Dec 19 2011

Unreal Movie Review: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Published by at 12:00 pm under Movies,Reviews

Who says Americans can’t have their own James Bond?

What once seemed like an eye-rolling bit of news, that there was going to be a FOURTH Mission Impossible film, has actually been an eye opening experience that perhaps there’s room for another indefinitely long running action film series in our pop culture lexicon.

Bourne is attempting to do the same thing with a fourth installment himself, but Ethan Hunt and Mission Impossible are far closer to the Bond formula, with less overarching plots and focus on realism, and more unreal action sequences and maniacal villains bent on world destruction.

And while Bond has taken a more subdued path as of late, almost looking more like Bourne himself, it appears that Hunt might be ready to take his place as our go-to action hero.

Also, see this in IMAX. Even bootleg IMAX. Unlike 3D, it’s worth the surcharge without question.

It’s an earned spot, and you’ll believe it after witnessing the sheer madness that is Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. It makes its competition look like its standing still with a non-stop sprinting pace from start to finish, and its individual action sequences are so creative and well-executed, it’s like watching a ballet integrated with gunfire and explosions.

It’s not someone like Michael Bay at the helm, thankfully. Rather we have someone who brings a coherence to his action that Bay never quite manages to find. It seems unlikely that Brad Bird, the director of Pixar’s The Incredibles and Rataouille is that guy, but somehow, some way, his years toiling in animation have prepared him to be one hell of an action director.

Mission Impossible as of late has been known for its relatively straightforward plots. The last feature had Tom Cruise chasing after his kidnapped wife, and this one? Why, it’s a madman who wants to blow something up with a nuke.

“CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?”

It’s not the most original story in supervillain history, and if the film has one flaw, it’s that its bad guys seem painfully underdeveloped and at the same time, overpowered. There are only two of them, one being a middle-aged Swedish born Russian nuclear strategist (Michael Nyqvist), and the other, his burly henchman. Between the two of them, they manage to blow up the entirety of the Kremlin, and steal and prepare to launch a full-on nuclear missile. A lot of action movies have this “infrastructure” problem where one or two villains are able to execute these impossibly grand plans without any semblance of support (see Angels and Demons most recently), but it’s particularly glaring here.

It’s just a different sort of unrealism that caught me off guard. I have no problem with Ethan Hunt climbing the side of the world’s tallest building using magnet gloves, but the fact that a paunchy scientist manages to almost destroy the world singlehandedly is a tad annoying.

The “Ghost Protocol” in the title refers to the fact that the IMF has been dismantled by the government after the Kremlin attack, which Ethan (Tom Cruise) and his team are framed for. The only familiar face returning is Benji (Simon Pegg), upgraded from tech support to field agent, but is mostly still just tech support. Then there’s the sexy Jane (Paula Patton), aiming to finish a mission that claimed the life of her agent lover (Josh Holloway), Finally late to the party arrives William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), supposedly a mere analyst, but whose fighting skills prove he’s got a few secrets and eventually boasts an important connection to Ethan.

Despite the chain mail, he’s not secretly a Knight’s Templar.

With only say, a few billion dollars worth of does-not-exist technology, the team has to track down the pieces require to launch the nuke, and while the plot is relatively simple, the means to unravel it is not.

The film is an experience to say the least, particularly in the first few rows of an IMAX theater where the non-stop action will have every muscle in your body tense for a full two hours. The set pieces are amazing, every single one of them, and each action sequence in itself could have been the grand finale of some other movie, but here they’re all strung together in an impossible opera of chaos. Shooting on location in places like Dubai and Mumbai gives the film an authenticity that many other CGI heavy blockbusters lack, and say what you will about Tom Cruise off screen, but on it? His Ethan Hunt is one of our greatest working action heroes.

There were rumors that this film was meant to be a torch passing to Jeremy Renner to continue Cruise’s saga after he departs. Honestly, I hope they keep making more of these with Cruise at the helm, and Renner can tag along if he wants. As there are no real overarching story threads that need to be resolved, just an evil plot and a mission to stop it, there’s no reason they can’t keep this series going indefinitely. And I have a hunch that might be exactly what they’ll do.

