Thursday, 5 January 2012

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)

Image: Paramount Pictures

Back in 2006, JJ Abrams revitalised the Mission: Impossible franchise with a surprisingly entertaining third instalment. It was fast and fun with some welcome darkness thanks to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s fantastic villain. We were excited to see what Pixar veteran Brad Bird (The IncrediblesRatatouille) would do and if he could maintain the high quality with this, his first live-action movie.

After being framed for blowing up the Kremlin, Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his team are disavowed. They have no choice but to go after the real culprit, Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), on their own. But can they stop the brilliant terrorist who’s determined to start a nuclear war?

In terms of style and tone, MI4 carries on nicely from the previous instalment. Bird kicks things off with a couple of well-orchestrated set-pieces that set the tone before introducing the team and the plot. Cruise is very much at home in the role now and is comfortable letting his co-stars get the one-liners while he does the stunts and the glowering. The balance between light and dark remains intact, as magnetic metal suits and silly disguises sit nicely next to the surprisingly bone-crunching fight sequences.

Cruise’s commitment to his stunt work has always made the Mission: Impossible films stand out and this is no exception. The film reaches its high point around the halfway mark with a fantastically vertiginous climb up the outside of the world’s tallest building (the Burj Khalifa) in Dubai. Both Bird and Cruise get the opportunity to show off and the results are thrilling. It’s just a shame that the film never quite reaches those heights again. Nyqvist (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy) is a fine actor but the script doesn’t give him enough to do and he’s never on screen long enough to make much of an impression. Part of the reason for the success of MI3 was that it had a truly memorable and threatening villain, which this does not.

But it is a lot of fun. Apart from the building-climbing, there’s a great chase through a sandstorm, the film has also got that good mixture of humour and gravity that MI3 had, and the cast is solid. There’s the returning Simon Pegg as the techie/comic relief, Paula Patton (Precious) as the ass-kicker with a vendetta, Léa Seydoux (Midnight in Paris) as the evil assassin who gets paid in diamonds (obviously) and Jeremy Renner (The Town) as the mysterious analyst with secrets and a penchant for wise-cracking. Renner has been touted as the successor to the franchise and we’d be more than happy with that based on this evidence.  

While Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol doesn’t reinvent the genre, it’s a consistently entertaining blockbuster that follows on nicely from its slightly superior predecessor. Bird handles the action very well and there’s a solid turn from Cruise.  

Verdict: Fans of the last film should enjoy this. Bird delivers a fun action movie that won’t make the history books but certainly makes for an enjoyable two hours.

3/5

JH

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