How entertaining? ★★★★★
Thought provoking? ★☆☆☆☆
14 December 2011
This article is a review of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL.
“The Russians are classifying this as an undeclared act of war… The blame points to you and your team… The President has initiated ‘Ghost Protocol’. The entire IMF has been disavowed,” Government Secretary (Tom Wilkinson).
Director Brad Bird knows how to quicken the pulse with adrenaline-driven set pieces. He delivered one of the greatest action films of all time. A cartoon. THE INCREDIBLES. He also gave us THE IRON GIANT and RATATOUILLE. Bird is one member of Pixar’s ‘Brain Trust’. His back catalogue is enough to justify that position. My anticipation was through the roof for his first foray into live action features. The MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE franchise has interestingly chosen a different helmer for each segment. Brian De Palma inaugurated the series with the best, creating a thriller which required concentration; John Woo’s sequel was messy but the combat and chases were second-to-none (that cartwheel on the beach as Ethan Hunt kicks Sean Ambrose in the face, hard, is even now still in my brain); and J.J. Abrams made my favourite with number three, understanding what makes the spy genre tick and the nature of teamwork. With GHOST PROTOCOL Abrams has stayed on as producer and brought on two of his ALIAS writers. Between the four of them, they, and the rest of their crew, have created probably the most breathless and pacey thriller of the year. Inventive and well choreographed, each scene links seamlessly to the next; Bird makes the transition from animation appear effortless.
However, the only let down is the bad guy, who boringly wants to trigger off a nuclear war between America and Russia – how many times is setting off a conflict going to be a plot device? Played by Michael Nyqvist, he is barely fleshed out. Contrast the malevolence portrayed by a scene-stealing Philip Seymour Hoffman in the last instalment. The IMF have been cleverly implicated in this conspiracy and Ethan Hunt and his other agents are now viewed as traitors, whose mission is not only to clear their names but to avert global catastrophe. Hunt this time around is more taciturn. It is implied that his wife and him have separated. Hunt here is more akin to other familiar spies, instead of previously actually caring about those around him; though the group endeavours are thankfully still maintained – Tom Cruise does his cool shizzle of course, but it doesn’t feel like an ego trip. A new benchmark in excitement that it will be intriguing to see if James Bond’s SKYFALL next year can overtake.