Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is easily the best of the series with the original and third movie after it. The action is intense, the suspense well done and the comedy is right on the money without going over-the-top. Although Tom Cruise deserves a fair amount of credit, I’m giving most of the film’s success (including financial, grossing $600 million worldwide) to live action newcomer Brad Bird bringing his expertise that has made Pixar so successful into a new world.
Genre(s): Action, Thriller
Paramount | PG13 – 133 min. – $34.99 | April 17, 2012
Directed by: Brad Bird
Writer(s): Bruce Geller (television series); Josh Appelbaum & Andre Nemec (written by)
Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton
Theatrical Release Date: December 21, 2011
Features: Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Theatrical Trailers, DVD Copy, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 3
Audio: English (Dolby TrueHD 7.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Disc Size: 39.0 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 4.5/5
NOTE: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. CONTINUE READING AT YOUR OWN RISK!
The Mission: Impossible movie franchise has been fairly durable considering its now dating back 15 years – 45 years if you include the television for which its based – and while it’s been inconsistent in style thanks to the change in writers and directors, each at least have been entertaining if not a bit absurd in some of the storytelling. The latest is Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol forgoing the numbering system and, thankfully, leaving out another IMF-Agent-Gone-Rogue angle that had grown stale, even in the highly entertaining third entry, and makes one wonder about the IMF screening process.
The plot this go around begins in Budapest where we encounter an IMF agent named Trevor Hanaway (JOSH HOLLOWAY) as he tries to escape gunfire from trailing bad guys, leaping off a building landing on an airbag coming out of a device he threw out before his leap while taking out the two baddies, takes out a couple more bad guys on the ground and just when he think he’s in the clear with a piece of classified info in his satchel, he comes across a woman, named Sabine Moreau (LEA SEYDOUX), who he discovers too late is an assassin.
In Mission: Impossible whirlwind and world travel, we move to Moscow where Hanaway’s field team leader Jane Carter (PAULA PATTON) and Benji Dunn (SIMON PEGG), who had recently passed the exam to become a field agent, go to a prison to break out an incarcerated Ethan Hunt (TOM CRUISE) and his contact inside, Bogdan. His escape was authorized after Hanaway’s killing as the documents stolen were in fact Russian nuclear warhead launch codes. Hunt’s mission, should be choose to accept it (and, really when to they ever decline?), is to infiltrate the Kremlin to discover the identity of a terrorist known only as Cobalt (MICHAEL NYQUIST) who is after the codes and has a vision of worldwide peace through nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia. The mission goes awry when the team is set up by Cobalt and the Kremlin is blown up, placing the blame on the IMF.
Managing to escape from the authorities, Hunt gets a new mission from the IMF Secretary (TOM WILKINSON) to stop Cobalt before he can launch a world war, but Hunt and his team will be without support after the President initiated “Ghost Protocol”, eliminating the IMF and branding the remaining members as terrorists of the State. So, now it’s only Hunt, Carter, Dunn and the Secretary’s chief analyst William Brandt (JEREMY RENNER) that is left of the IMF. In Mission: Impossible fashion, they have a box car containing their remaining supplies of gadgets and weapons, they travel the world going after Cobalt before it’s too late.
Not only is Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol the best of the series, but it’s also the funniest and best balanced of the four movies and part of the reason no doubt is the live action feature film debut of Brad Bird. Bird, most known for his work with Pixar and, more specifically, The Incredibles which in itself is a send-up of the spy-thriller genre. Like J.J. Abrams before him in Mission: Impossible III, he brings his own style without going overboard (see John Woo’s addition).
Also what was impressive about this entry is the cast. Obviously at this point Tom Cruise is Ethan Hunt though I think he’s improved with each movie. In this round he takes it up another level, as does the action and suspense, climbing outside of the world’s tallest building, clinging to the ledge of a building or going mano-e-mano against the main villain during the climax; for a man entering his 50s, he’s looking good.
Taking Cruise aside, though, I believe this is the best team dynamic that has been assembled and really for the first time, a true team rather than everything resting on Hunt’s shoulders where the other films seem to take a back seat in observation mode. Back again, only the fourth actor to make multiple appearances in the franchise (Cruise, Rhames and Andreas Wisniewski – see movie to know who he plays), Simon Pegg gets more to do than merely being the tech lab rat, going into the field and playing the tech-savvy and joke-heavy team member. Paula Patton and quickly rising star Jeremy Renner join the group but fit right in providing good back-stories that never feels half-baked or lazy. Patton brings that understated sexiness we all love in our M:I movies while Renner has the necessary mystery element necessary for the genre.
The big downside for the movie, however, comes with the villain, played by Michael Nyqvist. Now, I think Nyqvist himself was fine, but the villain how he was written never quite comes together and doesn’t nearly come close to the badass-ness that Philip Seymour Hoffman brought in Mission: Impossible III. Still, it’s a serviceable villain so even though he won’t be remembered in the cannons of this franchise, which looks to extend probably even after Tom Cruise departs, it fills the part well enough.
One other drawback, and it’s fairly minor, is with Michael Giacchino’s score. Outside of the theme made famous by Lalo Schifrin, it’s a pretty mundane and unmemorable soundtrack. I guess it’s a good thing that it’s not too noticeable as I paid more attention to the movie, but where the first two movies had some good tracks (Hans Zimmer’s work on M:I 2 is my favorite), this one doesn’t exactly have anything that stands out.
