Updated: Nov 12, 2019
Nominee #9 - Mission Impossible III ( 2006)
Ethan Hunt has to go after the Rabbit's foot but in Owen Davian he has to deal with one of the series' most iconic villains who will stop at nothing to get the lethal weapon himself.
Unlike most of the insanely-paced stunt and special effects loaded series, Mission Impossible III's opening scene does not have any action at all. Philip Seymour Hoffman was cast in MI 3 for a reason. When he points a gun at somebody’s head you know he’s not bluffing. His eyes say it. His lips say it. His jaw muscles say it. His entire body says it. And most important the cool metal barrel of his gun says it. So, MI 3’s opening scene doesn’t have the usual action-thriller movie openings: pulse-pounding motorbike or car or plane or boat chase. There’s no bomb. Just a simple gun and a threat that’s anything but idle.
Philip Seymour Hoffman was cast in MI 3 for a reason. When he points a gun at somebody’s head you know he’s not bluffing. His eyes say it. His lips say it. His jaw muscles say it. His entire body says it.
Tom Cruise (IMF agent Ethan Hunt) is strapped to a chair. He’s recovering from a drug or a head injury or both and he all he can take in, during those first few seconds is Hoffman (Owen Davian) promising to kill his wife/fiancee Michelle Monahagan (Julia Meade) if he doesn’t tell Hoffman where the Rabbit’s Foot is. Hoffman reassures Cruise that the pounding he feels is because of the ‘explosive charge’ that’s been placed in his head. Michelle’s also strapped to a chair with a tape across her mouth. Hoffman’s yelling ‘one!’ and Cruise starts pleading, arguing, demanding, reminding, negotiating, bargaining. Hoffman yells ‘two!’ and you get a feeling that this one isn’t going to go away, it’s not one of those miracle set-piece stunts where the Cruise escapes. But you hope against hope – for Julia’s sake! Hoffman yells ‘three!’. Somewhere along the line between their shouting and whispering you get the message, sort of. They’re in a very dark room, where dark things happen. There’s another guy in the background with a dark suit. Hoffman himself is wearing a dark suit over a dark shirt. There’s hardly any light. There’s a one second frame where Hoffman points the gun at Julia’s leg and a shot goes off but we don’t get to see whether she’s actually shot but she whimpers above the tape. He yells at Cruise ‘You think I’m playing? You don’t think I’ll do it?’. When Hoffman finally whispers ‘ten’ he isn’t really counting, he isn’t really waiting any more for Cruise to answer, he’s shooting and that very second we see the familiar MI flame licking its way up (or down) a string of dynamite.