Quote of the Day

"We're only here briefly, and while I'm here I want to allow myself joy. So fuck it."
- Amy, Her.

Monday, 2 January 2012

RE:View: Mission:Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Minor Spoilers Forth-Coming

Doing a fourth instalment of a well known franchise is always a risky move in Hollywood, especially when that 4th film is being directed by someone who's previous works have all been purely animated (Brad Bird). Add to that the fact that the flagship star of it all, Tom Cruise, is now getting on a bit (coming on to 50 this year), and you've got yourself a shaky foundation to start from. But luckily, M:I - Ghost Protocol doesn't just excite with its baffling gadgetry and all-out epic stunts, but also entertains and delivers something a little more than just adrenaline action.

   Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his highly skilled spy team, the IMF, are shut down after being accused of bombing the Kremlin during a simple intel mission. Now underground, the group (mostly fresh faces) find themselves traversing the globe in search of the conspiracy that led to their current rogue status, and discover that the entire world is at stake; with only them to stop it, and everyone on their backs.

    Within the first 10 minutes the tone is set and the pace identified, as Simon Pegg's Benji and Paula Patton's Carter hatch a daring escape plan to bust Ethan out of a high security Russian Prison. It doesn't take long for us to establish Bird's style with a  humour fuelled action sequence played out delightfully between the banter of Cruise and Pegg, with the two agents squabbling aimlessly while prisoners riot to the sound of Dean Martin's "Ain't That a Kick In The Head". From this early scene alone, it's obvious that Bird has defied the odds.

Holy Shiiiiiii...
 From there on, it carries this sense of entertainment into some truly spectacular set pieces; the highly publicised and highly high acrobats of Cruise around Dubai's notorious Burj Khalifa, (which includes some terrifying "edge of the seat" moments), an intense simultaneous dual-con scene involving deadly assassins and silicon masks, and a desert storm chase that's sure to get the popcorn flowing. With all this fast paced action, you'd think the plot would fail, but thanks to some neatly placed and neatly written dialogue the story hangs on just enough for it to be clear, but not patronising.

    Of course, Cruise keeps Ethan the same as ever, the all-american hero type, albeit slightly bitter since the whole "Your team is shut down" thing and an apparent "Your wife has left you" issue. Naturally, the guy's going to be a little pissed. Remarkably though, he's still able to keep up with the hugely demanding physical stunts without the aid of "Cutting Corners" CGI and gels well with the rest of the team. Pegg, as always, nails the comic relief of gadget geek Benji, with just the right expressions, tone and timing to fit into the story without becoming a plot device, while Jeremy Renner's secretive Agent Brandt compliments this during the third act, simultaneously pulling off the kick-ass moments too. But no team would be complete without the female companion, and Paula Patton manages to keep up with the boys, despite the predictability and misfired themes of her role.

I can see where this is going...
   As the third act take shape, the pace remains the same, but the writing weakens slightly. There's a couple of predictable turns (Of course, the woman has to seduce the enemy... *Groan*), and mismatched situations where the gadgetry steps out of realism and borders on "Spy Kids" territory, which seem cheap compared to the gripping nature of the previous scenes. The ending, while cheesy as it gets, still has a certain roundness to it, although it doesn't try to bend the genre with any unexpected final thrills, but I guess that's not what you're paying for.

  For a film that had such low expectations (from me at least), these discrepancies aren't too major when you consider how well the rest of the pay-off was. For a big-budget action movie, Ghost Protocol pulls enough of the right punches to secure it a success among a graveyard of failures within the same genre. While it may not nail everything, at the very least it's got some of the best action and surprisingly good laughs that I've seen in a long time, without sacrificing too much of the narrative.

3.75/5 Stars


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