Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

By s. Thursday, April 5, 2012 , , , , , , ,
79/100 (2011, 133 min)
Plot: 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.
Director: Brad Bird
Writers: Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec
Stars: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg

Mission accomplished

I'm not a fan of "Mission Impossible" movies. Not that they are not entertaining and the visual effects aren't stunning, but for some reason they aren't particularly memorable. With James Bond series I remember a lot from the movies - icy Rosamund Pike in "Die Another Day", funny geek from "Goldeneye", The scene where Sophie Marceau tortures Pierce Brosman in "The World is not Enough" and Sean Connery, lots of him, because he is well, Sean Connery. With "Mission Impossible" series apart from the famous scene from the first movie where Tom Cruise hangs from the ceiling and the fact how shocked I was Philip Seymour Hoffman appeared in 3rd one, I don't remember that much. But "Ghost Protocol" is a well made movie with fun characters and for me, the best one in the series.

The film opens with impressive sequence where a man (Josh Holloway) runs out with a bag on his shoulder, escaping two guys chasing him. Then a delicate looking woman (Lea Seydoux) appears in front of him, on the empty street and mercilessly shoots him. As he falls on his knees, the woman embraces him and takes the bag. After that she walks away and leaves him there to die.
Then the things only get more interesting - we find out Ethan Hunt is a prisoner in Russia and agent Jane Carter and goofy computer expert Benji help him escape. The escape sequence is brilliant because not only is it ingenious mix of the fight sequences and clever uses of technology, but also it's entertaining and doesn't take itself too seriously - as Tom Cruise is running around punching guys twice as big as he is, Frank Sinatra's "Ain't that a kick in the head" plays in the background.

That's the beauty of the movie - it knows it's not supposed to be taken seriously. I remember thinking previous instalments didn't have enough of Simon Pegg - he is such a funny guy and provides a much needed comic relief to the movies dealing with the threat of war, apocalypse, explosions. He finally gets his chance to shine here, as unlike in the previous three movies there are really four key players not just Ethan Hunt. Since Hunt has never been a complex character that's a very good move.
Benji is always there to react as I imagine most of us would facing dangerous people, guns, insane situations and awful situations. Hunt is of course doing the impossible things - climbing world's tallest buildings, chasing guys in the sand storm, speaking in any language that is needed at the time. There is also Jane, who as it turns out was very close with the man we saw die in the prologue, who turned out to be another agent. And we have mysterious Brandt, an analyst who appears to be something else entirely. From what I read Brandt is being groomed as the new protagonist, in case Tom Cruise ever leaves the franchise.

The cast is very impressive - Tom Cruise continues to be good as Ethan Hunt but as I watched Josh Holloway in his brief appearance as agent Hanaway I couldn't help but think how much better would the movie be if he was playing the main hero. Cruise is doing very nicely as an action star but often times he just has this insanely annoying, constipated look on his face, whereas Holloway in few minutes he is on screen is filled with energy, wit and charisma.
As Brandt we have very talented Jeremy Renner. I am so glad that neither Chris Pine nor Tom Hardy got hired for this part. Renner is one of the most memorable actors working nowadays, perhaps almost at the level of Sam Rockwell. He manages to be mysterious, clumsy, like able and fierce at the same time. Paula Patton as Jane didn't really make an impression on me, though she wasn't awful as many supporting ladies in action movies are. I also give the movie points for not making her into love interest for Ethan Hunt.

Then we have antagonists. The primary one is played by Michael Nyqvist who made absolutely no impression on me when he played the protagonist in Swedish "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and here not only that, he was the synonym for the bland villain character, sunken with stereotypes and just destined to lose in the end. I thought to myself how much better the movie would be if the main villain was Lea Seydoux's character, assassin for hire, Sabine Moreau. She is just captivating, menacing, icy and fascinating here. Seydoux frequently steals focus - she did so in "Robin Hood" and "Midnight in Paris". The best part is that you don't really know how she does it, but for whatever reason you can't take your eyes off her.
Had Sabine was the main antagonist, things wouldn't be easy to anticipate, but with weak, stereotypical villain we know almost with certainty that he will be defeated in the end. Another flaw of the film is the weak last act of the film - it's the flaw in every single action movies these days. The tension is wonderful through the first 90 minutes of the film, I haven't felt adrenaline boost like that since I've seen "The Bourne Ultimatum". Unfortunately the last 30 minutes are predictable, filled with car chases, fighting and there is no place for pauses where we would be given a bit of dialogue, or a situation through witch the plot would thicken. Even if people get hurt, you don't really think they may die.