4.5 out of  5 stars

 





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9 responses so far

  • the Dylanthropist

    For all the billions of dollars spent on their technology, its funny how none of it works. Seriously.

    Great movie though! best MI in a while! probably since the first!

  • carlip

    cant they find a different actor? my disdain for Mr. Cruise will not allow me to watch this film… How many different James Bonds were there by the way?

  • Blair

    I loved the film, but where did they keep getting their individually tailored suits? Was there a tailor in that train carriage?

  • Alain

    Millions of dollars spent but they still couldn’t fill the plot holes. Great action movie though.

  • Asogan

    Watched it last night and loved it (despite Cruise being in it). Don’t expect anything philosophical or thought provoking. It’s a great action movie with a good dose of humour that makes it work.

  • FilthyMcNasty

    OMG – will you fvcking Cruise haters stop with the whining already? You don’t like his movies, then don’t go – simple as that. It’s hard to imagine the pathetic people who feel the need to not only be SOOO fvcking judgmental, but to also be attention wh0res wasting time and energy to post to an online site seeking whatever sad affirmation of their dimwitted views by like-minded imbeciles. Give it up – Cruise Hating is like so last year. It would be funny if they weren’t so sad; aww WTF, it’s funny AND sad.. LOL!! Awww LOL!! Awww

  • JC

    Quite frankly, this movie was a vast joke!
    I really didn’t like it. I have nothing against Cruise, and I don’t care for what he says off screen. Actually, as an actor he does a good job on screen but this movie is way too braindead for him to save it.
    Let’s start of with the dumbest plot ever:
    So one guy comes in the kremlin, passes all security checks while carrying a HUGE bomb, piggy backs some encrypted radio transmission that apparently half of Moscow can also listen to. Blows off the kremlin and walks off unharmed while Cruise about 15 meters behind him is knocked out and you can see stone flying ABOVE his head meaning they would definitely hit 20/50 meters radius beyond him…
    Let’s keep on this bad guy, not only does he have a 190 IQ (LOL at the debitility of this “fact”) but despite being 50 or so he still kicks ass and puts quite a fact after being in a frontal crash, and receiving a bunch of punches in the face… I mean come on!
    The kremlin scene: a vast joke once more: Cruise’s russian is barely passable and he would give him away instantly (try American 5 star general speaking like speedy gonzales…) oh and he doesn’t care for ranks either in the way he talks to the major who guards the entry. Oh and while he is on the catwalk in the goddamn Kremlin corridor while he is supposed to imperson a Russian general is laughable too.
    I’ll pass on shooting the Kremlin scene in Prague’s castle (they can’t have SUCH a budget after all and it is not AS bad as Paris’s Gi-JOE.
    So Cruise’s arrested they remove his jacket, his shoes but NOT his belt?! WTF! Basic rule when you arrest any suspect his to remove the belt: every polic force in the world knows this… It’s even more ridiculous that he is actually suddenly wearing jeans and not the green suit trousers he had minutes earlier…
    So they get to Dubai where we see a lot more Apple product placement. Funny when you consider the US military uses android and not iPhones specifically because an iPhone ain’t really a “rugged” product. Even funnier is the Dell Streak used there but I won’t go on onto Hollywood’s conception of technnologies :)
    Let’s skip to the chases in the streets: a 50 YO guy actually runs faster than Cruise? even after a frontal car crash… Mumbai: same thing.
    This movie has nothing on all the James Bonds and Bourne: the plot is flawed to such an extent that the only thing saving it are the action scenes. This movie goes into the same garbage as Transformer IMHO

  • MetFanMac

    “…we have someone who brings a coherence to his action that Bay never quite manages to find. It seems unlikely that Brad Bird is that guy…”

    Have you forgotten the amazing action setpieces in The Incredibles and the fluid cinematography of Ratatouille?

  • jd

    Well someone’s overly critical right here in the comments. Wow just wow. With that level of analysis and deep thought per scene, I wonder what movies will count as entertaining for him/her?

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