Running strong since the movie first released in 1996, Mission Impossible is back again for a fourth entry in the series with “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” where it takes the entire series to a whole new level of non-stop action and the fourth time a different adventurous director has orchestrated the action.
The most unexpected director yet, Brad Bird, makes his live-action debut with MI: 4 after directing three exceptional and stylish animated films namely ”Ratatouille,” “The Incredibles” and “Iron Giant.”
Even though it is his first live action film, Bird has still been able to capture the essence of the MI films and has produced an entertaining production that’s got considerable visual flair, especially in its action-heavy IMAX sections. Bird also brought a touch of playfulness to the proceedings in moments like a self-destructing phone booth that refuses to self destruct.The story begins inauspiciously. We see a fellow agent from the Impossible Mission Force (IMF) organization, Josh Holloway, interacting with a sultry freelance assassin (Moreau) played by France’s Lea Seydoux and a mighty important briefcase that everyone wants to get their hands on.
That briefcase turns out to contain Russian nuclear launch codes that are coveted by brilliant madman Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), a stone-cold nihilist and one of those super-villains who is not only off-the-charts brilliant but is also in great shape with outstanding hand-to-hand combat skills. A villain who if not stopped could cause a lot of very bad stuff to happen.
Kurt is also crazy, he believes that the only way to save the world is to destroy it and then rebuild it into a new, improved, presumably more Hendricks-centric society and will stop at nothing — nothing! — To put his plan into action. Now that’s a dangerous villain. Anyway, Hendricks, code name Cobalt, is so feared that an IMF team is dispatched to liberate Hunt from a Russian prison where undisclosed actions (we learn much later what) have landed him.
His teammates include the tough-as-nails Jane Carter (Paula Patton – a sexy agent capable of kicking butt both in leather garb and evening gowns), not-as-funny-as-he-thinks techie Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) a government data analyst and holder of secrets
A meticulously orchestrated plan is amended on the spot and hunt is soon free. But barely is he out of jail when things go horribly wrong. As he and his gang make their way into the Kremlin to gather vital information, the Kremlin explodes in an excellent effects shot and the IMF folk get the blame.
With the U.S. President taking heat and international tensions are aflame, Hunt and his crew are forced to go into “ghost protocol” mode – a fancy way of saying they’re officially disbanded, but can still operate without government backing. Talk about ingratitude. So now Hunt and gang are left to their own resources (which include some nifty gizmos that have the air of James Bond about them) to save the world. It was serious fun watching the team use these super cool gadgets and clever plans. What was cooler is when things go wrong — mechanical failures and just plain being outsmarted by a very clever bad guy.
Tom Cruise scales the Burj (no Stuntman)
Back to the plot, since the launch codes are in the hands of the pouty Moreau who’s on her way to Dubai to hand them over to Hendricks, Evans and company have no time to mope over their new outcast status. And so follows a series of actions and stunts that include a wild chase though a sandstorm, a crazy fight scene in a parking lot with vertical conveyer belts and revolving platforms, a fall into fan shaft, kept just above the sharp blades by a magnet suit, and Ethan’s heart-stopping ascension 100 stories above ground (which Cruise did himself – no stuntman) with nothing but a pair of very sticky mechanical not very reliable “Gecko Gloves” — and then just one glove along the side of Burj Khalifa, a futuristic glass-walled tower and the tallest building in the world.
As he dangles and swings, cinematographer Robert Elswit frames the star’s perilous progress up the side of the building, with the city itself spread out far below, to vividly demonstrate that what we’re seeing is real, not digitized. I know I was impressed.
Along the way our crew visits world capitals where they meet a weapons dealer and a playboy billionaire and also have run-ins with an assassin and the Russian police force. And of course, as all glamorous spy movies must, there’s also a pause for a big, fancy party so our crew can get all gussied up.
Paula-Patton and Tom Cruise in the ball scene
With all of these amazing action sequences, there may be some concern that there isn’t much of a plot, something that I’ve been known to complain about myself with some action films. However, the plot is well-developed and the action sequences are so well done that you can tell every little detail of what’s going on, as opposed to some films that leave such sequences in a confusing blur. I must say, it’s rare to get an action film that’s done this well, where the action doesn’t turn into a monotonous bore.
Over all, this is probably the fastest two hours I’ve spent in a theater in quite some time. The film is so entertaining and has such a great pacing keep you thoroughly engaged as it hops from one amazing sequence to the next. It hardly stops for an entire five minutes, and even then, it’s just to fill us in on more of the plot. The pacing is also helped along by a good dose of humor, most of which is provided by Simon Pegg.
Though the story is inevitably generic: a frenzied international chase sprinkled with squibbets of back story and occasional intrusions of emotion with the bad guys constantly one step ahead, but the good guys always having something up their sleeve, the exhilarating action sequences counter all of this.
But no one is buying a ticket for witty repartee or realism. This is just for fun and it is enormously entertaining. We can only hope that the next inevitable sequel will be just as good. With the sole purpose of providing exciting adventures and thrilling action sequence the movie has certainly delivered and is a must watch.
By the way, though seeing it on a regular screen should be just fine as well, I recommended watching the movie at IMAX, as it provides some breathtaking shots that only add to the thrills.
That’s all from me folks. Have a great action filled weekend!