I need to preface everything I am about to say by stating that I am in no way what you would consider a fan of action movies. Comic book movies are usually my standard fare, but that’s another genre altogether.
That said, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (from here on out, MI:4) is a GREAT MOVIE. The action makes sense and unlike most of the high octane flicks of the last decade, we aren’t inundated with a seizure-inducing amount of jump cuts, so it’s easy to follow on a visual level. I’ve seen the original Tom Cruise MI countless times, partly because it was hard to follow the five W’s of the events occurring. In MI:4, it seems like director Brad Bird is aware of how easy it is to get lost in the shuffle of these espionage adventures with all their mini-plots and moving parts. Every so often, Ethan Hunt (Cruise) briefs his team on what’s about to happen, to whom, and why, which doubles as keeping the audience up to speed. In a way, I guess it’s a bit expository and dumbed down, but this is a movie that features magnetic gloves that stick to glass, so whatevs.
The plot focuses on Hunt’s team trying to find the culprit behind the bombing of the Kremlin, which Hunt, naturally, is accused of. As his quartet of spies goes on a Eurasian manhunt for the mastermind, Hendricks – played by Michael Nyqvist* of the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fame – they are also being pursued by the Russians who believe them to be the villains. Benny Hill music plays throughout.
(No, not really.)
*It’s nice to see the relative no-names from that Swedish trilogy cross over into international appeal. (Last week it was Noomi Rapace in Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows.)
If IMDB is to be believed, this is the first movie of its kind directed by Bird, whose name will always be synonymous with the golden age of The Simpsons as far as I’m concerned. He also directed The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille, so yeah, nothing like this. I’m not sure how he made this leap, but it certainly works.
In addition to the paint-by-numbers, easy-to-follow plot and clear visuals, we’ve got a decent backstory that advances the characters, particularly Hunt and his subordinate Agent Brandt (Jeremy Renner).
The other things this movie gets right are Paula Patton being hot and a fairly unique demise for Hendricks. (C’mon, if you think THAT’S a spoiler, you’ve never been the movies.)
It’s also nice to see that these MI flicks could give Bond a run for his money. The beats are similar with exotic settings, crazy gadgets – Hunt’s BMW in MI:4 defies the physics of cool – absurd death traps and megalomaniacs. The difference lies in the team dynamic, which is always fun, and that Hunt feels more human than the cool, calm, collected Bond. Don’t get me wrong, Cruise plays a suave action hero, but there are times in the film when he and his team are every bit bumbling as they are super-secret spyish. And I like that.
I’m doubly impressed that Tom Cruise still has a noteworthy career in Hollywood after going crazy. You gotta love America. It’s all about comebacks, baby!
The sole negative of this movie is Simon Pegg’s character Benji, the resident tech nerd who is predictably obnoxious and needs a bullet between the eyes. Fortunately, there are enough car chases, automatic rifles, explosions and sandstorms to negate his presence. But not enough bullets between the eyes.
If you’re of the ilk to say “Bah Humbug!” to the holidays, I’d recommend a night of Chinese take-out and MI:4.