Mission Impossible is one of those rare film franchises that actually improve with each instalment. Similar to the Alien series, each film has benefitted from varied world class directors bringing their unique storytelling sensibilities to each outing. Brian De Palma and John Woo directed the first two films, while the last one (in 2006) was directed by J.J. Abrams (Super 8, Star Trek), who here returns as a producer.
Obviously based on the 1960s and 70s TV series, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is another entry that boasts visual flair and a heady mix of action and suspense. The team surpass James Bond in the gadgets arena, with a collection of impressive hi-tech gizmos including life saving suction gloves, and a wonderful optical illusion that makes for the best use of the iPad yet, while the frenetic fisticuffs rival the work of Jason Bourne.
Tom Cruise may not be everybody’s favourite screen star, but for a man pushing 50 who insists on his own death defying stunts, his courage and charisma are hard to miss. Here he returns as IMF agent Ethan Hunt, while bringing back English actor Simon Pegg as Benji (now promoted to a field agent) from the last film, as well as Ving Rhames in a frustratingly short cameo. Rounding out Hunt’s new team are Paula Patton (Déjà Vu) and Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Town). This is director Brad Bird’s first live action film after helming animated films such as The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille and it’s obvious that he’s brought the Pixar focus on characters and drama to this film.
Josh Holloway (Lost) kicks things off with a quick chase through Budapest and it’s his fate that sets the rest of the events in motion, which most importantly entails rescuing Hunt from a Moscow prison. With his new crew assembled, Hunt and his fellow agents are soon disavowed and on the run with no help after a bombing at the Kremlin. To say more than that would ruin the film’s plot weaving surprises, but the impressive action scenes are always woven in organically. The highlight is of course, Hunt’s daring climb on the outside of the world’s tallest building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa in order to access a server before an intense exchange with their deadly adversaries. There is also lots of gunplay, punching and kicking, and a great foot, and then car, chase through an imposing sandstorm.
Filled with light humour when it needs to be, primarily thanks to Pegg, Ghost Protocol also contains some great dramatic moments. Patton and Renner play well rounded agents who at times struggle with their duty and inner grief, especially Renner who could be viewed as Cruise’s successor if Cruise were to ever leave this franchise. Renner has an intensity along with his everyman quality and the emotional moments that he shares with Cruise about their past give the film a great emotional core.
The ending seems almost forced as a way to explain Hunt’s change in relationship status from the last film, but that can’t stop what is a joyous and at times breathtaking experience that needs to be seen on the big screen, or even IMAX if there’s a screen near you.