And then, there is the ending. I don't usually use spoilers in my reviews but I have now, as I'm astonished SPOILERS The whole big mystery with Brandt is that he was sent to protect Ethan and his wife Julia and he fails - Julia's body is found in pieces. Now, when we found this out I thought "Finally, some depth, some horror!". But no! In the ending we find out that it was all fake - Ethan and Julia staged the whole thing and she is alive. Wait it gets worse - in the ending scene Ethan is looking at at woman passing by in the distance. It's Julia (Michelle Monagham in a silent cameo) who then notices him and waves. They smile and it's all very lovely. But i don't understand. What the hell? They are married yet all they have is gazing, waving and smiling? And is it really smart of Hunt to stand there stupefied as he stared at her? If somebody would want them dead he could probably do so with a single bullet, going through both of them. END OF SPOILERS
The action sequences are mesmerizing - Tom Cruise performed the sequence where Ethan Hunt scales the outside of the Burj Khalifa tower himself without the use of a stunt double. The Burj Khalifa tower is the tallest building in the world.It is just astonishing - I got a little dizzy just by looking at the scene and the fact it takes place in the movie's most exciteing sequence when the fantastic four has to get the codes for nuclear weapons back, it was almost impossible to bear the tension.

That's not the only cool scene in the film,there are many of those including an explosion I had no idea will happen as I have not read the plot summaries for the movie prior to watching it. There is also a lot of great gadgets, which are not only brilliant but also very memorable, especially the screen because of which Benji and Hunt are able to access archive room in Kremlin. I have no idea whether most of these gadgets is just a science fiction or whether or not they actually exist. The point is, when you watch the movie you don't question the reality of it, you are just having fun.
"Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol" is the most entertaining action film I've seen in a very long time and with all its flaws and cliches it remains captivating and fun. The plot moves with appropriate pace, sustaining tension through most part and never letting us get confused - we know as much as the main four agents know. With recent Jamed Bond movie "Quantum of Solace"  it was really difficult to understand the plot and make sense of the chaos, so here it was refreshing to just sit back and get what you would expect from an action movie - pure entertainment.



  2. Ha I just watched this last night!

    I liked it a lot more than I thought I would if I am honest. I usually avoid Mr Cruise. But the action made up for it.

    Plus Dubai looked sooo good on my 92" screen

    Great review

  3. 100% agree Definitely the 'most entertaining action film I've seen in a very long time' too! Nearly didn't bother with it after the first three were so totally forgettable. And also how come Holloway doesn't get cast in more? He was awesome in Lost!

    1. I don't get it either he is very charismatic and insanely good looking. I hope he gets more good roles after this movie, he was very memorable.

  4. The Mission Impossible franchise is one I've yet to see *cue horrified looks* I really don't know how it happens that I haven't seen so many films that nearly everyone else in the world *has*!!!
    I might marathon the whole series one week when I have time. Yeah, that sounds like a plan...
    I think Cruise has a patent on the 'insanely annoying, constipated look' on his face, hahaha - made me laugh. Great write up again, Sati :D

    1. Thank you! I don't know if you will enjoy the first three instalments, but this one is definetly worth watching and I think you can see it even without knowing what was going on in the first three movies.

  5. I agree it is very entertaining, and for a popcorn movie, it's one of the best I have seen in a long time! Also, Simon Pegg is hilarious and adorable!

    1. I loved his oneliners "Ooh, that's high!", "What did I miss?" - he is really funny :)

  6. Sati - I really missed the boat on this one. Big time. I was the guy swearing to my other two companions that this movie was going to kick ass and we all ended up hating it.

    The gadgets, the cast, and some of the set-pieces were all incredible at times, but for some reason it all fell flat. Maybe I'll revisit it...but I'm not so sure.

    I enjoyed your review, though. It made me feel worse. If that makes sense.

    1. I get it, it's very disappointing when you wait for the movie and you end up not liking it, I have that sensation at least once a year, recently with "Public Enemies' and "Inception".
      I'm glad you enjoyed the review!

  7. I agree, you can't take your eyes off Lea Seydoux, I could imagine her as a Bond girl, she has that beauty and flirtatious quality. On second thoughts, maybe bad idea, the danger of that is the "Bond girl curse", where their careers go wrong afterwards.

    The comic relief you refer to really worked wonders, hope to see more of that in MI5 ( :

    1. I really hope neither of my favorites does Bond movies, it just doesn't seem like anything good comes out of it. Even Eva Green who was magnetic in Casino Royale had a lot of professional bad luck in the years following CR.

  8. I loved this movie, I had a blast with it. So much fun and some great set pieces. Tom Cruise is still a big star and this film shows why!

    Great write up.

    1. Thanks! Yeah, he may be weird in his personal life but he still manages to do some pretty damn good movies.