Thursday, September 24, 2015

Movie Review - Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

-- Mission: Impossible Week --
Please note that all Mission: Impossible Week film reviews may contain spoilers related to both the film that is being reviewed and other films in the series.
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)
Starring Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Vladimir Mashkov, Josh Holloway, Anil Kapoor, and Léa Seydoux
Directed by Brad Bird

***The review below was originally published on May 27, 2011.  Reading it over, my feelings are pretty much the same now as they were then.  Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is a really solid film and the best film in the Mission: Impossible series.  By far the funniest flick of the bunch (I laughed out loud when the machine that makes the famous Mission: Impossible face masks broke down), Ghost Protocol is also filled with great action sequences -- some of which should be noted for their surprising lack of weaponry and combat, but instead for their ability to create tense moments from something as simple as a desert dust storm.  Enjoy my original review below.***

Although Mission: Impossible II was one of my least favorite movies the year it came out, I don't utterly detest the Mission: Impossible series of films.  Maybe it's just the catchy theme music -- which really is one of the best tv theme songs ever created -- but it's probably more that I like the gadgety spy vibe that runs throughout.  I had heard really good things about animation director Brad Bird's first foray into live action filming.  Fortunately, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol did not disappoint and is probably the best action flick to come out of 2011.

Part of the reason for its success is that this Mission: Impossible has an odd joyfulness to it that I don't remember at all in previous incarnations in this series.  There's a humor here that I wasn't expecting and it added a breath of fresh air to the typical explosions and chase scenes that are part and parcel of a film of this ilk.  Certainly much of the chuckles come thanks to Simon Pegg who is the gadget guru Benji, part of the special team headed by Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt, who after being rescued from a Russian prison finds himself on a mission (impossible) to hunt down a Swedish nuclear weapon expert (Michael Nyqvist) deadset on starting a world war.  Aided by Jane Carter (a very solid [and sexy] Paula Patton), Ethan and his team travel from Moscow to Dubai to India tracking down the baddie.

It also helps matters that the story is very straightforward -- read: easy to comprehend.  Sometimes spy films like this tend to throw more info at you than you really need -- red herrings here, ridiculously convoluted background information there.  MI4 doesn't do that at all and I don't mean this as an insult to it.  Don't think that things are overly simplified -- it's just that Brad Bird and his screenwriters have pared things down to be exactly what is needed to make this story fly by.  Bird also crafts his action sequences without the superfluous quick edits and nonstop explosions that are so prevalent in movies today.  There are some genuinely exciting moments here that rely on tension rather than rapid movement to succeed and that's often a rarity nowadays.

Unfortunately, I think the film falters a tiny bit in two areas.  One, Jeremy Renner's character of a government official who is forced to become part of Ethan's team seemed to simply be there to attempt to craft future movies around him.  He isn't really given a lot to do and although he's fine in the role, this is the one point in the movie that probably could've been fleshed out a bit more.  Secondly, the final act of the movie seems almost unnecessary.  When the team moves to India, I couldn't help but think things could've ended in Dubai to much greater effect -- not all movies need to be two hours and ten minutes long.  The final action sequence (which was genuinely tense and exciting) could so easily have taken place in Dubai that the move to India only screamed "Look at our budget!" to me.

Still, those are actually minor quibbles in the grand scheme of things because Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol really excels in all areas -- acting, directing, writing -- where most action movies nowadays fail miserably.

The RyMickey Rating:  B+

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