Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – 2011
Directed by Brad Bird
Starring Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, Michael Nyqvist, Vladimir Mashkov, Samuli Edelmann, Léa Seydoux
Written by André Nemec, Josh Appelbaum
There are some incredible visuals in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, taking one to some of the most picturesque landmarks in the world: Budapest, Moscow, Dubai, Mumbai and most especially Paula Patton. Through it all, one can’t help but smile at the thought that Tom Cruise has figured out exactly what it takes to be an action star who appeals to every demographic. The most remarkable thing about the 4th entry in the Mission: Impossible series is not the lavish sights, spectacular stunts or remarkable cat and mouse games played between the M:I team and antagonist Kurt Hendricks (Nyqvist). It is simply this: any one who thinks perfected stunts are amazing, should try to miss a few of them by “that much.” Where movies like Salt, James Bond and anything starring Will Smith succeed by making sure the protagonist is just more sure-footed than the bad guys, Tom Cruise has, in recent years, taken a page out of the Chaplin and Chan playbook. It takes true intelligence to show how fallible your good guy is, how he might be dead were it not for the help he received from others.
The result is his most successful film in years, and one of the best action thrillers to come out since his Mission: Impossible 3. It starts out with a wonderful chase scene in Budapest with LOST’s Josh Holloway doing a cool jump from a building. Unfortunately, he does not last too long. This brings us to a prison in Russia, where Cruise is locked up, fully expecting a team to get him out. He is surprised to discover who is on the team, and even more surprised when his next mission goes awry at the hands of Hendricks, a crazed nuclear scientist, who is looking for peace through destruction. At this point, he is introduced to Renner’s agent Brandt. The introduction comes to an abrupt halt when they discover just how much of a wanted man Ethan Hunt really is.
There is a very easy pace to this film, given the frantic nature of their mission. While Cruise’s Hunt is fully at ease in his role, one truly gets the sense that he is fully invested in the character and does anything but take his franchise for granted. This is the most cohesive unit to date in the series, and that IS saying something, given the team he had last time out. Simon Pegg is as close to a surefire comic gold as it gets, since his discovery in Shaun of the Dead. Paula Patton is beyond beautiful and physically gifted in the action department. Her obvious upper body strength makes her fight scenes remarkably realistic but also looks great in evening gowns.
The most intriguing addition to the film is Jeremy Renner. Already tapped as Hawkeye for the upcoming Avengers movie as well as Aaron Cross, who is the protagonist in The Bourne Legacy, Renner would seem to have his hands full. All indications point towards him being in this series for some time as well. His performance here is surprisingly vulnerable for such a capable action star. He fits right into the complex scheme of incredibly talented agents who are capable not only of messing up, but making up for it, too.
Lets get to what everyone really wants to talk about, and that is the astounding stunts of the Dubai masterpiece, the Burj Khalifa. The amazing part about the sequences that take place here is how understated they all are. Not only do we have Cruise doing his own stunts (granted, he is secured with cabling, but what are you willing to risk with cables?), but both Seydoux and Patton did their own as well. It’s not enough to do your own stunts, th0ugh. You need to make those stunts believable. This is where Cruise, at the ripe old age of 49, has learned to excel. The scenes at the top of the world’s tallest building are among the best and funniest routines ever witnessed by this reviewer. For this reason alone, the movie is not to bemissed.
Cruise is not the only one with great stunt opportunities, Renner gets his shot at the end, in what is one of the now signature shots in the franchise. There always seems to be a need to drop from somewhere and almost hit the bottom, and from there, hover and do some work. The spin on the routine is entirely fresh this time out and one wonders how many times they can come up with new ways to do this.
Nyqvist, so exceptional in the Millennium Trilogy (The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest), gets a chance to move from kind milquetoast to venomous nut job as Hendricks and he nails it. He has an incredibly wrong vision for peace, and looks like he thoroughly enjoys sharing that vision with the rest of us.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, is the kind of film that deserves to be seen by everyone. The care and precision put into the craft exhibited here are a testament to take the job of entertaining the masses. This is not the kind of film that could be made by the people who make movies like Max Payne, Tomb Raider and even ID4. This is entertainment as art, and the reverse.
(***** out of *****)