It’s been 15 years since the release of the first film, and five years since J.J. Abrams breathed new life into the franchise with the third one. We aren’t going to discuss the second film at all because it’s a waste of space. The fourth installment brings Ethan Hunt back to the screen but could it possibly be a worthy entry in a franchise whose quality has been uneven at best?
My answer to that question is a solid yes. It’s surprising that a fourth film serves as the best of the series, and it’s even more surprising that it comes from a director whose credits include animated films only. While it’s not perfect in every sense, Brad Bird (The Incredibles, The Iron Giant, Ratatouille) had proven himself a very capable live action film director with a great eye for breath-taking shots and white knuckle action.
The story, written by Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec, places Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) incarcerated in a Russian prison. Of course his incarceration is more than meets the eye and soon enough he’s sprung with the help of an IMF team. Soon enough after his “escape” the game is afoot when he’s pegged for the bombing of the Kremlin and the Impossible Missions Force is disavowed. Hunt, along with his newly formed team consisting of tech master Benji (Simon Pegg), analyst-with-a-history Brandt (Jeremy Renner), and operative-with-a-grudge Jane (Paula Patton), work together to expose the conspiracy, catch the villain known as “Cobalt”, stop a nuclear war and clear Hunt’s name.
The beauty of Ghost Protocol is the fact that the story is pretty straight forward and it plays out in the same fashion. Complaints against the previous entries have been because there have been plot twists and convoluted story lines. Here, the film takes you from point A to point B to point C without the story becoming weighed down by its own devices.
The script allows for plenty of action, and several comedic moments mostly provided by Pegg, but it strikes a perfect balance between all aspects without feeling like the writers were hand feeding the audience. It’s a fine line that they managed to walk while never leaning to far to one side or the other. The character drama is present as well and where the previous films relied heavily on Hunt’s story, this film allows for the drama to encompass the other characters as well. This film also brings the character of Ethan Hunt down a notch and makes him seem a little more human even when he’s performing super human stunts.
Jeremy Renner steps in this time as a potential future franchise lead and with his inclusion, he brings his dramatic acting skills as well as his physical action abilities. His character’s story line is one the more dramatic pieces of the puzzle and the way that piece fits was something I didn’t really see coming. I like the addition of Renner and feel that he’d be a good replacement when Cruise decides to hang up Hunt’s hoodie, but to be honest, if they decide to continue with the franchise, I’d really like to see this same team accept another impossible mission. The team chemistry was present and all of them played really well off of each other. The one absence being Luther Stickell. As much as I was hoping he’d show up, the film still worked without him.
The one area where the film suffered mainly dealt with the villain “Cobalt” aka Hendricks (played by Michael Nyqvist). While the audience is told what his plan and story are, it’s done rather quickly. While you’re able to get the idea that this guy is pretty bad, the quick explanation doesn’t lend itself to the feeling of menace that this character should have invoked. As far as villains go, Phillip Seymour Hoffman is by far the best M:I villain so far.
Thankfully this film managed to avoid the dreadful 3D virus that has infected theaters in the last couple of years. However, about 30 minutes of footage was shot in 70mm format to be shown on proper IMAX screens. If you live in an area that offers this as an option, I urge you to take advantage of it. Sometimes this can be seen as a gimmick, but that is not the case here. I actually drove 90 minutes to the closest IMAX theater just so I could report on it. The transition between those scenes were seamless and even though the whole movie isn’t shown in 70mm, the sound and image quality make it worth every penny of the higher ticket price. I don’t normally endorse such things, but if you have the means, go see this on IMAX.
Mission: Impossible has always been about, well, pulling off the impossible in exotic, crazy locations using awesome gadgets. This film ranks right up there in all of those areas, trotting the globe from Russia, to Dubai, to the far East and Seattle using crazy Spiderman type gloves as well as other nifty gadgets, but surprisingly and thankfully avoided the tried and fast becoming tired mask gimmick. Instead, this film uses its characters to tell the story, not the gadgets.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol returns the franchise to the glory it enjoyed with the first film. Its quick pace and exciting action scenes coupled with the dramatic quiet moments, make this one the best film in the franchise. If you need even more encouragement, check out the trailer below.Tags: André Nemec, Brad Bird, Jeremy Renner, Josh Appelbaum, Michael Nyqvist, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, Tom Cruise