Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Mission: Accomplished

For all of its eye-popping visual effects and how much the trailer makes it look like it is trying to follow in the footsteps of the Bourne trilogy, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is actually a throwback of an action movie.  It’s a throwback to the days when action heroes would get beat up for an entire movie and show not a single bruise or scratch (although hero Ethan Hunt does feature an ever-increasing limp throughout the movie) and it’s a throwback to the days when the hero would always send off the villain with a cheesy one-liner.  In fact, this movie even starts off with one as the opening credits scroll following Ethan’s instructions to “light the fuse.”

After the fuse is lit, Ethan and his team are given the task of infiltrating the Kremlin and they do so with the help of a gadget that James Bond’s buddy Q could only dream of.  Unfortunately, someone else has beat them to the prize and Ethan soon finds himself as the number one suspect of a terrorist plot to kick-start the Cold War and turn it hot.  Our hero’s mission, should he choose to accept it, is to keep the nuclear launch codes and missile controls from falling into the wrong hands before nuclear war erupts between the Americans and the Russians.  Didn’t I tell you it was a throwback?

Because the Russians suspect IMF was involved in the plot to destroy the Kremlin, the entire agency has been disavowed.  To save the world and clear his name and that of his team, Ethan must scale the world’s tallest building, pursue a suspect through a sandstorm, and battle a suspect in a parking garage with a mind of its own.  And it all leads up to a final line so cheesy that one can only wonder how it took for something so obvious to wind up in the Mission: Impossible franchise.

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible - Ghost ProtocolDon’t let my overuse of the word “cheesy” fool you, however, as packaged in between those cheesy opening and closing lines is one of the most intense and exciting action movies to come along in a long time.  The action can only be described as insane.  Some might also describe it as over-the-top, or far-fetched, but it is so much fun that it is easy to just suspend your disbelief and go along for the ride.  And as for that cheesy closing line, never fear: the movie knowingly pokes fun at it itself in the clever epilogue.

I suppose another word that can be used to describe the action in this movie is “animated,” which makes sense considering this is the live-action directing debut for Pixar veteran Brad Bird.  Although Bird is a live-action virgin, he is no stranger to the action genre having directed The Incredibles for Pixar.  He does an excellent job, creating a visually stunning action movie that never lags. For the most part, the movie bounces quickly from one action scene to another with a minimal amount of exposition in between.  When the scenes aren’t packed with action, tension is still high, such as a great scene in which the team must complete two cons at once, using information from one to fuel the other and vice versa.  The only moment where the film slows a bit is when Jeremy Renner’s character needs to share a secret from his past, but it is so crucial to the story (and Ethan’s character) that you don’t mind a little slowdown.

As for Renner, the rumors leading up to the release were that this movie would set up his character to take over the franchise.  Although that may still be in the plans for the future, make no mistake: this is Tom Cruise’s franchise.  This is by far the actor’s best movie since the last Mission: Impossible and you can just sense how much he loves the character of Ethan Hunt, one he has really grown into throughout the franchise.  What helps is that this is the first movie in the franchise that actually recognizes the previous installment and plays like an actual sequel.  The third film added an emotional layer to the character of Ethan that was vacant in the first two films, and this latest chapter just adds to that.

The third movie in the Mission: Impossible franchise was the least successful in terms of box office, but I still contended at the time that it was the most successful of the franchise in terms of quality.  That said, it may have just been bested.  Ghost Protocol is everything an action movie should be, and lets hope the audience starts coming back.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is rated PG-13 for “sequences of intense action and violence.”  The violence is intense and there are a couple of moments where people might be compelled to look away, but there’s little in the way of blood and guts.

Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.