M:I:3

Or, “Alias: The Remix”, as we’ve taken to calling it at home. Apparently we’re not the only ones who think so. I finally got around to watching this last night, and it was a lot of fun. It still doesn’t trump the first one by De Palma, but at least it washes away the bad taste from John Woo’s shameless “Notorious” ripoff.

I know JJ Abrams had his whole “Alias” crew with him (script, set design, music, editing) so it’s not surprising that for better or worse it was like seeing an episode of that show on ‘roids. A bit like comfort food, if you will -- the torture fetish, the computer nerd covertly breaking protocol, the mistrust between the field agents and their superiors -- it’s all there, and it allowed me to slip into the rhythm of the movie. I would only get pulled out by meta-observations:

“Are we going to cut to a ’48 hours earlier’ title card?”
“JJ Abrams finally turned Felicity into a spy. Wasn’t that the joke on how Alias was born?”
“Why has Tom Cruise’s acting calcified into a variation on that steely grimace?”
“What is going on with Billy Crudup’s hair?”
“Hey -- it’s Laurence Fishburne! He’s married to Anna Espinosa.”
“Ah, Philip Seymour Hoffman. It’s the ‘Magnolia’ reunion!”

Speaking of Philip Seymour Hoffman, it’s nice that he gets to chew it up a bit here, without having to feel like another Oscar depends on it. I was worried that I wouldn’t buy him playing the heavy, but it worked.

I’m also still trying to figure out how I missed Carla Gallo from “Undeclared” -- her name was in the credits, but where did she appear?