Like a fine wine, Tom Cruise is beginning to look like he’s only getting better with age. That may be hard to believe, considering the huge success he had in the ‘80s and ‘90s. However, it’s the truth, as his latest film (and fourth in the series) Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol became his top grossing film worldwide of all time. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it was also the best action film of last year, with huge international appeal.
International appeal is one thing Cruise has always had though, even when personal troubles caused his popularity to falter a few years back. It didn’t seem to bother those outside North America, who still attended his movies in droves. And when you have the charisma and talent that Cruise has, it’s only a matter of time before all is forgotten (or at least, forgiven) and you’re back on top of the world. Or in the case of Ghost Protocol, on top of the Burj Khalifa tower – the tallest building in the world.
Cruise once again stars as Ethan Hunt, though this time, the tables have turned. Hunt finds himself in prison at the start of the film, and after an IMF team breaks him out, things quickly take a turn for the worse. During a standard mission (and by standard, I of course mean incredibly complicated, almost impossible and requiring many top of the line secret agent gadgets in order to complete) at the Kremlin in Russia, the building is bombed, and the IMF are implicated in the attack. Obviously set-up, it’s now up to Hunt and his small crew of agents (who have all been disavowed by the United States and deemed international terrorists) to clear their names, and stop the real bad guys from accomplishing their goals.
It sounds like your standard Mission: Impossible plot, and it kind of is, which is the brilliance of it. Writers Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec have taken the series back to its roots, and created an intricate, yet easy to follow, story that mixes all the nail-biting, one-wrong-move-and-the-mission-fails scenarios that one could hope for, along with a fresh angle of their being nobody else for this group to fall back on.
Director Brad Bird’s live action directorial debut could not have been a bigger test for his skills behind the camera, and he passed with flying colours. The sheer intensity and suspense he gets from all the various camera angles he explores throughout are magnificent, and he never lets the tension die, even through elongated action sequences. Though his ability to capture emotion, and drama also shine through in the more character driven aspects of the film.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have an actor like Cruise on board for your debut either, as it’s well known that Cruise is a man who likes to get his hands dirty as far as stunts are concerned in order to get the best shots possible. And boy, does he ever get up close and personal with danger this time out. As mentioned above, Cruise scaled the side of the tallest building in the world, which is just one of the many physically demanding stunts he performed in order to get the close-up shots that help keep audiences immersed in the action scenes from start to finish.
And like his recent outing in Knight & Day, Cruise looks to just be enjoying himself this time out, throwing out hilarious one-liners and just having fun being a part of the action. This energy transfers over to the audience, who in turn find themselves just enjoying the rollercoaster ride that the film takes them on.
The supporting cast is made up of a superb group of people, who really give off the vibe that this is a crew that shares a unique bond and will do what it takes to get the job done. First, there’s Jeremy Renner, who plays William Brandt, a mysterious suit with more skills than he lets on. Rumour has it that Renner was being primed to take over the leading role in this series, but with the success of Ghost Protocol, it looks like the reigns won’t be passed just yet. Though Renner is quite cool in the film, which makes his upcoming The Bourne Legacy look that much better.
There’s also great work done by Paula Patton, who plays Jane Carter, the female agent on the team. Carter has a solid side-story of her own that flows perfectly with the film’s premise and really helps give her character some depth. Josh Holloway (Sawyer, of LOST fame) also has a minor role in the film, which is unfortunate; as he’s so badass you just want him to stick around that much longer. And finally, there’s the comedic relief of Simon Pegg, who is spot on as Benji Dunn, the member of the team who helps in a more technological way over anything physical. All members of the team have great chemistry, and it really helps propel the story forward.
Lastly, there’s the film’s villain, Kurt Hendricks, played by Michael Nyqvist who makes his North American film debut after the great success of Sweden’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. Nyqvist has a great look as a villain, and his reasoning and demeanor all work well for the film. Unfortunately, he’s more of a backburner character than the villains of the past films have been, which does hinder his threatening stature some; however, the fast-paced nature of the film really helps keep these thoughts at bay throughout.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol keeps the M:I tradition alive by making sure each film has a different feel than the last. Ghost Protocol is a hugely entertaining action film, and arguably the best in the series. And when it comes to franchises, it’s usually a case of diminishing returns in quality as each new entry is released, but that’s not the case with Mission: Impossible. Then again, it shouldn’t be too surprising, as doing the impossible is what they’re all about.
The audio and video transfers of the film to DVD are incredibly well done. The Dolby Digital sound comes through superbly on all levels, really placing you into the action. The picture is sharp, and as solid as you’d hope to see on a DVD release.
The special features for this film are lacking on the DVD release, as the Blu-ray copies (especially those with the bonus disc of features) are where the abundance of special features are to be found. Of course, if DVD is your only option, the film is still incredibly worthwhile to own, even with the small amount of bonus content.
Impossible Missions: The Sandstorm & Props – Each of these featurettes are quite short, running at under five minutes a piece, however, the sandstorm featurette does give you a quick look at just how much goes into a single action scene.
Deleted Scenes – There are quite a few deleted scenes found here, though as per usual, they found themselves on the cutting room floor for a reason.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a film that action junkies have already very likely seen, but should see again. It’s one of those films you can watch any time and just get sucked into its world, which is rarely the case for the fourth film in a franchise. For those who may not be fans of the series, or have given up on Cruise for other reasons, do yourself a favour and accept this mission. Highly recommended.
Paramount Pictures presents Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Directed by: Brad Bird. Written by: Josh Appelbaum & Andre Nemec. Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Josh Holloway. Running time: 132 minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released on DVD: April 17, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.