After seeing this film one of my friends made the innocuous comment “That was pretty good but almost all of it was scientifically impossible” to which I replied “What were you expecting? Its called Mission: Impossible. Not Mission: Scientifically Accurate”. In a nutshell that is the main draw of the Mission: Impossible franchise, they’re big, crazy and kind of stupid, but you get the feeling that the people making the film know that and are really just going out of they’re way to make an enjoyable action film. If nothing else Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is most definitely that.
This installment starts with IMF Agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) locked up in a Russian prison until he’s broken out by fellow IMF agents Jane (Paula Patton) and Benji (Simon Pegg) to track down a KGB agent turned terrorist codenamed Cobalt. After that the film gets… kind of convoluted. I honestly could not give you a a real synopsis because I don’t know what happened within this movie. Dont get me wrong, there is most definitely a plot. A plot with dialogue, characters and exposition, but the only real thing I can say about it is that Jeremy Renner shows up, there’s a threat of nuclear annihilation, and a lot of crazy stuff happens. You know what though? That’s okay because it’s just adrenaline filled fun!
I should note up front that a big reason the film is as fun as it is because of director Brad Bird. Bird is a noted director of such animation features such as The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille. While all are fantastic films, sometimes the transition from animated to live action can be hit or miss. However, Bird puts his animation background to good use in this by keeping things moving at all times. Animation requires that you know what your going to illustrate way ahead of time, once a scene is animated vary rarely do they change it. Bird brings that sensibility here, as Ghost Protocol has few wasted shots and is constructed in such a way to keep its momentum constantly exploding forward. He also incorporates the animators philosophy of “go anywhere, do anything” as Ghost Protocol uses the ability of the action spy genre to explore exotic locales and uses them as a springboard for some truly impressive action sequences [anything involving The Burj Khalifa Tower]
The inclusion of Brad Bird lends itself to a theory on the Mission: Impossible franchise that I’ve had for awhile, which is more than any other contemporary film series the directors are as much the stars of the films as Tom Cruise is. Lets look at the list: The original was directed by Brian DePalma, the sequel (for better or worse) by John Woo, and the third by JJ Abrams. All of these directors have some of the most distinctive visual and storytelling styles in contemporary cinema. Simply by being involved they take what should be an uninteresting action franchise and turn them into something that people are at least interested in if not outright excited for.
Now that I’m done praising the director maybe I should talk about the actors, eh? Everyone involved here does their jobs very competently. Tom Cruise still has a youthful energy borderline unheard of for a man his age, Paula Patton plays sultry and tough, and Simon Pegg is the teams comedic relief. Every character embody a broad archetype we have seen before and never really move beyond that. Although if we’re being honest, it’s probably a good thing for a movie of this nature. Jeremy Renner’s role was a bit less defined, he begins off acting like a bookish analyst until a point where we’re led to believe this is just a disguise and he’s actually capable of breaking a mans arm eight different ways. The switch itself was fine but for some reason Renner’s character just felt off, almost like they couldn’t find a balance so the characterization kept swinging back from nervous analyst to brooding badass. Its almost like they didnt neccesarily know what they wanted him to do which is surprising considering what a big deal the studio has made that the Mission: Impossible franchise will go to Renner if Cruise decides to stop starring in the series (and the end of Ghost Protocol confirms that, at least somewhat). I’m a big fan of Renner’s work elsewhere, but the film juggles characters throughout and unfortunately he just happens to be the one that keeps getting dropped.
Ghost Protocol is without a doubt the strongest entry into the Mission: Impossible franchise but that doesn’t save it from having the same storytelling problems the other films had. It makes up for its short comings with crazy action and basically having everything you could want from a big action movie. It probably wont change your life after you see it, but it sure is a lot of fun and honestly that’s all you can ask for from a action movie. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!
- Strong Live Action Debut for Brad Bird
- Crazy Action
- Solid Acting and Character Work
- Has a “Wait? What?” Type of Plot
- Feels like they were not sure what to do with Jeremy Renners Character.