Three films in and there still isn't a fixed idea of who or what Ethan Hunt should be. The differences aren't just subtle reworkings of a central spy conceit, each Hunt hails from a completely different action subgenre. Brian De Palma's film offered an anxious playmaker called up to the plate, while John Woo's stab strayed into the kind of psychic superheroics you'd expect to find in some slurry manga from the 1970s. Mission: Impossible III diverges again, offering a retired Zen master dragged out of his suburban life to settle a score.
After two mixed attempts to invoke an auteur orientated OO7, Producer Cruise settles for the brisk efficiency of television, hiring JJ Abrams to deliver a supernaturally expensive Alias finale. Actor Cruise struggles to right his derailing career by channelling the film's drama into something more understandable - a beleaguered husband must rescue his nice, pretty wife. While Tom's too busy pretending to be a normal guy, Philip Seymour Hoffman hijacks the film with a barbaric performance as a black market trader.
Owen Davian is a red-headed ogre, the physical and emotional antithesis of the boring fallen spies Hunt has so far faced. Davian has the body of a barrel-shaped primitive. What we mistake for weight and complacency is actually indicative of a human-sized brick. Davian's revenge isn't an attempt to get one over on the arrogant Hunt either. The businessman simply wants to damage the spy so personally, so thoroughly, that Hunt will never dare fuck with Davian's bottom line ever again.