27 December 2011
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE- GHOST PROTOCOL- Review
We reunite with Ethan Hunt as he languishes in a Russian prison, charged with an unsanctioned hit on a group of Serbian nationals. In short order, the IMF breaks him out and assigns him a new mission, and a new team, comprising the vengeful Agent Carter and tech geek Benji Dunn. During their mission, Ethan's team then becomes the scapegoat for a terrorist attack against the Kremlin, and are concordantly disavowed by the US government. Together with Brandt, a prickly field analyst, they are all that remains of the IMF, and their mission is to clear their names and prevent a global nuclear war.
I didn't take to Brian DePalma's sleek reboot, and I outright loathed John Woo's embarrassing sequel, so it took quite a lot for Abrams to turn me around with the third instalment. While Mission: Impossible 3 put more focus on the team, it also continued in the line of some of the series' most repetitive tropes, more on which later. But what really makes Ghost Protocol so superb is the addition of Bird, directing live-action for the first time. You need only watch The Incredibles to see his credentials in spy movies, and his general fanboy approach to the genre. This is a Brad Bird film, not a Tom Cruise film.
That's not to say that Cruise is sidelined, having taken a paycut in order to get this film made with himself at the forefront, because he totally benefits from the more collaborative atmosphere about this instalment. With someone as talented and assured as Bird at the helm, Cruise cuts loose with the charisma. You can say that his constant running, and insistence on doing all of his own stunts, is the ultimate expression of short man syndrome, but I think that's somewhat unfair, to a man who is still probably the most compulsively watchable action hero in modern cinema.
Having done BlogalongaBond since January, the plot of Ghost Protocol seemed more than a little familiar, and that is probably its biggest failure. It uses the fallback plot of the James Bond franchise, in which an international criminal steals weapons from one side of a conflict, to attack the other, and hopes to incite a global conflict. This plot has thus far appeared in You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, with different villains in each. The villain in question usually does this for poorly drawn reasons, or just for shits and giggles, and it's unfortunate that Michael Nyqvist's character is no exception. He is so poorly developed that the film threatens to come undone, every time he's on screen.
Up until Ghost Protocol, there's hardly been a single antagonist who wasn't some kind of traitor within the IMF. Hunt never seemed to stop having to bring down his own people in order to save the day. This new instalment is more outward-looking, and at first seems to set up Hendricks with a motivation similar to Jared Harris' Moriarty in the recent Sherlock Holmes sequel. We don't see enough of him to properly flesh that out, and so when he turns out to have great fighting skills towards the end of the film we don't have much choice but to take his word for it. Every blow struck, throughout the film, has consequences, so it's a shame to forsake context at that last hurdle.
But make no mistake, the weight of the action is one of the best parts about the film. Ethan Hunt might still be somewhat superpowered, but he's not quite as invulnerable as he has seemed previously. He makes mistakes, sometimes even played for comedy value, and those mistakes always serve to increase the stakes. In one half hour sequence during the second act, clearly the most outstanding sequence put onto the big screen this year, the stakes increase in this manner to a point that is almost unbearable, but absolutely riveting at the same time. The film is so unpredictable in moments likes these, the missions actually seem impossible, for the first time in the series.
Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol is now showing in cinemas, and on IMAX screens, nationwide.
If you've seen Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol, why not share your comments below? I'm especially eager to see this one again, on an IMAX screen, so if you have already seen it there, let me know what it's like.
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.