The IMF is shut down when it’s implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization’s name.
Rottentomatoes [93%, 97%]
The Mission Impossible series is a bit of a quirky one. The first one [61%, 53%] was okay, more of a thriller, mystery movie than anything. The second movie [57%, 63%] came along and was worse than the first [in my mind], with new director John Woo tried to take it into much more of an action theme. A new crew took on the third film [70%, 63%], including J.J. Abrams directing, and it became the most successful in the series. Now, with most of the same crew on-board, the fourth film has received far and beyond the best critical ratings, and Tom Cruise, the only person who has been involved in every movie, has brought his name back into the spotlight after a less than stellar/productive past few years.
Ethan Hunt is back. But not catching bad guys and saving the world. This time, he’s in a Russian prison. Fellow IMF operatives Benji Dunn, the computer whiz returning from MI:3, played by Simon Pegg [Sean of the Dead, Star Trek], and Jane Carter, played by Paula Patton, break him out to complete a mission to retrieve information about a nuclear threat from the Moscow Kremlin. But they are not alone. Someone else has already retrieved the information. Ethan spots this man, but a bomb in the Kremlin goes off and allows the mysterious man to escape. IMF is blamed, and the President enables Ghost Protocol, disavowing IMF. Ethan receives one final mission before IMF president is killed by Russians, and Ethan is left with just his two team members and no resources to try and stop this mystery man who is hellbent on starting a nuclear war.
The lead actor who plays the villain Kurt Hendricks is Michael Nyqvist, who is huge in Europe for playing Mikael Blomkvist in the Swedish and first rendition of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo [Played with Fire, Kicked the Hornet’s Nest] series. His screen time in Ghost Protocol is pretty limited, but I’m sure that fans of the Swedish movie series will have fun seeing Nyqvist on the other end of the heroic spectrum.
Jeremy Renner plays William Brandt, IMF’s top analyst, who turns out to be an agent himself. Although he does not lead this film, I think this was either the deciding point or a confirmation of Renner’s casting of the new lead of the Bourne series, playing another product of the system that Matt Damon‘s Jason Bourne was a part of.
All of the films in this series have some defining stunts and operations. The MI had Hunt hanging from a wire inches from the ground, MI:II had some cool desert rock climbing, MI:III had Hunt jumping from a tall building, and now MI:IV has maybe the best one of all. With a ton of really cool behind the scenes footage available on YouTube and such, MI:IV has Ethan Hunt scaling the side of the world’s tallest man-made structure, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Not only is this a marvelous building, but the entire city is a wondrous site with the best skyline in the world. There are some really cool aerial shots from the stunt, and Cruise did all of them himself. Jeremy Renner also has a pretty cool stunt reminiscent of the first MI movie.
The movie is a first for director Brad Bird, since this is live-action and his previous directorial work has been all animated: The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille. All of his previous work has been really good, leading to producer Tom Cruise hiring him for this film. But this is a different monster to deal with. His work on Ghost Protocol is actually pretty good, giving Bird an impressive resume.
The film itself does the series well with it’s similarities to past films. There is the exotic female lead, the quirky, funny technician sidekick, and a whole slew of technologically advanced gadgets that spies have at their disposal. The story is full of twists and mysteries, and a plot that the viewer can’t really fully understand until it is all wrapped up in the end. Having said that, this one has all of it’s many aspects together, more so than the first three have. They were pretty sloppy and all over the place, but this film is tight and well rounded. The action sequences in this film are also way cooler and well done. The film is a bit lengthy with a run-time of 133 minutes, but the levity supplied by Simon Pegg and others helps to keep the viewer entertained. The score is also really good, with a classic Bond, old-school spy thriller feel to it. Really well done. I thought the third film was pretty good, the best of the series, but I can easily say that it has been eclipsed by Ghost Protocol.
They always play at more movies at the end of MI films, and they did the same in this movie. Usually, I groan, roll my eyes, and leave the theater hoping this is not the case. Well, that is not the case this time. I really liked what they did with this film, and it is clear that Cruise is able and willing to fill this action thriller role, so I don’t think I’d mind seeing another film, pending that the cast and crew are actually the same.
3.5/4 – Ghost Protocol is the fourth installment of the big-screen adaptation of the old time television show Mission Impossible. But with performances you wouldn’t expect out of the now older Tom Cruise and new to live-action director Brad Bird, this movie gives you a something you wouldn’t expect: a damn fine film, and the best MI movie yet.