Sending out 2011 with a bang, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is an absolutely fantastic action movie and probably the best entry in the Mission Impossible series.
Ghost Protocol finds IMF’s best agent, Ethan Hunt, locked away in a Budapest prison, who’s broken out by Simon Pegg’s Benji Dunn and Paula Patton’s Jane Carter and the trio is tasked with stealing a file from the Kremlin concerning a possible terrorist codenamed Cobalt. If you’ve seen the trailers, you know the mission goes horribly wrong and the IMF team is left on their own to track down Cobalt and his associates and stop them from starting a nuclear war. Along with the trio is Jeremy Renner as IMF agent William Brandt. Unlike say MI1 or 2, Ghost Protocol actually picks up story threads from MI3, especially concerning Ethan’s wife Julia, and weaves them into the plot in some interesting ways.
Say what you will about Tom Cruise in real life but when he’s in Ethan Hunt mode, he’s a complete bad ass and he has plenty of opportunities for bad assness in Ghost Protocol from fighting his way through a prison riot in the opening of the movie, escaping from a sunken SUV and, probably most impressive, scaling the outside of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building in Dubai, using only special “sticky” gloves. Cruise does a lot of his own stunts as well, which is fantastic and helps make the action sequences that much more thrilling. Simon Pegg, as usual, brings the comic relief and it’s great to see him actually in the field as opposed to MI3 when he was sort of Ethan’s “Q” back at IMF HQ. The movie has a great sense of humor and most of it is Pegg’s Benji and his nervous energy. Pegg and Cruise have a great back and forth dynamic. Jeremy Renner proves himself a great choice to continue the franchise if Tom Cruise decides to stop and his Agent Brandt is just as competent as Ethan but I enjoyed the fact that their personalities are completely different. Ethan Hunt is completely unflappable and efficient while Brandt is sarcastic and more practical than Ethan; he’s less willing to perform Ethan’s insane risky manuevers but will do them if he has to. Rounding out the team is Paula Patton, who you wouldn’t think would be able to kick ass based on her previous roles in such films as Precious and Jumping the Broom but she more than holds her own with the men of the team. The only complaint I would have about the acting is that the bad guys are about as generic as can be with the original Swedish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s Michael Nyquist as the main bad guy.
Two of the defining characteristics of the MI series are crazy stunts and fun gadgets and Ghost Protocol has both in spades. The gadgets on display are some of the coolest of the series including a holographic projector screen to hide Ethan and Benji in the halls of the Kremlin, a robotic magnet platform that allows a person wearing a special suit to levitate and a contact lens that hides facial recognition software and a camera linked to a suitcase printer. The trademark masks of the series are wisely not relied on as heavily as in the previous movies and it’s fun to see Ethan and the IMF team have to rely on their actual spy skills, especially since, with no backup or support, many of their gadgets fail or are unavailable later in the film.
As far as stunts go, the aforementioned scaling of the Burj Khalifa is amazing and I can’t even imagine how it would look in IMAX. The whole Dubai sequence might be the highlight of the movie because it features a crazy Ethan manuever, the team having to trick two deadly killers with fake business deals and Ethan having to chase one of Cobalt’s henchmen in the middle of a massive sandstorm. The final battle between Cobalt and Ethan is also pretty great and takes place in an automated parking garage in India with constanlty moving platforms and shifting cars. Those that were worried that Brad Bird would be unable to direct live action, consider your fears dead and buried.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is easily the best entry in the MI series, even topping the underrated but awesome Mission Impossible 3 and has the perfect blend of gadgets, espionage and crazy stunts that the series is known for. I would be completely on board for another entry in the series led by Jeremy Renner but the end of Ghost Protocol leaves things open for Ethan Hunt to return as well. Either way, more Mission Impossible is something I would definitely be excited for and if you’re a fan of the series or just great action movies in general, you definitely have to go see Ghost Protocol.
4.5 out of 5