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Sunday, January 1, 2012



"Next time, I get to seduce the rich guy."
-- Brandt

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is a 2011 action film directed by Brad Bird that serves as the fourth installment, and the first since 2006, in the Mission: Impossible film franchise. We open on Agent Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) breaking Agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) out of a Serbian prison. With intel he received during his stay, the trio sets out to learn the identity of a so-called 'Cobalt' (Michael Nyqvist) who supposedly wants to start a nuclear war. When Cobalt alerts the Russian guards of their presence, however, the team barely escapes as Cobalt blows up the Kremlin, sending the Russian government into a frenzy as they take the attack as an undeclared act of war from the United States. After their escape, Hunt learns that the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) has been dissolved in response to the Kremlin attack and that any retaliation against Cobalt will have to be done with the help of the United States government. Aided by an analyst named Brandt (Jeremy Renner), Hunt and his team try to locate Cobalt and stop his plan to start a nuclear war.

Those of you who have been reading me for a while will know that I drafted a trailer breakdown for this film back in June 2011. At the time, I was moderately excited to see another addition to this franchise, but I wondered about the reasoning behind bringing it back to the big screen. After a five year absence, Mission: Impossible III seems like a distant - and entirely forgettable - memory, so despite the fact that all three previous films have fared well monetarily, I didn't really see the reason for creating another installment.

That being said, I have to say I was thoroughly surprised when the film opened to spectacular reviews. It currently holds a 93% approval rating on, which offers the following critical consensus:
Stylish, fast-paced, and loaded with gripping set pieces, the fourth Mission: Impossible is big-budget popcorn entertainment that really works.
In that regard, I suppose Ghost Protocol is a success. I found myself thoroughly entertained by the visual effects and the non-stop action, but is that all it takes to make a good movie?

Generally, I'd say the answer is no. It takes a number of factors to create a great movie, but in my own personal opinion, the two biggest factors are the screenplay and the level of acting within any given film. Let's start with Ghost Protocol's screenplay, shall we? While it's not necessarily offering anything all that brilliant, we do get a relatively entertaining story that adds a few twists and turns to keep the audience guessing. Although we all can readily assume how the story will probably end, the journey to reach our final destination is bumpy and loaded with excitement, which is exactly what the doctor ordered for a film like this. Sure, it's not a brilliant storyline, and it's not bringing anything new to the table, but there's something steady and familiar about this one that makes it all the more endearing. Had the screenwriters attempted to break the mold, they may not have been as successful. Instead, they merely bent the mold here and there to create something a little bit different, and I thought it worked splendidly.

The acting in the film also isn't all that spectacular, but it works within the constructs of an action film in the 21st century. Cruise brings the same character we've seen three times before, and although he's still the film's centerpiece, I feel like he does drop back a little bit and lets his supporting cast shine from time to time. That was always one of my issues with the previous Mission: Impossible films: they always seemed like Cruise-centric flicks that spiraled into drivel rather quickly. This time, however, there's a better combination of personalities, and each is given their chance to strut their stuff. Patton is very good as our main female lead, and although her character isn't given much depth, she does well with what she has. Pegg serves up enough comic relief to keep the film moving along. Renner is the revelation in the film, bringing his high-caliber acting skills to this franchise and offering a great foil to Cruise's Hunt. We also get a good performance from Nyqvist, who I recognized from the Swedish Millennium trilogy, which starts with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Also be on the lookout for a couple of cameos and familiar faces along the way.

One of the questions I posed in my trailer breakdown for Ghost Protocol was whether or not Brad Bird would be able to direct a successful live-action film. Before this, he had only directed animated films, so to make his live-action debut with such a storied franchise couldn't have been easy. Suffice it to say, I do think he's created the best Mission: Impossible film to date - although that's not saying a whole lot considering the caliber of the three previous films - so for that, he should be applauded. At the end of the day, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is a fun film that's sure to keep you entertained. Just don't try to over-think it.

Movie Review Summary
Grade: B+
1.5 Thumbs Up

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