Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” opens wide this Wednesday, but opened on IMAX screens across the country Friday night. Starring Tom Cruise as IMF agent Ethan Hunt, it’s the story of an espionage team who are set up as the culprits in a terrorist attack they didn’t commit, and subsequently disavowed by their agency and their government. Yet due to their proximity to the events at hand, they wind up privy to knowledge that could stop the real culprits, and prevent nuclear war.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is a hyper-charged action film with a surprising amount of humor.

“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” is the first live action movie for director Brad Bird (“Iron Giant”, “The Incredibles”, “Ratatouille”). He does a remarkable job here of coming up with a number of jaw dropping, gasp inducing action sequences, bringing them to the screen via spectacular visual effects, and then stringing them together in a well paced manner, giving the audience just enough time to catch their breath between them. The movie is 90% action, yet I wouldn’t call it overkill… it’s a kinetic film, always on the run, and even when it slows, it’s merely a little climb before the roller coaster hits another drop.

Several of the sequences are memorable. They all felt original. But the scene where Cruise scales the Burj Khalifa wearing the “blue is glue, red is dead” gloves will be the one that leaves people talking. It’s quite a feat of movie making, and I can’t wait to see a “Making of” special feature. On screen it’s a fantastic segment, using incredible visual effects to create an insane level of tension. The theatre was gasping and audibly squirming (with little nervous whimpers) as it played.

From the trailers, I had expected as much. I mean, they teased the action and the effects shots properly (although the Kremlin blowing up is a far cooler shot than the trailer hints). What I didn’t expect was how funny it would be. Certainly no one expects Simon Pegg to be on board to add dramatic heft, but the entire team gets quips and humor beats. You can tell Bird cut his chops in animated fare, where you have to be able to throw several different types of pitches (Humor, heart, action…), because here he frequently goes to the funny, and it never seems out of place. I was surprised – pleasantly surprised – at just how much humor was worked in.

There are a few things that keep me from scoring it higher, though. The big one to me, is the lack of a great villain. Listen, not ALL of the action sequences in this flick are awesome, but enough of them are that, from an action standpoint, this movie earns a place in the “Greatest Action Films of All Time” discussion. Yet I would dismiss it immediately because… the villain is barely even given any dialogue, his motivations suck, I mean… we barely ever get to know who this guy they’re up against IS. All the great action movies have great villains. Sometimes multiple great villains (take Goldfinger with Auric Godlfinger and Oddjob, or Raiders with Belloq and Toht). Even its immediate predecessor – MI:3 – had a strong, integral villain. Here,  they’re accomplishing a mission, not stopping a man.

Perhaps the main thing, though, would be some of the times when it… well, I certainly wouldn’t call any of the action sequences cartoonish, but a couple of them definitely strain the limits of credulity. Also, I understand that half of the point of the technology in these things is to be super advanced and to wow the audience with super secret semi-futuristic devices which we would believe that only high-tech government agencies could possess. But there are times when some of them test your suspension of disbelief. At one point the team actually opens a portal to an alternate universe in order to escape pursuers.

Ok, no they don’t, but if they do in MI:5, it’ll be a logical progression, lets just say that.

They’re minor complaints, though. “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” is an excellent time at the theatre. This is a ride worth the price of your ticket, without a question. It starts up smoothly, shifts gears a couple of times, and before you know it you’re racing through the runtime, being awed by the action sequences and laughing intermittently. If it becomes a smash hit this holiday season and Paramount announces they’re immediately launching production on MI:5? My reaction will be, “Sweet.”


19 thoughts on “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

  1. Where did u see MI 4? I thought it hit the screens next week. I like the action scenes in these movies. MI 3 had great action and i will agree a great villian. When u have a crazy whacked out villian who is trying to take over the world for his own diabolical reasons it makes the movie more entertaining. Most of the Bond films had the crazy villian which helped to make the movie.

    • It does. It opens on regular screens on Wednesday. It opened last night in IMAX theatres though. I caught it in Plainville (its near work for me) but I think Buckland Hills would probably be the closest for us….

      You’re right, I love the villains too, thats why I had to peg this one down a notch or two and point it out. The action is great, but the villain is barely showcased whatsoever. Which is a little disappointing when you compare it to other things, like the Bond franchise, say…

  2. Sounds like an overall entertaining movie with some shock value! I have to ask, does the plot or storyline hold up? We have had conversations before about the fact that action for the sake of action doesn’t always make it a good movie. And your comments about the villain aspect worries me. Don’t get me wrong, this probably won’t stop me from seeing this movie, but the plot is the glue that holds the action sequences together and I need to know does it hold up? I’m sure they get into some pretty sticky situations!

    • Yeah, the plot is fine. I mean, it’s not “The Godfather” or anything, but it’s ok as far as setting out the mission and connecting the action set pieces.

      Action alone isn’t usually enough. But here, it’s action + humor, and on top of it, the action is… for the most part at least… exceptional. LOL

      The villain was a no-show. I dont know what to say about it. Not that he was bad… they just… never even bothered to really play him up. One of his henchman gets more play than he does (the female assassin). Its disappointing, had to call it out.

  3. As a fan of the Actual Mission: Impossible, I vowed never to watch another of these after they destroyed the Mr. Phelps character in the first film. Some things are unforgivable.

  4. I was thinking about this flick on my way home on Friday night after we saw it. I told you it was a B+ to A- and I still believe that but I just can’t get over the fact that Tom gets his ass kicked so many times and he doesn’t show a mark on his face. Or the fact that the old man (bad guy) out runs him in that crazy storm or kicks his ass during the last fight scene. I expect the crazy technology and and off the wall stunts but it is the little stuff that I mentioned that I just can’t get over. All in all, good review and about a good solid flick. I would recemmend this one. What’s are next flick?

    • All movies have shit like that. I think its a testament to the quality of the flick when you can get past it… if you couldnt, that would probably hurt your experience, and affect your grade…

      I downgraded it some because of the over the top technology myself.

      I dont know what’s up next. I’ll keep you posted. Probably be January or so… I’m going to be powering through the Holiday movies and then we’ll regroup.

  5. Finally saw this, and I have to say… it was really good. I’m on record as hating all the MI films up until now. The MI franchise lost me in the first film when they made Mr. Phelps the bad guy. (Sorry, spoilers for a 15 year old film). You dont just crap on the entire history of the TV series like that. It was unforgivable… until now. They had me when Hunt said “Light the fuse.” lol.

    • And in all honesty, I think it had to have lost something on the translation to the small screen. Man, that Burj Khalifa scene was incredible. LOL

      But yeah, great flick. I just wish it had some kind of villain I could identify with it. It could have been an all timer. 😀

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