Mission: Impossible - Who you gonna call?
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is directed by Brad Bird and stars Tom Cruise who once again reprises his role as Ethan Hunt. The film also stars Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Anil Kapoor, and Lea Seydoux.
By the fourth film, the experimental stage for the Mission: Impossible films was over. Three films in, and it was completely clear as to what would maximize the potential of a Mission: Impossible film: a fast-paced spy plot supported by as many eye-catching, action set pieces as possible. While the first film was a spy-heavy affair and the second film relied on over-the-top action, the third film was the first to find something of a nice blend between the spying and the shooting. Now was just the matter of polishing up the rough edges and delivering a rock solid Mission: Impossible film that stayed steady all the way through (something M:I III was not able to do).
Something I touched upon in my Mission: Impossible review was how the Mission: Impossible film series is one of the weirder ones, because the series has actually gotten better with each installment, whereas getting worse is usually the norm for film series that go on and on without end. The idea of having a new director for each new Mission: Impossible film proves once again to be a great idea, as Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol not only keeps the Mission: Impossible momentum going; it also proves to be the first Mission: Impossible film that can be labeled as great. This would not seem likely at first, considering the directing duties went to longtime animation darling Brad Bird, who had not directed a live action film before Ghost Protocol. With Ghost Protocol going on to gross nearly $700 million and to be the highest grossing film starring Tom Cruise, Bird did not suffer from a lack of live-action directing experience.
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol begins with Ethan Hunt imprisoned in Moscow, for reasons that aren't made clear until later in the film. Ethan is able to escape with fellow prisoner Bogdan (Miraj Grbic), who has information that Ethan needs about a mysterious man known only as "Cobalt". Ethan learns that Cobalt has obtained a file that contains codes for Russian nuclear missiles, which was previously in the hands of IMF agent Trevor Hanaway (Josh Holloway), until an assassin named Sabine Moreau (Lea Seydoux) kills Hanaway. Ethan and his team, Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and newly appointed field agent Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), are sent to investigate the Kremlin in order to obtain more information on Cobalt. However, the mission ends with a bomb, whose detonation is broadcasted on the IMF frequency radio and destroys much of the Kremlin. As a result, the IMF Secretary initiates "Ghost Protocol", in which IMF is disavowed, leaving Ethan and his team with no choice but to continue pursuing Cobalt on their own. Later joining Ethan's team is IMF Chief Analyst William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), who has more to him than meets the eye.
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is the first Mission: Impossible film to be somewhat faithful to the nature of the Mission: Impossible TV series, in which it was a team of spies undergoing a mission and not one death defying man throwing himself into the heat of the action while the rest of his team hides in the shadows and provides support. The IMF team in Ghost Protocol feels like an actual team, with everyone getting a chance to take part in the action, the movie never reducing itself to "Ethan Hunt saves the day" or convincing us that the movie is another round of "Ethan Hunt and friends."
We do find out that Jeremy Renner's character has a particular set of skills, skills that would make him a nightmare for...ah, never mind. Simon Pegg's Benji is the obvious comic relief member of the bunch, and isn't it a relief when your comic relief is actually funny? There's just the right amount of Benji humor sprinkled on top of everything else going on, enough to keep things fun and never turn Benji into a nuisance. Paula Patton also plays nicely into the role of the ass-kicking female member of the group, avoiding ever being objectified (there is a scene of her changing out of a dress while in a car that Ethan is driving, but Ethan doesn't make any kind of suggestive comment) and not always being dependent on Ethan giving her directions. The team is a joy to watch, finding a nice balance between spy work, character development, and humor.
- Once again, Tom Cruise proves himself to be a good sport by performing a lot of his own stunts. This time, the setpiece most worth noting is when Ethan must climb up the Burj Khalifa and then climb back down using a line. Cruise doing this stunt on his own allowed Brad Bird more freedom with positioning the camera, and it's so thrilling to watch because it actually is Cruise out there swinging from a line. Simply put, what you see on screen is actually happening. There's no obvious stunt double or crappy CGI to deflate the aura of excitement.
- For this being the first Mission: Impossible film that works on every level from top to bottom, I don't have much of anything in terms of low points. There are a few minor plot points that don't go anywhere (for one, Bogdan turns out to not be all that important of a character), but if a few weak plot details are your greatest concern, then you're in a good spot.
I think that's just about all that needs to be said. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is fast-paced fun that gets major mileage out of its sense of team work and its marvelous set pieces. It patches up the mistakes that were present through the first three films and gives you basically everything you could ask for in a Mission: Impossible film. If this franchise is getting better with age, then who knows when it'll hit its peak?
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: