Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol

If you love great action choreography, a serious movie that still manages to be funny, sexy cars, or seeing Tom Cruise run really fast, then you should watch Ghost Protocol. The Mission Impossible franchise has taken a couple of chances in its four installments. With the third one, they entrusted it with a director who’d never directed a feature before, making it the largest budget film for a debuting filmmaker. This time, they picked a director who had never directed a feature live-action film before. Seems like a big risk, but when you think about it, who better to direct an action film than someone with so much experience in computer generated animation. Animators have to calculate shots and actions to precision. I’ve seen an animator work. They actually get up and simulate the action just to be sure of how it’s supposed to look.
With that said, Ghost Protocol is really good where it matters, in the action. It begins with an extraction mission, which leads to probably the most exciting set up of the title sequence in the series. It moves briskly to the mission: break into the Kremlin to find documents that could lead them to the person who might be responsible for the failing of another of the group’s mission. They come to the realization that they were not alone in the mission, which sets them off to a globetrotting adventure from to Dubai and Mumbai.
In between, he meets the IMF secretary who informs him that Ghost Protocol has been commissioned and that they are to work independently to solve the mess they are in. This means no support, no funding and no back-up. For the biggest mission the IMF has had to encounter, they’re working with much less than they’ve ever had for resources. With Benji for technical support, field agent Jane Carter, ‘analyst’ Brandt and a container with all their equipment, Hunt has to annihilate the threat of nuclear war that is about to be waged by Hendricks, this installment’s villain.
What I loved about Ghost Protocol is that the locations that they go to are essential to the action. In Dubai, the centerpiece to the action is the Burj Khalifa, and in Mumbai, it’s a motorized parking lot. Ethan Hunt is probably the only agent that can break out from confinement in an unfamiliar city with nothing more than pants and five minutes later, he has contacted mission control.
Once the film hits the pedal, it doesn’t let go. From the moment they arrive at the Burj, the action goes on for a huge amount of time, which leads me to believe the Dubai scenes must have taken forever to film. And to consider that most of those scenes had to be shot on location as opposed to an assembled set. In probably the most awe-inspiring scene of the year, Hunt hangs from the side of the Burj by nothing more than suction gloves. Even on a non-IMAX screen, this scenes might give you a headrush. Cruise shot these scenes himself and as much as you’re sure they had cables securing him to the building, it looks pretty scary. In one amazingly cool sequence, he runs the entire width of the building, and as carefully as I looked, there seemed to be no CGI involved.
The actual mission inside the hotel is very well written and directed as there are two components that are not only reliant on each other, but have to work simultaneously. The fact that they do not have a lot of details to do with this mission (since they have no support), makes this scene even more interesting. The ensuing foot-cum-car chase in the middle of the desert elements adds to the excitement. One thing I’m not sure about, though, is how fast the pursuee was was, considering his age.
The film has some forgiveable product placement as they are well orchestrated into the story. Unlike in Dark of the Moon, where you rolled your eyes when a brand was shown, here you might actually find yourself drooling at the sight of the products. From a Macbook Air, iPads and a really sexy BMW. If you are an IT geek, you might also salivate to a shot of some Dell hardware. In one of the fight scenes, they exchange punches and kicks over, under and around another BMW.
As mentioned earlier, the film rarely let’s up after the action begins. The credit goes to the direction. Even in the moments of relative lull, there’s a sense of excitement. But this shouldn’t be surprising. Brad Bird’s Pixar flick, The Incredibles, is probably one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen. The writing by Andre Nemec and Josh Applebaum is probably the strongest so far in the series. The film doesn’t totally have to rely on the action like the others. I don’t like it when action films also try to be funny. Most of the times, it just doesn’t work. Here, it does. They’re not getting nominated for any screenplay awards, though.
I don’t think this is a film that performance is important but I have to mention that it felt right. I wasn’t sure about pushing Pegg to a more prominent role, but he blends well with the rest. His conversation with Renner on the plane was pretty funny and considering that they’re left to continue the franchise, we can say that the series has been left in good hands. The handover at the end was pretty cool and you actually feel excited about the changes that the series will inevitably undergo.
For some time, Tom Cruise was the business when it came to action and also, the most powerful name in Hollywood. Then came the period of failure (in Cruise terms at least) and even loathing from fans and the media. I don’t know if he has any intentions of staying in the action game, but if he is, this film surely launches him back and cements his credentials in the genre. Move over, Statham. There’s a new, kinda old action star in town.

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