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Empire's 50 Greatest Movie Sequels | The follow-ups that achieve greatness in their own right

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Mission: Impossible III
DIRECTED BY JJ ABRAMS
RELEASED: 2006

Why's it so good? M:I III does the seemingly impossible (of course) by taking the worst thing about its predecessor - the endless 'face-off' removals of astonishingly realistic rubber masks - and making it the best thing here. What's more, newbie director JJ Abrams manages to balance some brilliantly staged action - the Vatican infiltration, the bridge attack - with actual emotion, a first for the series.

Mission: Impossible III Mission: Impossible III
How does it stack up to the original? It's at least as good: check out that initial helicopter flight through the wind farm for bloodboiling action, and there's tension to match the first film's iconic hanging-from-a-wire scene in the bomb-in-the-brain gags. The cast more than match up to the originals, too: for every Kristen Scott-Thomas there's a Philip Seymour Hoffman, Simon Pegg, Billy Crudup or Michelle Monaghan here.

Glaring error: We're still not convinced that some of that technology actually exists, you know. We suspect they made it up.


GAP BETWEEN SEQUEL AND ORIGINAL: 120 MONTHS


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