The fourth installment of the Mission: Impossible series sees Ethan Hunt and his team go rogue after the Impossible Mission Force is implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, and shut down. Hunt is determined to clear his name and bring the real criminals to justice.
Cast your mind back to 1996 and the first Mission: Impossible movie, back then it was the height of sophistication and, in the midst of a Bond franchise that seemed to have lost its way, a shining light in the thriller/action franchise. Since then, Bond has come back with a bang and the M:I series has had to up it’s game. Thankfully, it has stepped up to the mark.
It is strange to imagine Pixar director Brad Bird behind the camera for this one, but he did direct The Incredibles, so if any Pixar alum is qualified, it is him. Bird pulls out some pretty spectacular set pieces, and ramps up the action to boot. The bad news is that – like many of the newer blockbusters coming our way – the film is over long and muddled in places.
Tom Cruise is back on form as Ethan Hunt, and even acknowledges that some of his lines are the cheesiest yet. The problems are that Ethan Hunt is not exactly the most interesting of central characters, Tom Cruise has a bit of a silly run and there is no need for him to be topless, none at all. It actually feels as though the franchise is priming Jeremy Renner to take over from Cruise, and this may not be a bad thing. Simon Pegg brings the humour, Jeremy Renner and Josh Holloway bring the pretty. If they are not your cup of tea, then Paula Patton is a beautiful woman with a thirst for revenge, that might do it for you. No? Well then the spectacular set pieces are sure to be your thing.
There are three main action sequences in the film, and they are some of the best we have seen on screen in a long time. Hunt escapes from prison, embarks on a car chase through a sandstorm and kicks all colours of crap out of the bad guy Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist) in a multi storey car park. Each sequence is brilliantly shot and visually engaging, even if they are based in heightened reality and slightly on the silly side. This is why we love M:I films, right?
The story is supremely silly; madman Hendricks believes that the world needs to go through a nuclear war, and is doing all he can to bring it about. The audience never really knows the character’s motivation, and as such he becomes rather like a Bond villain of old; evil for the sake of being evil. In fact, the entire film has touches of the cheesy Bond days about it, although there were no giant lasers in space. Phew! There is also the issue of the film trying to recreate the Cold War, with Russia becoming villains again. Weren’t we done with that?
In all, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is actually a pretty good action film. Yes, there are issues with the film, but if the audience allows themselves to switch their brains off and go with it, they will have a pretty good time. M:I films are not about changing the world or reinventing cinema, they are about scaling the outside of tall buildings, jumping down fan shafts with only a magnet to catch you, and using an iPad as a cloaking device. In other words; fantastic, but fun. Brad Bird does incredibly well with his first live action film, reminding us that he really is a great director, but it’s just a shame that Michael Nyqvist didn’t get to play more than one note in the film. We all know he is capable of more than that…