Despite being on the fourth film in what was thought an aging franchise with an aging action star, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a fun adrenaline ride from beginning to end. Sure, it is a bit on the lengthy side clocking in at around 126-minutes sans end credits, but it still manages to fly by at a brisk pace.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.5/5
The Blu-ray comes housed in a standard case with a glossy, titled-embossed, slip cover. Also note that some of the features within are a part of the Best Buy Exclusive “Limited Edition”. All the features are contained on the second Blu-ray disc in this set. In the other, retail-wide set, the features are on the first disc. All features are in HD unless otherwise noted.
MISSION ACCEPTED (TRT 48:04):
Suiting Up in Prague (17:58) – The first behind-the-scenes featurette is a great production diary where members of the cast and crew talk about the series, the movie itself or the specific shot. It’s actually kind of cool as you get more of a voice comments over the footage rather than the actors, producers or director sitting in front of a CGI background. We also get comments by producer J.J. Abrams as he was shooting Super 8. ** Blu-ray Exclusive ** ** Limited Edition Exclusive **
Heating Up in Dubai (17:36) – Production moves onto Dubai for one of the more interesting of the featurettes which shows off the beauty of this metropolis in the desert. This one primarily focuses on Tom Cruise’s incredible stunt work on the side of the Burj Khalifa building. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Vancouver in Fisticuffs (12:01) – The movie goes onto Canada where the shoot takes place on soundstages. Although it is shorter, it’s still interesting to see some of the magic that goes on behind-the-scenes. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
IMPOSSIBLE ACTIONS (50:44):
The Russian Prison (11:49) – This featurette covers the action sequence within the prison starting with the stunt rehearsal to the final shooting. Like with the others, there are more sound bites over the behind-the-scenes footage. ** Blu-ray Exclusive ** ** Limited Edition Exclusive **
Shooting in IMAX® (3:33) – Much to the chagrin of some, while we get a good featurette on shooting the movie in the IMAX format, the movie itself was not given the treatment others saw in the theaters. ** Blu-ray Exclusive ** ** Limited Edition Exclusive **
Art Department (2:56) takes a look at transforming the city of Prague into Moscow or Budapest including, and especially, the signs. ** Blu-ray Exclusive ** ** Limited Edition Exclusive **
A Roll of Film (2:33) – This is another short featurette focuses on some of the post production tracking the film after a scene is shot. ** Blu-ray Exclusive ** ** Limited Edition Exclusive **
Life Masks (1:40) delves, quite shortly, into the makeup effects. ** Blu-ray Exclusive ** ** Limited Edition Exclusive **
Stepping Into the Storm (2:02) – This featurette provides footage of the sandstorm test in California. ** Blu-ray Exclusive ** ** Limited Edition Exclusive **
The Sandstorm (3:06) – Here we go into the shooting of the actual sandstorm done both in Dubai and Vancouver and while it is a short featurette, it’s still fascinating to see how it was all put together.
Dubai Car Crash (8:15) delves further into the sandstorm sequence this time on the second unit shooting and some test shots of the head-on car crash. ** Blu-ray Exclusive ** ** Limited Edition Exclusive **
Lens on the Burj (0:57) – This very brief featurette is some additional footage on the Burj sequence. ** Blu-ray Exclusive ** ** Limited Edition Exclusive **
Props (3:07) is another interesting featurette that doesn’t get a whole lot of coverage in features for other movies. Here we look at the various briefcases, knives, guns, gloves, goggles, etc.
Composer (10:42) centers the score for Ghost Protocol by Michael Giacchino and his thought process on doing the sequel. ** Blu-ray Exclusive ** ** Limited Edition Exclusive **
Deleted Scenes (15:02) – We get 8 scenes that didn’t make the cut including a minor alternate opening. This comes with an optional commentary by Director Brad Bird. The scenes themselves are OK but were rightly removed, but it’s still nice to see it presented here.
Last in the features department are 2 Theatrical Trailers. I’m not sure, but these might be exclusive to the “Limited Edition”.
Also included is a standard definition DVD Copy which only contains some previews and a Digital Copy (** Blu-ray Exclusive **) download code. You have the choice of using the “UltraViolet” online streaming or the classic download for iTunes or Windows Media.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol chases and crashes its way onto Blu-ray high-def with an excellent looking 1080p transfer. The film’s 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio seems to be on par from my memory of seeing it in theaters: the colors are bright without seeming pumped up and detail levels are well done without looking enhanced.
I should note that unlike what Warner did for The Dark Knight, the IMAX shows have not been ported over so those looking for an IMAX-like experience will be disappointed. Personally, I’m not a fan of the shifting aspect ratios which is far more obvious on the smaller big screen than on the gigantic ones in the IMAX theaters, though there is something to be said about a scene losing its grandiosity when framed.
AUDIO – 4.75/5
The disc comes with a boom-tastic Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track which shows off the numerous action scenes as well as some of the quieter moments as well. Dialogue levels sound nice though the punch and depth comes via the front and rear channels which will encompass any home theater. The only slight drawback I would say is it didn’t have the push to reach the upper echelon compared with other 5 star lossless tracks, but it’s still pretty damn good.
OVERALL – 4.25/5
Overall, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is easily the best of the series with the original and third movie after it. The action is intense, the suspense well done and the comedy is right on the money without going over-the-top. Although Tom Cruise deserves a fair amount of credit, I’m giving most of the film’s success (including financial, grossing $600 million worldwide) to live action newcomer Brad Bird bringing his expertise that has made Pixar so successful into a new world. The Blu-ray itself offers up a decent amount of features to go along with impressive audio and video transfers.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.