I went to see "Mission: Impossible III" on Saturday, and while the movie was okay on the whole, its chief entertainment value for me lay in cataloguing its many similarities to my late lamented "Alias." They share a screenwriting team and a director, so this isn't plagiarism -- either J. J. being a little lazy or the man can't help himself:
- Beginning a moment of high tension, then the credit sequence, then flashing back to three days before the moment of high tension
- A party sequence where Our Spy Hero has to lie awkwardly to the normal people about his supposedly boring job
- Greg Grunberg!
- Multiple exotic locations identified by on-screen text
- An overly talky tech guy whose digressions make everyone look befuddled
- A deep-voiced, square-jawed African-American man in power
- A scene in a gray, windowed conference room where the agent gets dressed down for going beyond his responsibilities
- A flashback where a female operative has to assemble a gun blindfolded
- A gorgeous female operative wearing a stunning dress at a swanky party has to do something awkward and embarrassing with the villain to buy time for the spy mission
- A nerdy but well-respected character actor playing the villain
- A MacGuffin with a pretentious code name (though "Rabbit's Foot" pales next to "The Covenant," "The Passenger," etc.)
- An extremely painful scene with Our Spy Hero strapped in what appears to be a dentist's chair
- Explosive capsules ticking away in people's brains
- Much jumping out of windows
- Much identity switching
- A chase through a poor area in an Asian country with lots of people going about their daily business getting in the way of Our Spy Hero's progress
- The stakes are personal rather than moral -- that is, we care because Our Spy Hero's _Insert Relative Here_ is going to _Insert Suffering Here_, not because the world will come to an end
- Deeply untrustworthy handlers, so "He's working for the very people he thought he was fighting against!"
And of course . . . The actor who plays Our Spy Hero is married to another celebrity; has been given a joint nickname with that spouse; has a new baby daughter with an unusual name; and, when s/he smiles, seems to have more than the standard number of gleaming white teeth.