Movie Review: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
By Matthew Huntley
December 27, 2011
There are some ridiculously implausible scenes in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, yet we believe they are all perfectly possible in the context of the movie. This is a common trait for most action pictures, but the refreshing thing about Ghost Protocol is the characters are more aware of the risks they’re about to take and actually question whether they should take them. They know they’re not impervious to danger (even though we know they are) and it’s this balance of the inconceivable and the pragmatic that gives the movie its magic and heart.
This is a superior action picture, seamlessly woven together and thrilling to the point where even if we wanted to criticize it for its incredulity, the movie doesn’t give us an opportunity since it’s always moving. Its energy level is relentless and we’re constantly enthralled by its audacity and inventiveness, if only on action movie terms. We’re also struck by the way it suddenly brings itself down to earth. Consider a scene where two Impossible Mission Force (IMF) agents have to scan their eyes onto the door of a moving train in order gain access to the car. It seems easy enough, especially for these highly skilled individuals, but every time they try, another stationary pole gets in the way. Or how about when the movie’s hero, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), is hanging onto the side of a high-rise building and discovers his million-dollar spy equipment just doesn’t work? Such “life” moments are not only humorous, but they dilute the movie’s preposterousness and prevent it from taking itself too seriously, making it easier for us to enjoy.
I was surprised to find the fourth installment of the “M:I” series working so well, considering how old the franchise is (the first was released in 1996). Then again, why should I be surprised when the director is Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) and the star is Tom Cruise, who, despite his eccentric public life, still brings an overwhelming enthusiasm to the table? Cruise always said he wanted every M:I movie, which he also produced, to be different from the last and for each director to incorporate his own unique style. This approach has kept it going all these years and there’s no reason to think it has to let up now.
As with previous installments, the plot of Ghost Protocol is more complicated than it has to be, and most of the time we’re just following the “gist” of it, which is fine, because we could really care less about the plot. The reason we go to a movie like this is for the action and style, two elements that should almost always follow substance, but in this case, Cruise and Bird are attempting to push the envelope and there’s something to be said for that.
Several scenes have been shot in glorious IMAX 70mm, including the opening in Budapest, and from this moment on, we’re hooked (it is highly recommended to see the movie in IMAX vs. traditional cinemas; it is that good). In Budapest, an IMF agent (Josh Holloway) has intercepted launch codes that activate a nuclear missile in Russia. He’s quickly killed by a contract assassin (Léa Seydoux), who plans on selling the codes back to a Swedish terrorist who goes by the name of Cobalt (Michael Nyqvist). He, in turn, wants to start a nuclear war between the United States and Russia, hoping the two superpowers destroy themselves and every country in between so the world can cleanse itself and start afresh.