FlixChatter Review: Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol

It’s been a while since the last time I was excited to see a Tom Cruise movie. I was intrigued when the first trailer came out, but it’s this featurette that got me hooked! Yes, The Dark Knight Rises prologue was a major factor of course (more on that on tomorrow’s Weekend Roundup), so those two combined is enough to get my hubby and I to shell out $16 bucks a piece to see this in IMAX!

Unlike the convoluted story of the first Mission Impossible movie, this time around the plot is pretty easy to follow, albeit predictable:

The IMF (which apparently stands for Impossible Missions Force, NOT International Monetary Fund) is shut down when it’s framed by a terrorist group in the bombing of the Kremlin, propelling Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization’s name.

I have to admit, I thought the story reminds me of a Sean Connery/Roger Moore era Bond movies, what with the stereotypical Russian villains, nuclear war threats, etc., but what makes the film works is the execution. Pixar director Brad Bird (The Incredibles) in his first foray into live action film confidently packed this movie with bombastic action sequences that thrills from start to finish!

Cruise is in top form as the super-spy/bionic man (how else do you explain him surviving multiple high-rise falls & car crashes with barely a scratch??), and his death-defying stunts are really the reason we go see a Mission Impossible movie! The Burj Khalifa scene is truly the highlight of this movie, it’s pure adrenaline-rush seeing ’em on those huge IMAX screens! If you have vertigo, you might already passed out at this point as the camera pans down vertically to make you feel as if you were right on top of the building along with Cruise. Even my palms got a bit sweaty seeing this whole scene, but just like a fun roller coaster ride, seeing him perched 2000+ feet above the ground is absolutely thrilling to watch. When that scene is over, I wish I could rewind it and see it over again! I tell you, this scene alone alone is worth the IMAX admission price for me.

Fortunately, the level of excitement doesn’t go downhill after that. The sandstorm chase scene and the suspense inside the Burj Khalifa hotel itself are pretty engaging. Each high-octane action sequence advances the storyline instead of simply being there as crowd-pleasers. Ethan and his team work well together, thanks to a talented crew of actors. Jeremy Renner is obviously a capable actor, and he’s quite likable here (I wasn’t too keen on him in The Town). I’m starting to warm up slightly to the idea of him taking over the franchise. This scene of him hanging with his hands spread wide is a classic Mission Impossible shot, so perhaps this is the producers’ way of signaling the audience that he’s the next Ethan Hunt??

This movie also seems a lot more whimsical than before. Even though Simon Pegg was also in the previous installment, the script calls for even more comic relief all around. Even the beginning prison scene and the one inside the Kremlin is quite hilarious. I think it’s wise that the screenwriters didn’t take a movie like this too seriously, I mean the title alone should warn you NOT to expect a profound espionage thriller.

Paula Patton brings on the sex appeal in droves as the bad ass agent Carter. This mission is more of a personal vendetta for her as the intro indicates, so her role is more than just the sexy agent, though of course there is a time when her sensuality is crucial to the mission. In the scene of her wearing the green dress with slit up-to-there, she has a similar grand entrance out of the sports car like Maggie Q did in MI3. Well, if it ain’t broke, why fix it, right? Slumdog Millionaire‘s Anil Kapoor brings on the sleaze as the Indian rich guy Carter has to seduce, and Patton does it with aplomb.

Ghost Protocol plays like a popcorn Summer blockbuster, I’m surprised this movie didn’t open in July as I’d think it’d still fare pretty well against the competition. As I said before, the story is pretty generic with the villain by the name Cobalt (Michael Nyqvist) hellbent on starting WWIII for seemingly no particular reason. I’ve never seen the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo film, but I’d think Nyqvist was more effective in that one. That’s just one of the things that keep this from being a GREAT movie.

That said, Brad Bird’s confident direction and the inventive actions scenes makes this movie work. Just like in 007 movies, the iconic theme song for the MI franchise is also used to great effect here and complement the robust scenes perfectly. By the end you’d be willing to forgive quibbles such as Hunt being indestructible as if he were injected with adamantium, and even that darn ‘mission accomplished’ line.

4 out of 5 reels

So what do you think of this movie? Are you a fan of the MI franchise? I’d love to hear what you think.