REVIEW: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

4 01 2012

Leave it to Brad Bird, a member of the Pixar brain trust responsible for such triumphs as “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille,” to figure out how to make the year’s purest, most enjoyable action movie with “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.”  For 135 minutes, the adrenaline pumps steadily as the eye is treated to a potpourri of dazzling stunts followed by stunning cinematography.  It’s skin deep, sure, but Tom Cruise has been unabashedly likewise for years, so who cares?  Movies like this are supposed to be fun, and so often they aren’t.  This one is.

Maybe it’s the sort of child-like wonder and awe that Bird brings with him from Pixar that makes this movie “Mission: Enjoyable.”  But whatever that X factor is, it works well.  There’s slightly less substance and character development than J.J. Abrams’ last installment in the series five years ago, which also featured one of the most maniacal villains in recent memory in Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Owen Davian.  But when you’re seeing Tom Cruise actually scale the world’s tallest building in the world – yes, he actually did that stunt himself – Bird more than compensates for the film’s major shortcoming.

He draws on two valuable resources to make the movie such ruckus fun.  The first is simplicity: it’s much easier to enjoy the ride when you aren’t having to keep track of a million different characters and names caught up in a huge scheme of political espionage.  When it’s Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, being as corny and ridiculously impetuous as ever, being backed up by an eclectic IMF squad going against a crazy Swedish scientist and a small gang of confederates trying to nuke the world, it makes it easier to sit back and enjoy the car chases and the cool gadgets.

His second resource is jetsetting, which I’m sure is made possible by producer Tom Cruise who had faith in this movie when I’m sure Paramount wasn’t jumping up and down on a couch for a fourth movie in the series.  The key to the pacing of a “Mission: Impossible” movie is rather simple: don’t let the audience get bored!  And indeed, we can’t as we go from Russia to Dubai to India, each with numerous sequences of Cruise seal-of-approval worthy awesomeness.  Location scouts also found the coolest, hippest places to film, such as cutting-edge parking garages and brand new buildings so we are never jaded by the familiar.

Not to mention that if you are able to see this movie on an IMAX screen, which I highly recommend, you will be forced to verbalize your response to the movie.  By that, I mean you won’t be able to resist whispering “THAT’S SO COOL!” to the person next to you.  “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” as seen through the lens of Academy Award-winning cinematographer Robert Elswit on a 60-foot screen is one of the most jaw-dropping, blood-pumping sights you can see for under $20 in America.  While nothing can top watching the breathtaking Hong Kong jump scene from “The Dark Knight” in IMAX, Tom Cruise scaling a building using suction gloves comes pretty darned close.

Yes, Cruise is still as cheesy as ever and probably still thinks he is God’s gift to cinema, but this movie reminds us why at least some of it is justified.  There’s also the presence of Jeremy Renner and his unbridled manliness to cancel out a little bit of Tom Cruise’s pompousness.  But Cruise is much more of an asset than a liability to “Ghost Protocol,” and with the help of Brad Bird, this 15 year-old movie franchise feels as fresh and exciting as ever.  A- /


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2 responses

9 01 2012
headbrass

This movie made me remember why I like Tom Cruise. The action was paced perfectly, and the story was more stream-lined and easy to follow. Because really, we’re just here to see the Impossible moments. The only negative to this movie was the whole time I just kept thinking to myself – Gee, he loves to run.

9 01 2012
Marshall

He has THE DORKIEST RUN. My family and I laughed at it the whole time.

Here’s a great YouTube video for more chuckles:

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