Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Choose to Accept - "Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol" Review

Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol begs for theaters to have mandatory oxygen tanks installed under every seat in the house.  It is so full of breathtaking moments of pure adrenaline, humor, and just plain fun that it almost becomes overwhelming.  While most modern action films dissolve into a cacophony of sound and visual chaos, Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol proves that form always trumps style, like a shotgun blast to the face.

It has been five years since J. J. Abram's Mission: Impossible III and Tom Cruise's public relations suicide.  In that time, Tom Cruise has been nearly absent from the silver screen, particularly in leading roles.  His role in Tropic Thunder went a long way to proving that he had a sense of humor about himself and was aware of just how badly he had damaged his image.  Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol serves to remind its audience why they ever loved Tom Cruise, who is rapidly approaching 50 years of age, and this aging series.

The film starts with the IMF team breaking lead character Ethan Hunt out of a Moscow prison, despite not really knowing why.  Hunt is joined by Benji (Simon Pegg) and Jane (Paula Patton) and is given his next mission, if he chooses to accept it.  They are to infiltrate the Kremlin to steal back nuclear launch codes from some Iron Curtain bad guys looking to utilize it in the most nefarious of ways.  However, they are beaten to the punch and set up to look like they've destroyed the Kremlin, in a massive explosion (one of the few in the film).

IMF has been shut down and all of the agents placed at blame for the horrendous disaster.  It is up to Hunt, Dunn, Carter, and Agent Brandt (Jeremy Renner), an accountant who seems to know more than he lets on, to stop an all-out nuclear war between Russian and the U.S.A. that could escalate into the end of all civilization.

The process by which this is done involves a lot of globetrotting, car-chasing, and genuine butt-kicking.  These are the moments that absolutely steal the show.  In fact, the number of scenes featuring characters talking to each other and discussing the plot could probably be counted on one hand.

That's not to say that Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol is just a vehicle for its larger-than-life set pieces.  No, what makes the film so kinetic and exciting is that all of these moments of action only work to progress the plot in a manner that is easy to understand.

Director Brad Bird (The Incredibles, The Iron Giant, Ratatouille) proves himself to be an incredible fit for the series in his first live action film.  It is immediately evident that his skills as an animator have bled into his work in Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol, as every moment is precisely controlled and fully utilized.  This work comes as a welcome refreshment during a time when action cinema has become overly chaotic, loud, and completely incomprehensible.

Bird immediately sets the tone of this film in the opening scenes, where assassins jump off of roofs and fire blindly into the sky.  Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol's characters are comic superheroes who can survive just about anything and have more gadgets than James Bond could ever dream of.

The script smartly weaves its characters in and out of progressively worse situations that are both nail-biting and comical.  If Hunt scaling the outside of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, while utlizing some untrustworthy "Spider-man" gloves doesn't sound harrowing enough, just wait until an unrelenting sandstorm rolls into town.  Each of these moments is presented in an equally compelling visual fashion that demands that it be seen in an IMAX theater.  Each and every one of the 130 stories that Hunt climbs above can be felt at the bottom of one's stomach.

At times the unrelenting pace and continuation of these scenes can feel a bit repetitive, but when each of these scenes are crafted this elegantly it can be hard to find fault in that concept.  At worst Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol's action peaks early and can't live up to its biggest stunt in the end.

Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol is big, loud, bold, and, most of all, fun.  The action is so relentless that it is almost exhausting.  However, with the stellar direction of Brad Bird and star power of Tom Cruise, a little exhaustion is a mission more than worth accepting, its one worth celebrating.

3.5 / 4 Reels



  1. Nice review I might have to check it out. Did you see it in Imax?

  2. Yes I did, at a sneak preview. I didn't mention it in the review but 20% of the film was shot in IMAX. It isn't as effective as the IMAX in "The Dark Knight" but the scenes on the Burj Khalifa will really get your vertigo and fight or flight senses reacting.