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. – $29.99 | 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
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (Dolby Dolby Digital), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
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 his backpack 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 – 2.0/5
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.
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.
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.
VIDEO – 4.25/5
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is presented in its original 2.35 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio and all in all, looks quite good. There’s some minor pixilation during the darker scenes but otherwise the color array seems fine and there’s only a minimal amount of natural DVD flaws.
AUDIO – 3.75/5
The DVD comes with a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track which is serviceable and especially is useful for the score, although dialogue levels and some of the audio effects sound reasonably good throughout with clarity and depth on par with other DVD releases.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
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.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman