Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Review
It’s fair to say that 2011 hasn’t been a vintage year for action with the strongest efforts coming from the arguably unexpected sources of Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and Fast & Furious 5; thankfully, Ethan Hunt and the IMF have come along to redress the balance. Zipping along at a frantic pace that belies its two-hour running time, Mission:Impossible – Ghost Protocol is the finest M:I film of the series and, while it suffers some last-act drag, is consistently thrilling and entertaining, making it perfect family fare for a Christmas trip to the cinema.
Starting with Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) breaking out of a Moscow jail, Ghost Protocol swiftly moves into action as the IMF are implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin. As a result, Hunt – along with team members Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Jane Carter (Paula Patton) – is forced to go rogue to clear the IMF’s name and stop the nuclear apocalypse that the mysterious Cobalt (Michael Nyqvist) is intent on starting.
Containing all the conventions we’ve come to know and love from the M:I franchise over the years – “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”, impressive gadgetry etc – the fourth instalment is helped by the comfortable, warm feel of inviting back old friends and it’s also helped by a middle section set in Dubai that is – and this is no exaggeration – perfect. Comprised of three extended sequences – a breathtaking ascent up Burj Khalifa, a nail bitingly tense double-bluff and a thrilling sandstorm chase – it’s an astonishing piece of cinema and, with the added impact of IMAX scenes, it simply has to be seen on the biggest screen possible; Hunt’s climb up the Khalifa, in particular, is awe-inspiring, and vertigo inducing, given the sublime sweeping cinematography employed.
That the Dubai segment is not the climax means that the Mumbai-based third act is somewhat disappointing by comparison. It still has its moments, a brilliantly smarmy cameo from Anil Kapoor especially, but even when the climactic battle is an inventive mano-a-mano combat set in a revolving car park, it just feels a bit flat and an anti-climax. Still, it’s slickly produced enough to ensure it’s far from dull and even overcomes the fact that Nyqvist’s baddie is probably one of the least threatening villains of recent years – quite a triumph when you consider he’s provoking a nuclear holocaust.
Performances, otherwise, are solid across the board with Pegg excellent as the comic relief who doesn’t just become a disposable character there for the laughs, while Cruise is as chiselled and charismatic as ever. Brad Bird, in his first live action directorial effort, is a touch clunky on the emotional scenes but we’re not here for that, and when it comes to the action and spy games, he nails it with a real sense of energy permeating every sequence, especially in the pulsating prison break that opens the film with a bang.
Most pleasingly of all is how the world of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is so straightforward. None of the twists and double crosses that have blighted recent blockbusters – hello, Pirates – and, as a result, it’s a film where good and bad is very black and white. It’s delightfully old-fashioned in that sense and the result is a film that is pacy, thrilling and is out to do just one thing: entertain. It does this in spades and even if the climax can’t quite live up to the brilliance of what’s come before, it’s still more than worth the ride.