Say what you will about Tom Cruise, but he is well suited to action films. He is great in "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" because the movie requires him to look bewildered and/or insane 90% of the time. He hasn't jumped on a couch in years, but his crazy eyes still fit the bill.
The fourth film in the "Mission: Impossible" franchise, "Ghost Protocol" picks up a few years after the end of "Mission: Impossible 3." Impossible Missions Force (IMF) agent Trevor Dunaway (Josh Holloway) is killed during a routine mission to intercept documents before they reach someone code-named "Cobalt." Agents Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) help Ethan Hunt (Cruise) escape from a Moscow prison, where he's been holed up for a while. The team is instructed to break into the Kremlin archives to find files that reveal Cobalt's identity, but the mission goes awry when a bomb detonates within the iconic building.
Everyone believes that the IMF is behind the attack, so the U.S. government shuts it down and disavows the agents. IMF analyst William Brandt (Jeremy Renner, "Hurt Locker"), who was a former field operative, also joins the group. Without any backup or support, Hunt and his team must work to clear the IMF's name, traveling to such exotic locations as Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Mumbai, India to do so. (It's hard out there for an IMF agent.)
The team quickly discerns the real identity of Cobalt, who used the Kremlin bombing to obtain a nuclear device. The documents that were intercepted in the beginning of the film contain nuclear launch codes, which Cobalt needs to fulfill his evil plan of firing a nuke at the U.S.
Although the plot sounds like it was yanked straight out of the Cold War, the technology plants this film squarely in a modern-day setting. The team has a neat optimal illusion setup that is controlled by an iPad, and everyone's tossing around iPhones. The BMW i8 concept car steals a few hearts in its film debut.
This is Brad Bird's first live-action directorial effort, but the action sequences look like they were done by an old pro. Bird has previously worked on Pixar films such as "Ratatouille" and "The Incredibles." They've handed him a big franchise with "Ghost Protocol," and he definitely runs with it.
About 30 minutes of film footage are shot in IMAX. It's well worth the extra money to watch "Ghost Protocol" in its full IMAX glory. In the movie trailers, Hunt climbs on the outside of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. The other IMAX shots are gorgeous, but this is the sequence that justifies the IMAX surcharge. My knees get weak each time I think of that scene.
The fight sequence in the multilevel parking garage changes up the rhythm and really drives home (no pun intended) the sense that this is a knock-down, drag-out fight with dire consequences if the team doesn't succeed.
Cruise may be the only marquee actor in the cast, but they all hold their own and show their acting chops. This is the epitome of a popcorn flick, but the actors do a good job with the material that they're given. It's difficult to believe, but Cruise is pushing 50. His arms still look great, but he may want to consider passing on the shirtless scenes in the near future. Patton is stunning in her biggest movie to date, and it's difficult to believe that she's managed to stay unnoticed in Hollywood for this long. Pegg delivers one-liners and facial expressions with the best of them, breaking up the intensity with some much-needed comic relief. Renner brings a tortured dignity to the role of Brandt. The character was created to prepare for Cruise eventually stepping away from the franchise. It'll be interesting to see the direction that the "M:I" series will take with Renner at the helm.
Brij Nath (Anil Kapoor, "Slumdog Millionaire") is a rich Indian businessman. He portrays a lecher very well but is sometimes difficult to understand, as his words tend to run together. Holloway's small role is pivotal in setting the film's pace. From the first sequence, the action gets your adrenaline pumping and has you perched on the edge of your seat. The pace doesn't falter until the credits roll.
It's a pity that "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" wasn't released this past summer, which should've been an action junkie's playground but ended up being a big disappointment (aside from "Captain America: The First Avenger"). Take a break from the joy of family togetherness during the holidays and see this movie. Get a bucket of popcorn, disengage your brain and enjoy the high-octane ride.
"Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 2 hours and 12 minutes. It is showing in 2-D and 2-D IMAX.
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