warehouse followed by a helicopter pursuit sequence in a field of windmills, the kidnapping/capture of Davian during the Vatican City reception in Rome (including the making of a facial mask and voice-tape), the drone/helicopter siege attack on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the infiltration of a Shanghai high-rise lab building (via death-defying jump) to steal the Rabbit's Foot and the subsequent car chase, and Ethan's footrace to Julia's location to save her in the final shoot-out/confrontation.

Ethan Hunt
(Tom Cruise)

Julia Meade/Hunt
(Michelle Monaghan)

IMF Operations Manager
John Musgrave
(Billy Crudup)

Owen Davian
(Philip Seymour Hoffman)

Agent Lindsey Farris
(Keri Russell)

Declan Gormley
(Jonathan Rhys-Meyers)

Zhen Lei
(Maggie Q)

Luther Stickel
(Ving Rhames)

IMF Executive Director
Mr. Theodore Brassel
(Laurence Fishburne)

Benji Dunn
(Simon Pegg)

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