“MISSION IMPOSSIBLE” PUSHES ACTION TO NEXT LEVEL OF CINEMATIC IMMERSION
Action films need to have two qualities in order to become great: showing us things we haven’t seen before and having a main hero (and preferably villain) who we can follow. For sequels, there is a third quality. You need to up the stakes for not just the world, but for your hero. You need to have an evolution.
“Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol,” the fourth in the franchise and the live-action debut of director Brad Bird (“The Iron Giant” and “The Incredibles”), follows all these rules with a precise and rather surprising panache. This film has action sequences I can honestly say I’ve never seen before (one of which approaches “Inception” in sheer awe mode) and characters, both old and new, who keep my interest and make me want to know more. Where I’m standing, this is the most enjoyable and spellbinding of the series. For a live-action directorial debut, this is downright impressive. Brad Bird, you are my new hero. Under Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino, of course.
Now when you’re dealing with this franchise in particular, there’s only so far you can depart from the basic procedural premise. Ethan Hunt is given a mission. He accepts. He meets some buddies. He goes on the impossible mission. Some of his buddies will die. He’ll succeed. The end. Because of the expectations of this film and what it does, I will not discuss the plot. Going in with no idea of what you’re going to get is a pleasure, considering that there are a few surprises and deviations.
So while a chief portion of the story itself is only as good as your average weekly TV procedural (“Chuck” and “Burn Notice” come to mind), the success of a film like this depends on characters evolving and the new tricks of the impossible mission occurring. The mission makes sense. The mission actually does seem impossible and the ways in which they make it possible are, in a word, genius. Everything works. While the story mostly resides in the usual well-trod familiarity of expectations, it’s uniqueness as both an action film and as part of the Mission: Impossible franchise is how it goes about its mission. There isn’t too much to predict, thankfully. Just sit back and enjoy.
“Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” is an outstanding action spectacle that enthralls and captivates with Brad Bird’s frenetic directorial energy and Tom Cruise’s star power. I’m usually not a fan of Tom Cruise, but I really enjoyed his performance this time around. Alongside him, I loved the casting of Jeremy Renner (one of my new favorite actors) as an “analyst” who takes part in Hunt’s operations. Renner is an already-established leading man and I love his screen presence, from “The Hurt Locker” to “The Town” to “Thor.” The man has an exciting career ahead of him and being able to match Cruise head-to-head in not an easy feat.
The action sequences are almost universally original and mesmerizing, with the greatest one is the bit I’m sure you’ve seen in the trailer involving a massive skyscraper. This sequence has to be the best example of action immersion I’ve ever seen – the setup and cinematography is flawless in every detail, with everything coming together for us to actually “feel” the suspense. For the first (and only) time of the franchise, we truly forget that the franchise would never kill off Ethan Hunt – and all we see is a 120-floor drop with malfunctioning equipment. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. My heart was pounding. I was literally leaning all the way forward in my seat. This never happens to me. This was an experience you can only get from the greatest of movies.
In the end, even though the story is kinda what you’d expect and nothing was mind-blowing with the characters or the plot, I’d still say that this is my favorite in the franchise, and in terms of action films of 2011, I would only put it behind “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” in terms of sheer entertainment value and unpredictable delight. This is a very fun movie and it boasts of some of the best action sequences since Christopher Nolan reinvented what action means with “The Dark Knight” and “Inception.” The scenes are so good that I want to see the film again in theaters JUST so I can see those scenes again. What better compliment is possible for action film?