Friday, December 16, 2011

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol Review

Brad Bird’s “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” reminds us how great action can look. One particular scene takes us to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. There sits the Burj Khalifa, a skyscraper and currently the tallest in the world. Perfect place for an action scene. Our hero Ethan Hunt (who has been the hero for all three previous films) has to do the grueling task of climbing it (as the mission requires) armed, with only a pair of gloves that can stick on to the windows. Thankfully he doesn’t have to climb to the tippy top but he still has to go up a few stories. Part way up one of his gloves gives out and he has to climb the rest of the way with only one glove. He makes it to his destination but about two minutes later we see him running down and across the wall of mighty skyscraper with only a harness. If that’s not a great action scene, then I don’t know what is.

“Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” stars Tom Cruise as everyone’s favorite butt kicking, gadget using, goofy running spy Ethan Hunt and he’s back for another mission.  This time with a brand new team made up of three default action movie heroes. You have “Shaun of the Dead’s” Simon Pegg as the expert technology guy who is basically comic relief. There’s Paula Patton as Jane, the tough and sexy token female member of the team and finally Jeremy Renner as Brandt, a seemingly average analyst who is actually hiding something about his identity.

Their mission? It has to do with Russians and nuclear launch codes and cover-ups and such but really, the big question is: What kind of awesome gadgets do they get to use? Glad you asked. There are special eye contacts that can identify anyone on the street, cars with touch screen maps, a big gigantic cloak that can blend in to its surroundings and many, many other ingenious contraptions that seem all too convenient. But, what are you going to do. It’s “Mission Impossible” after all.

Anyway, back to the action sequences. As spectacular as the Dubai skyscraper scene is there are a number of others that are just as good and some a little better. Two such scenes are when Ethan dukes it out with a bad guy at a car-making factory in India, and the chase scene that takes place through a vicious sand storm a few minutes after the skyscraper scene. Director Brad Bird (who is mostly known for making Pixar films like “The Incredibles”) shows that he has incredible skill in making live action movies. He puts us right there as an agent (played by “Lost’s” Josh Holloway) plunges off the roof of a building during the beginning’s set piece. And he does it without the use of 3D. I imagine he’ll be a go-to guy for action films in the future.

Look, maybe the reason why I’m so awestruck with this movie is because I saw it on the six-story IMAX screen. As good as the action is, it’s still action in the end. I’m not sure how it will do on another viewing, on a smaller screen. All of the actors do fine for what kind of movie they’re in. At forty-nine Cruise is still the charmer he was years ago. Also, I appreciated that the characters didn’t take the material too seriously. They have fun with it and acknowledge that the whole concept can be a little corny.
The whole movie is pure unbelievable popcorn entertainment and there’s nothing wrong with that. You try scaling the tallest building in the world, because after seeing Ethan do it, I sure as hell don’t. 

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