Friday, December 30, 2011

My Review of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)

I have not seen any other Mission Impossible films before this one, but when I had heard news of a fourth film, I merely wrote it off as another unnecessary sequel that Hollywood was playing it safe on. But when I saw the awesome trailer, I wanted to see the movie, completely disregarding the fact that I haven't seen any of the other films in the series. So I guess you could say that I dove headfirst into this film almost completely blind Well, I suppose that's not entirely true, as the film had excellent word of mouth during its initial release, saying it was the best of the series. Now obviously I can't say if it is, because I haven't any other films to judge it on, but on its own, I'd say that Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is one of the best films of the year. I have only a few basic expectations of action films, one of which is that they entertain me and another is that they have some brains behind them. MI4 definitely fulfills those expectations and then some, providing some fun spy thrills and exhilarating action. I did not see it in IMAX due to the fact that there is only one IMAX theatre in my town, so there was no Dark Knight Rises prologue, but regardless, this is a movie entirely worth watching for what it is, not just what comes before.

This film starts in Budapest, where an unknown agent is shot at by several people and then eventually killed by a female assassin. We then cut to a Russian prison, where several prisoners manage to break out of their cells and attack the guards. It turns out this prison contains Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and the prisoners were let out by Benji (Simon Pegg), a lab tech from the other films (so I hear) who was promoted to field agent between films who will serve as comic relief. The mission is successful and it is after the mission where we meet Agent Carter (Paula Patton) one of the agents that we will be seeing throughout the course of the film.

Agent Carter was involved with the mission at the beginning and her demon to battle over the course of the film is that she feels responsible for the death of the agent in the beginning. The mission that failed was an attempt to get nuclear launch codes, which is the main mission for the rest of the movie. To do so, Hunt and his team have to infiltrate the archive room of the Kremlin. I suppose I should specify about the launch codes. Hunt and his team have to get the launch codes to take them out of the hands of a nuclear extremist known as "Cobalt" (Michael Nyqvist) who feels that the weak must die for the strong to survive and that nuclear war is the next necessary stage in human evolution.

Unfortunately, I won't tell you how, but this mission ends in the exploding of the Kremlin. This is basically Russian 9-11, and the team is blamed for it. After escaping from Russian agents at a hospital, Hunt is rescued by IMF's secretary and his chief analyst William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), who will play a big part later. The secretary invokes the titular ghost protocol after the Russians consider the attack an unprovoked act of war. Ironic, considering the secretary was there to deliver some sort of official act of frienship. This means that the entire IMF is disavowed and Hunt, as well as Benji, Brandt and Agent Carter are on their own. The attack will be pinned on them and they will be allowed to "escape" government custody to solve their case and defeat "Cobalt". So, it is up to Hunt, Carter, Dunn, and Brandt to get the launch codes out of "Cobalt"'s hands and prevent total nuclear war.

That's all that I'm going to tell you about the story because quite frankly, that's all that needs to be said. The film sets up a simple objective and drags that objective across the globe, creating one hell of an exciting film with some absolutely gorgeous scenery that I'll talk about later. Part of the excellence of this film is due to the immensely talented director, Brad Bird. Mission Impossible has run the gamete of directors over the course of the series, Brian DePalma, John Woo, and J.J. Abrams directing before Bird. Abrams is still producing this film and it has his signature touch, especially in the way of special effects. I adore Abrams' style and it definitely comes through in this film, as well as the kinetic style of action that Bird uses in The Incredibles, an equally thrilling film with some awesome set pieces.

I was unsure how a director that has worked almost entirely in the field of animation could handle a live-action movie, but after seeing this film, I was thorougly impressed and now I can't wait to see how Andrew Stanton will do with John Carter come March. Not unlike The Incredibles, Mission Impossible has some dazzling action scenes that take place all over the world, from Dubai to Mumbai. Having international set pieces means the audience has some truly amazing scenery to feast their eyes on. The sets are so well put together that I would not be surprised if the film picked up an Oscar nomination for art direction (as well as editing, sound mixing, and maybe score).

