Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

The Mission: Impossible film series leaps into its fourth installment with the brisk, exciting Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. This is the best movie in the series and it packs a wallop throughout, bristling with amazing set pieces, action scenes and mind-blowing scenery. The film’s central segment, involving the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, is astounding and exhilarating.

Brad Bird’s first live action feature is everything a blockbuster should be. It plays out simply and with elegant precision, never overstaying its welcome or wearing things down with too much emotion. We care about the characters just enough to see them want to get by, but, for the most part, we just want to see things happen at breakneck speed.

Tom Cruise is back as IMF team leader Ethan Hunt. He’s in a Moscow prison and it’s up to Benji (Simon Pegg) and Jane (Paula Patton) to break him out. After the breakout, Hunt and his team are required to head to the Kremlin to find the identity of someone named Cobalt (Michael Nyqvist). Cobalt is attempting to start nuclear war.

The chase after Cobalt takes the team around the world as they try to track down critical nuclear launch codes. They are joined by William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), an analyst with a secret, and wind up being disavowed in the process after the government invokes “ghost protocol” to handle the fallout from the explosive situation at the Kremlin.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol works as a James Bond-style thrillride with plenty of exotic locales and head-scratching but fascinating gadgets. The IMF team is able to accomplish the impossible through the use of various pieces of computer equipment and this leads to some stunning scenes, including one where Renner’s character is essentially remote-controlled by Benji.

The Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, becomes a monstrous character all its own as Ethan and the team have to work a little magic inside. When a hang-up means that Ethan has to scale the building’s exterior, there’s no time (or reason, really) to wonder why Benji just happens to have the special gloves needed to stick to the windows. The colour-coded warning sign (“blue is glue, red is dead”) adds another layer of tension to the nail-biting sequence.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol also benefits from never taking itself too seriously. Despite the fact that the dialogue is wooden and the performances, save for Renner’s and Pegg’s, don’t really bring much to the table, the film comes off really well. Cruise is somehow not as annoying or grating as he usually is and Patton, especially in The Dress, is a delight to breathe in.

Bird’s picture is a cool, thrilling action movie that should prove as the blueprint for how to seamlessly integrate CGI, big scale set pieces and cardboard characters into over two hours of entertainment. It’s a long way off from the clunky, tepid, inane elements of summer popcorn ventures by the likes of Michael Bay, yet I’m hard-pressed to suggest that Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is anywhere near sophisticated. It’s just a fun ride.

Trailer:

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