Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol- Movie ReviewDecember 28, 2011
The action genre is quite an interesting one. Its history goes back as far as the beginning years of Hollywood, and they are usually the films that draw in the most revenue at the worldwide box office. Action films range across squashbucklers, Western shoot-em-ups, fantasies with gigantic, epic battle scenes, and the classic spy film such as the newest Mission: Impossible film, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol. With new sidekicks and a new director, is this reboot of the TV-to-film spy franchise another spectacular Tom Cruise adventure?
*MINOR SPOILER ALERT!*
Once again, Tom Cruise stars as the veteran Impossible Missions Force (also known as IMF) agent Ethan Hunt. Set in the modern day, he is freed from a prison in Moscow to be informed of a top priority mission. An agent intercepting a courier carrying Russian nuclear launch codes is murdered by an assassin named Sabine Moreau (Léa Seydoux), in which the mission was related to a Swedish-born Russian nuclear extremist codenamed “Cobalt” (Michael Nyqvist), who is later revealed to be Kurt Hendricks. Hendricks was previously a professor at a Stockholm university, but his “extreme” theories about human evolution caused others to deem him insane, leading him to his resignation; Hendricks believes that a “controlled,” (meaning that all citizens of the world are affected) global nuclear war will allow the human race to rise from the ashes of total destruction and emerge more powerful than ever before. To initiate his plan to incite such a nuclear war, he sets charges in the Moscow Kremlin, destroys it and frames the IMF (more specifically, Ethan Hunt) for the explosion, leading the whole world to believe that the United States is responsible for the bombing. At this point, tensions between Russia and America are at its highest since the worst of times in the Cold War. Hunt and his team including Agents Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), Jane Carter (Paula Patton), and IMF chief analyst William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) are then given a choice/mission by the IMF’s secretary (Tom Wilkinson). The president enacts the “Ghost Protocol”, which completely disavows the IMF and places all of the blame on Hunt’s team, but this allows them to escape government custody so they can track down Hendricks and save the world from his madness…
To be completely honest with you, this is the first Mission: Impossible film I’ve seen, so I’m not even sure if I’m justified in writing this review. Even so, I see this film as a reboot to the original trilogy of films which saw its last release five years ago, so I think I’m ok. What I mean is that Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol does well to explain what previously occurred in the franchise to newcomers like myself and still be engaging for longtime viewers as and first-timers to Mission: Impossible. This is most likely due to the smartly-written dialogue, smooth plot transitions and excellent direction from Brad Bird. To be frank with you though, the story here actually isn’t that special at all. If you’ve seen a film about insane men who want to destroy the world before, you’ve seen them all. Here you get the basic setup of an American spy being framed for something he didn’t do, becoming federal fugitives, and then chasing a madman across the globe. Of course, most of what happens in Ghost Protocol ends up being what you might expect from a film like this. Even so, what makes Ghost Protocol so great is not the story itself, but rather its execution. It’s rather curious that Brad Bird directed this film considering that all of his past directorial work was involved with animated films (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille), but after seeing the film twice it has become clear to me that hiring him to direct Ghost Protocol was a smart choice, even if this is his first live-action film. His influence can be seen everywhere in this film, from the stylistic cinematography to the witty dialogue and respectable character development. By the way, the screenplay by the writers of Alias in this film isn’t going to turn any heads at the Academy, but it gets the job done with some great humor, a fast-paced narrative and as I said before, decent character development. That doesn’t mean that every character is dynamic though since you can already understand Dunn, Carter, and Hendricks’ personalities from the start, but Brandt (Jeremy Renner’s character) is a welcome new addition to Hunt’s team. In a nutshell, the story of Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol is generic, but the witty screenplay and Brad Bird’s excellent direction helped to steer this film on the right track.
As far as acting is concerned, the cast is in the same situation as the story: none of their work is really noteworthy, but the performances from the cast are serviceable enough to the film anyhow. Tom Cruise has been a well-known actor for nearly 30 (!) years, and he has been known as Ethan Hunt for 15 years; of course he does his job well as the established IMF agent. For the newcomers, Jeremy Renner does a pretty good job as William Brandt as I briefly mentioned before. He won’t get any Oscar nominations for his performance, but Renner certainly shows off one of the most believable performances in the whole film. As for Paula Patton, she’s good but not great; I see her purpose in the film as the sexy agent who knows a thing or two about taking care of business. Simon Pegg, as you might expect, is the comic relief of Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol and he works well as the mildly awkward tech geek who turns out to be actually pretty useful both physically and mentally towards the end. Although he is still a flat character, his performance is nonetheless entertaining. For the villains, their portrayers seem to be just going through their performances, but at least they’re believable enough to serve their purpose as those who want to destroy the world.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who is reading this, but one of this film’s greatest strengths is the audio/visual presentation. Brad Bird’s second film, The Incredibles, is known for its stylistic action and cinematography (even if it’s animated), and because of this it’s clear that Brad Bird greatly influenced the production of this entry in the Mission Impossible franchise. Every action sequence in the film is intense and stylistic as you would expect from a spy film, and the action remains absolutely ridiculous throughout Ghost Protocol, meaning that the entertainment never lets up. I have to admit that the action is a little bit too ridiculous to believe since sometimes the characters fall 20-30 feet, hit their faces on extremely hard surfaces and are just fine, but this just adds to how much you can escape from reality in this film. Adding to the action itself, the choreography and visual effects are often rather spectacular due to Brad Bird’s decision to film Ghost Protocol in IMAX. The occasional CGI is a tad over-the-top in the scenes in which the Kremlin is bombed and when a sandstorm hits Dubai, but it fits well when necessary. As far as the sound design goes, Michael Giacchino once again has composed an excellent film soundtrack since the music of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol sounds awesome, especially when you hear the redone Mission Impossible theme played during the stylish opening credit sequence. Oh yeah, and the sound mixes are great as well. If you see this in IMAX (or any theater for that matter), you will feel truly immersed into the action due to the intensity that comes from gunshots, the snapping of bones and such.
As I said before in this review, I had never seen a Mission Impossible film before Ghost Protocol, so I’m actually not sure how to compare this movie with others in the series. However, I must say that this is absolutely one of the year’s best action films. This may not have the gripping story or acting talent of X-Men: First Class, the wit of Rango (it counts as an action-packed Western, doesn’t it?), nor the heart of Kung Fu Panda 2, but something about Brad Bird’s excellent direction has lead the Mission Impossible franchise back onto the right track. If you are looking to have some escapist fun at the movies this holiday season, go see Ghost Protocol with your family, whether or not you view it in IMAX or in a regular theater; however, the extra perk of seeing the IMAX version of this film is also seeing The Dark Knight Rises IMAX Prologue beforehand (it’s pretty awesome, aside from the fact that you can’t even understand Tom Hardy). In short, Brad Bird and Tom Cruise’s mission was accomplished!