REVIEW: “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”

“Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” is the fourth installment in Tom Cruise’s action spy series and it’s also the best of the bunch. It’s a fast paced summer-styled popcorn picture that is perfectly constructed and moves from one big action set piece to another with an almost rhythmic and poetic flow. I wasn’t surprised that I liked the film. But I was surprised at how polished and effective this Mission Impossible movie was.

Director Brad Bird, best known for his Oscar winning work in animated films such as “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille”, makes his live action debut and one of my biggest questions was how he would make the transition. Bird is to be commended for his handling of material that necessitates moving from location to location and not allowing the audience to spend too much time thinking about plot details. He melds together those fun elements from high octane action movies and clever spy pictures and the result is an energetic, globetrotting, gadget-filled piece of robust entertainment.

Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt and he is in true movie star form. He and his team is framed for a terrorist attack on the Kremlin which leads the President to execute “Ghost Protocol”, the complete disavowing of the IMF. On their own and with limited resources, the team seeks to track down the individual responsible for the bombing, a dangerous mystery man who works under the name of “Cobalt” played beautifully by Michael Nyqvist. Cruise continues to be a perfect fit as Ethan Hunt and he’s certainly comfortable in the role. Simon Pegg returns as the team’s tech geek and comic relief and Paula Patton is a field agent with information on the bombing. But the best addition to the team is Jeremy Renner as William Brandt, and IMF analyst with a few secrets of his own. Renner gives a more reserved performance than what we have seen from him in films such as “The Hurt Locker” and “The Town”. This role required a bit more subtlety and Renner nails it.

The story moves all over the globe stopping at locations such as Moscow, Dubai, and India. The movie captures each location with energy and vibrancy and I was completely engaged. The action scenes are huge and sometimes jaw-dropping and Bird’s visual style makes it easy to overlook the sheer unbelievability of some of the sequences. The Dubai skyscraper scene alone is worth the ticket price. The gadgetry is as futuristic and outlandish as anything we’ve seen in the series but who cares? It works perfectly in this picture. I could go on and on but simply put, “Ghost Protocol” is technically flawless. Now just imagine it in IMAX.

As with the other Mission Impossible films, the plot does fall together a little too neatly and sometimes you just have to take things at face value. But the film moves along at such a fast pace that you’re never left to dwell on it. To be honest, I didn’t care that everything fell together so smoothly. I was having too much fun. Even at over two hours the film never lost me. “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” is getting a lot of critical praise even though it’s not the type of movie that would get awards buzz. But I judge a good movie by many things and one of them is how much fun I have watching it. Based on that, “Ghost Protocol” is surprisingly one of the better movies of 2011.

VERDICT – 4 STARS

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