Out of the three main locations where the action takes place, my favourite is Dubai, where the team has to divert a meeting from Cobalt's right-hand man and the lady assassin from the beginning of the film. Perhaps the most notorious scene in Dubai was that of Tom Cruise hanging off of the world's tallest building (which I'd like to visit someday as it looks really damn awesome). This image has graced the trailers and promotional materials, and if you see the movie for any other reason than to see the Dark Knight Rises prologue, see it for that scene. But fair warning, those who are frightened of heights may get slightly nervous by proxy seeing Cruise hanging off of that tower. I have a heights thing sometimes and although I did not see the film in IMAX, my palms got sweaty all the same. It's still pretty awesome though, and I can't imagine how awesome and suspenseful it would be in IMAX. There is also a sandstorm chase scene in Dubai (inspiration for the poster design), and a parking garage chase in Mumbai, amongst other things that I don't want to tell you because you should see the movie for yourself. 

There are also some very interesting gadgets, like Jeremy Renner's magnet suit and  Tom Cruise's adhesive gloves  which he uses to scale Burj Khalifa amongst other things (you'll know after seeing the movie)  being a spy movie and all, and although some of the tech could not possibly exist in real life, you don't exactly expect realism coming out of a spy movie like Mission Impossible, do you? That reminds me, MI4 is probably the best spy movie that has come out since Casino Royale, or at least the most entertaining. It feels like a spy movie through and through, and although it may not be Bond or Bourne, it doesn't need to be. What it is is thoroughly entertaining, and a lot of the mission scenes provide the film's humour. One particular example is when Pegg and Cruise are infiltrating the Kremlin. There is no dialogue, and yet the scene is hilarious just with their facial expressions and nonverbal cues. Pegg, the rest of the cast too for that matter, manage to get some funny one-liners in there, but the majority of the film's humour is situational, through malfunctioning equipment and the like. It's nice that a spy movie can have a sense of humour, proving that not all of them have to be deadly serious.

Usually when a film focuses on action set pieces, it can get repetitive and occasionally too fast-paced. Mission Impossible (just like Tintin before it) doesn't seem to have that problem. There is enough time put in each location and the two-and-a-quarter hour runtime is enough time to flesh out all the sub-missions. Things move fast, but not too fast, enough to keep the audience entertained but not keeping the audience confused. The action may be the best part of the movie by far, but unlike a lot of action movies, there are solid characters and decent performances to back it up. Once again, Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt, and while I am still not a fan of Cruise as an actor, I will briefly concede and say that he is a viable action star. He gives a decent performance as Hunt, and the fact that he does most of his stunts is simply amazing. The rest of the team consists of Paula Patton as Agent Carter, who gave an excellent performance besides being just blatant fanservice (although she does wear a rather sexy green dress in Mumbai). It seemed that they were setting her up as a new love interest for Hunt but I'm still not sure what will come of that. Simon Pegg made awesome and funny comic relief as he always does no matter what genre of film he is in, and the last of the main performers is Jeremy Renner as Brandt. The trailers kind of made it look like Renner was going to take the reins from Cruise (much like Hollywood wants him to do with the Bourne movies). I don't think he will, but he gives an amazing performance (probably my favourite of the bunch) as the mysterious Brandt. It won't get him his third Oscar nomination, but it as action movie performances go, Renner was really good. All I can say is I can't wait to see him in The Avengers next summer.

Mission Impossible is definitely the best straight-up action movie this year and probably the best spy movie since Casino Royale. The action is exhilarating, suspenseful and well edited, the stuntwork is crazy, and it has some of the best set pieces that I have seen in any movie, let alone an action movie. Don't believe me, go to the theatre and watch this movie yourself.  This movie makes me want to travel, especially to see that hotel in Dubai, and it makes me want to see the rest of the Mission Impossible movies. If you've seen the other Mission Impossibles and liked them, then chances are you've made plans to see this or you've seen this already. Chances are you'll like it too. For those who go into it completely blind like I did, it'll be up to you as to whether or not to see it, but for those who do, you'll end up watching one of the best films of the year, IMAX or no IMAX.

8.9/10-  Highly Recommended, Worth Seeing in Theatres

1 comment:

  1. great review. only seen the first ages ago, may give this a shot