Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
|January 9, 2012||Posted by Sep Gohardani under entertainment, reviews|
Film Information: Released December 26 2011; Certificate 12A
Cast: Tom Cruise; Simon Pegg; Jeremy Renner; Paula Patton; Michael Nyqvist; Miraj Grbic; Samuli Edelmann; Anil Kapoor; Léa Seydoux; Ving Rhames; Michelle Monaghan
Director: Brad Bird
Screenwriters: André Nemec; Josh Applebaum
Running Time: 133 Minutes
After a mission to infiltrate the Kremlin is sabotaged, the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) is implicated in the bomb blast which destroys part of the Kremlin, landing Ethan Hunt (Cruise) in the centre of the trouble. The US government, in an attempt to fix the now very damaged relations between themselves and Russia, initiate Ghost Protocol, a move that disavows the entire IMF. Hunt and his new team, consisting of Jane Carter (Patton) and Benji Dunn (Pegg) along with IMF analyst William Brandt (Renner), must foil what they think is a plan to bring about nuclear war between Russia and the US, all without the support of the government – meaning no backup and no extra intel. Can they prevent the terrorist’s plans with the little available to them?
Having never been a great Mission: Impossible fan I found it difficult to summon enthusiasm for this film, no matter how hard I tried. The others were tacky, cheesy and full of the implausible gunk that defines the M:I series so well, with Tom Cruise (Magnolia; The Last Samurai) doing his best to pack all these fantastic qualities into his languid, vexatious acting style that takes you completely out of the story and almost forces you to laugh at his complete lack of believability.
So, with expectations as small as Michael Bay’s credibility as a director, I ambled into the cinema expecting more of the same, packing the tiniest bit of hope in the idea that Brad Bird (Ratatouille; The Incredibles) could revitalise a fundamentally tepid series in his first step out of the animated scene. Incredibly, this was actually the case, and a little ball of fun was added to the vast expanse of cheese, something that proves to be highly valuable.
Bird’s directorial style differs from the rest in his attempts to veer away from the clichéd plot lines that dominate previous M:I films, instead filling Ghost Protocol with two hours of solid action that embrace the fact that it exists to provide entertainment, putting aside all pretence of greatness. Some of the film is simply exhilarating, particularly the scenes involving the Dubai skyscrapers which almost give you the selfsame vertigo that Hunt experiences in the moment. It’s another example of Bird’s talent as he brings his animation know-how and meticulous attention to detail to his live-action début, proving to be just the man to shoot some dignity up the arm of a franchise that definitely needed it.
Cruise’s melodramatic acting style that was so irksome in previous carnations becomes less so here, as his hard-man seriousness is complemented fantastically by the ever-amusing Simon Pegg (Paul; Run Fatboy Run), who quickly becomes the best thing about the film as the skilled but occasionally idiotic technician Benji Dunn. The best moments routinely involve him, but to the film’s credit the rest of it holds up as well with competent performances from Paula Patton (Precious; Déjà Vu) and Jeremy Branner (The Town; The Hurt Locker) to add in to the generally agreeable mix. The chemistry between the actors is solid, with Pegg again coming out on top. All the melodrama that is synonymous with M:I is still present in the script, but these actors are actually good enough to draw you in to the moment, and that is more than adequate.
The cinematography is at times breathtaking. Robert Elswit pulls off some fantastic work here, his ominous shots of the massive drop from half-way up the Burj Khalifa in Dubai simultaneously awe-inspiring and terrifying. The action scenes, previously so fond of explosions and epic running, are more eloquently shot than those of past M:I films and prove to be engaging rather than simply harmful to the eardrums. Overall, the film can actually be named a success in this sense, something the previous films in the series could hardly manage.
Writers Nemec and Applebaum don’t really add much to the formula. The archetypal villain is still prominent, and a lot of the revelations prove to be disappointing rather than intriguing, ultimately not achieving their aims of making us feel sorry for the characters. It all just feels too artificial. It lacks ingenuity and leaves you underwhelmed, but ultimately I was expecting this film to be about as clever as a goldfish so I wasn’t really disappointed by the lack of cutting edge. Still, the interactions between characters are written well and there are some very good parts that deserve recognition, so credit where it’s due.
Ultimately, M:I 4 is a good yarn. The direction is vastly improved from previous installments and Simon Pegg really does boost the acting quality quite considerably. A lot of the crud that the other films dragged along with them like their film lives depended on it has been left behind, and even though the cheese is palpable and the plot line is still vastly inferior to so many other action films it is actually watchable, funny and even exciting from time to time. I thought it was a veritable Mission Impossible to try to get me to like one of these films, but it turns out I was wrong, and I must say I’m pleased about that. I could happily watch it again at home with some popcorn and a nice beer. Just please, please don’t make a film featuring the plot line that is made clear at the end. It honestly sounded astoundingly awful, so please Brad, or whoever who can hear me, don’t.