a critiQal film review Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

Plot: When the IMF is implicated in a global terrorist bombing plot, Ghost Protocol is initiated, disavowing all IMF agents. Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his rogue new team go undercover to clear their organization's name with no help, no contact...and completely off the grid.

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After a couple years wait, the Mission: Impossible franchise gained a new sequel this past December, with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, and we were as excited as could be to check it out on the big screen.

Alas, with movie prices being what they are, and most of our money put away for Christmas, we didn’t get a chance to see this latest chapter in theaters, so we were resigned for waiting for the DVD. As it turns out, we weren’t the only ones, as redbox® was out of the film every time we checked.

Finally, however, we were able to snatch up a copy, and immediately sat down to discover if Brad Bird’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol could stack up with the other films in the series.

Mission: Impossible is actually a strange series, in that each film is a different interpretation of the concept, and the cast – like the director – can change from one film to the next. The only thing (aside from the IMF motif) that has stayed the same throughout is the reappearance of Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt.

From the beginning, he’s always been the main character the film revolves around, and Cruise has always managed – despite what may have been going on off-screen at the time – to play Ethan with style and panache – sort of a high-tech James Bond persona. And he, more than anything else, has caused viewers to come back for each reinterpretation. Once again, Cruise doesn’t disappoint, delivering breath-taking stunts and some solid character acting.

His backup crew this time around has one familiar face (no, it’s not the usual one, Ving Rhames, this time it’s Simon Pegg, who put in an appearance in Mission: Impossible III (2006)), and a few new characters, with Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner putting in their first appearances in the series.

As usual, Renner nearly steals the show, prompting viewers to think he might be a suitable replacement for Cruise in future films if the need arises. Patton, on the other hand, is just the token gal team member for this film, and sadly, those are starting to become a bit interchangeable. The returning Pegg continues to provide laughs, and yet still manages to play the computer-hacker-with-a-gun role (usually a dichotomy in Hollywood) rather well.

The bad guy this time around is Michael Nyqvist, and he, unlike his most recent predecessor (Philip Seymour Hoffman in Mission: Impossible III (2006)), doesn’t get very much time at all to explain himself. Instead, he’s the shadowy bad guy the heroes are after, and his motivations are spelled out by others. The shadowy bad guy makes for an interesting film, but does shortchange the actor playing said bad guy.

Brad Bird, who is best known for directing the animated Pixar film The Incredibles (2004), takes viewers through his own unique vision of the series with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, and it’s obvious right from the start he’s just as good at directing live action as he is with the computer-animated kind.

Still, it’s obvious he’s more of the computer animated mindset, as his sequences are a little more over-the-top than normal. While those sequences might fit into the animated world with ease (in fact, over-emphasis is actually needed in the animated world), they do seem a bit too extreme for live action, and the viewer may scoff a bit.

However, with the cast working well together (especially new edition Renner and veteran Cruise), they are able to make those over-the-top action sequences actually work. The special effects, of course, help, and whether Hunt is chasing his adversary through an oncoming sand storm or hanging from the 123rd floor of the tallest building in the world, the viewer should stay hooked as the impressive special effects help keep them in the moment.

So, maybe Brad Bird’s vision is a bit more over-the-top, but with Cruise, Renner and Pegg creating quite a team (and Patton providing some decent eye candy), a film that is paced to keep the viewers on the edge-of-their-seats in this mad race against time, and some impressive special effects and daring action sequences, viewers should find that Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a worthy continuation of this ever-changing series – and should find themselves looking forward to whatever is coming next.

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