In 2011, Hollywood unleashed a record number of sequels, as cries for a more creative and original cinema was drowned out by billions of dollars in box office revenue. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is the fourth entry in the series, and this time is helmed by director Brad Bird. In a year where most sequels were reviled by critics, performed poorly and were generally looked at as major disappointments, Mission Impossible breaks the trend. Ghost Protocol is a dazzling 133 minute adrenaline rush, providing a remarkable sense of intensity from the films initial seconds and refuses to let go.
The film stars IMF (Impossible Missions Force) agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) once again, beginning the film locked up in a Russian prison. In one of the film’s opening sequences, he is ingeniously broken out of prison by fellow IMF field agents Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg). Moments after breaking out, Ethan receives his next mission; along with his fellow agents, he is to infiltrate the Kremlin archives in Moscow.
After a disastrous result, Ghost Protocol is activated, disavowing the IMF. Hunt and his team escape from Moscow, and meet IMF chief analyst William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), whose skills extend far beyond that of statistical analysis. From here, Ethan’s team, now including Brandt, engage on a secret mission to discover the answers to what they were looking for in the Kremlin, as well as clearing the name of the Impossible Missions Force.
The task launches the team on a globetrotting mission, featuring a spectacular array of set-pieces, including the Kremlin, a futuristic car garage and an extravagant palace.
None, however, are more expertly used than the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, currently the world’s tallest manmade structure, standing at a remarkable 2,723 feet. What happens here I will not spoil, but it is certainly the most thrilling sequence of the year. This is in debt largely to director Brad Bird. Here, Bird makes his live-action debut, after directing animated classics ‘The Iron Giant’, ‘The Incredibles’ and ‘Ratatouille’.
Bird’s excellent understanding of visual space and his seemingly boundless imagination transition seamlessly into Mission Impossible, filling the movie with death-defying moments, and a sheer level of ridiculousness that somehow feels disarmingly believable. A man with Brad Bird’s imagination is unparalleled, and we very well may be looking at the emergence of one of Hollywood’s finest directors.
One of the films greatest assets is its remarkable cast. Tom Cruise is electric as Ethan Hunt, and his performance a strong reminder that Cruise is still a terrific action hero. Cruise also does his own stunts in the movie, a feat which is especially impressive when you see just what his character accomplishes in the film. Simon Pegg exudes charisma and great comic timing, Jeremy Renner is excellent as always and Paula Patton finds a great balance of charm and toughness in what could prove to be a breakout role.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol succeeds by never taking itself too seriously. Bird has set out to create an exciting, highly imaginative thrill ride, drawing audiences to dizzying heights filled with expertly choreographed action sequences, creating a unique experience for the audience. And what an experience it is.
Note: The IMAX version of the film is without question worth the additional cost. It features a great use of the format and makes key sequences all the more impressive.