Instead of concentrating on visual grace, Abrams injects ever more adrenaline into the stunts and action scenes. When the approach works—and it does, more often than not—viewers will forget about the convoluted plot, with its agency moles, expertly made face masks (again) and unclear motives of the villain. By the time “M:I3” circles back to its opening sequence, it has offered a number of implausible but exciting scenes, and it has just enough gas in its tank to carry it to the final credits.

Viewers will go along for the ride, as long as they aren’t inclined to catch their breath and start thinking about the plot. “M:I3” works as an adrenaline-fueled action film, but it’s also a disturbing film on a moral level. Numerous individuals are killed by Ethan and his team. Torture is used to extract important information. Cars, helicopters and trucks are dispatched through missile strikes, gunfire and other explosive devices. The kinetic camerawork is overkill, and the central relationship between Ethan and Julia is sexual before the two are married.

Next to those weighty concerns, the film’s pleasures are slight. It’s acceptable summer-movie fare for older teens and up, but other than some skillful execution of elaborate stunts, “M:I3” offers little of value.

If viewers demonstrate a hunger for this type of film by turning out for it in large numbers, Hollywood will continue to serve up this high-priced, low-edification entertainment. Meanwhile, affirming films like “Akeelah and the Bee” are largely missed by audiences who say they want more family-friendly films.
Where will your family spend its entertainment dollars this weekend?

Audience: Older teens and up.

Caution:

  • Language: Numerous profanities; Lord’s name taken in vain.
  • Sex/Nudity: No nudity, but Ethan and Julia—engaged but not yet married—are shown lying in bed; some passionate kissing; one character explains that IMF team members can never sustain a lasting relationship; a supporting character asks whether Ethan ever slept with an IMF trainee.
  • Violence: Intense sequences of brutality and torture; destruction of cars, trucks, helicopters and buildings; missile strikes; a grenade explodes; lots of gunfire and killing; explosive devices are inserted into the cranium and detonated; an adrenaline shot is bluntly administered; characters are killed, but with the expectation that they will be medically revived; corpses are displayed; some reckless driving.
  • Drugs/Alcohol: Party scene includes both, and some brief dancing.