I’m always surprised when a sequel beyond three really wows me, and so far that’s happened twice this year. The first was Final Destination 5 and the second is Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. I have seen every M: I movie except for the first (I know blasphemy!). I’m one of the few who really enjoys Mission: Impossible 2 and Mission: Impossible 3 was okay but nothing special. The fourth, directed by Brad Bird, is non-stop action, some great one-liners, a cast sizzling with chemistry, and a direction worthy of shelling out extra money for a bigger screen. I was surprised at how enthralled I was not just with the film, but of seeing it in a theater.
Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has been busted out of a Russian prison and is immediately thrown into a mission hunting down a man named Cobol aka Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist) who holds Russian nuclear codes. When the Kremlin is blown up in the pursuit, Hunt and the entire IMF department is disavowed in an operation known as Ghost Protocol. Now rouge agents, Hunt and his team come together to carry out their final mission and stop Hendricks from creating nuclear war.
I’m a big fan of Brad Bird and oddly enough, Ghost Protocol has a few moments that are reminiscent of his film The Iron Giant. Who knew an animated kids film about the 1950s would connect to a Tom Cruise action vehicle? The similarities are in the fears of nuclear war at the hands of Russians, not only giving this movie a Cold War element but also making it hearken back to an 80s action movie. The film doesn’t give the audience excessive plot or exposition. The highly entertaining opening involves getting Ethan out of a Russian prison with a plan involving a prison riot and a little Dean Martin. The film is quirky in some of the plan executions whether it’s in a line delivery or something, either way plans aren’t taken completely seriously. The highly advertised moment of Ethan hanging out of the Burj Kahlifa building is set up with tech geek Benjy (Simon Pegg) telling Ethan the gloves he’s designed will definitely work, unless they don’t.
The chemistry between the team is what sells this movie and everyone is expertly cast. I hate admitting how every Tom Cruise movie sucks me in but Cruise continues to shine in this role. It’s not enough he hasn’t aged a day and can slide, run, jump like a Terminator, but he’s so personable and charming you can’t help but get wrapped up in his adventures. New team members Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and Jane (Paula Patton) are also amazing fleshed out and have distinct personalities. Renner pretty much plays the character as a prequel to his role in the upcoming Bourne movie and he proves he’s up to the task. He’s gruffer and less charming than Cruise but he’s action oriented for sure. Patton is gorgeous, straight off, and I continue to love seeing her in movies. She’s elegant, smart, take charge, she’s what Angelina Jolie used to be pre-babies and I say give Paula Patton the roles Angie used to be good for. Simon Pegg continues to be good for a laugh but really isn’t utilized outside of “geek.”
I generally refuse to pay to see movies in 3-D or on HD, Ultimate Cinema screens as the movies are generally not made with those screens in mind and the ticket price never justifies it. Unfortunately, I was only able to see this in Ultimate Cinema and I was not disappointed. Bird and company use up the entire screen for this movie, taking full advantage of the enhanced size. Scenes like the aforementioned Burj Kalifa sequence, the finale on some type of car conveyor belt, even just scenes on a train are all stretched to give off maximum depth and the fight scenes are all over the screen. I generally say “you won’t miss much if you don’t shell out the extra price” but I’m recommending seeing this in some type of enhanced screen (not necessarily IMAX), and in some cases it’s only offered in an enhanced medium but boy is it worth it! If more movies utilize the bigger screens they might finally get my money.
The film’s faults are negligible, and mainly involve baddie Hendricks. Nyvquist isn’t that dynamic of a presence. I just kept remember he was the bad guy. Since the film doesn’t go deeply into plot I kept having to remember why we were chasing him, you get so wrapped up in the action you forget the story. Also, the ending is a bit weak and tacked-on, including a character that up until the very end everyone thought was dead. It’s a token cameo and wasn’t really necessary, especially since the movie clocks in at over two hours. Again, these were negligible and didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the film.
I keep being surprised by the Mission: Impossible movies and dare I say Ghost Protocol is the best? The acting is superb, the chemistry of the team was engaging and there were so many amazing action sequences you’ll gasp out loud. If you can spare the expense see it on a bigger than average screen, you won’t be disappointed.
Author: Kristen Lopez, Editor in Chief
Kristen Lopez is the editor-in-chief of CC2K and a freelance pop culture essayist. Her work has appeared on Roger Ebert, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Daily Beast. When she’s not burning down Film Twitter she runs two podcasts, the female-centric film show Citizen Dame, and the classic film-themed Ticklish Business.