Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011) PG-13, for sequences of intense action and violence. Dir: Brad Bird
This film is currently playing in theaters everywhere.
Tom Cruise is back again as Ethan Hunt in this fourth film of the Mission Impossible franchise. In this outing, Ethan and his team are racing against time to track down a terrorist named Hendricks who is looking for Russian nuclear launch codes. The trail leads them to the Kremlin, where a severe explosion takes place and IMF (Impossible Mission Force), for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, is blamed for the bombing. The President of the United States invokes Ghost Protocol, under which IMF is disavowed and officially disbanded. Nevertheless, Ethan and his team continue on their mission, and chase Hendricks to Dubai, then to Mumbai, to eventually stop a nuclear disaster from taking place.
This time around, Brad Bird is at the director’s chair—he is the creative director of animated classics as Iron Giant, Ratatouille, and The Incredibles, now taking on his first live action picture. Again back is Simon Pegg as computer whiz Benji Dunn, from the previous film, to add to the humor quotient. Paula Patton as agent Jane Carter and Jeremy Renner as agent William Brandt are the newcomers to the team.
This film, to put it simply, is all about the action and the incredible stunts (reportedly done by Cruise). And, they are incredible, not only because they are astonishing, but they are often also hard to believe (and take seriously). Ethan still does the vast majority of the hard, crazy stuff in this film and the amount of punishment he goes through on his body are stuff you would expect in a Jackie Chan film. But, hey, it works. Whether we see Ethan climbing the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa of Dubai, infiltrating the Kremlin, dodging and being kicked around by vehicles inside a huge sandstorm, and falling around all over the place in a multilevel car display, Tom Cruise shows that he is still superhuman in this continuously popular franchise. There are also an impressive amount of James Bond-like gadgets this time around, all very sleek and cool. Admittedly, the plot itself is generic fluff, but we do see a bit of emotional complexity in the characters here and there, especially when the fate of Ethan’s wife is brought into question.
Tom Cruise is the same ol’ Ethan Hunt we saw in the last outing and he brings the usual seriousness and physicality to the role. To offset all that seriousness is Benji, played by Simon Pegg, who does not fail to bring a good amount of lightness to the film, despite some of the rather typical dialogue he’s been given. Paul Patton’s Jane Carter is the attractive female of the bunch. Patton brings all that is sufficient to portray that “one hot chick with special skills,” a requirement for every Mission Impossible film. Jeremy Renner, normally known for his edgy characters, competently plays a somewhat softer chap as agent Brandt. Admittedly, one does wish he was given a beefier role as Cruise and Renner are both very capable actors who could have really played off each other.
Overall, this film is like the last film, but with just much more of it. The action is rougher and louder, but the characters remain fairly the same. In that sense, it’s like The Fast and the Furious franchise. It’s bigger, better, and nuttier. We get what we expect, but it’s still cool. Tom Cruise shows he hasn’t aged at all, at least physically. Director Brad Bird has done a laudable job bringing a copious amount of flash and intensity to an established franchise. The action scenes may be unbelievable, but they are still breathtaking—the building climbing scene is crazy and cool at the same time.
My Rating: *** out of **** stars.