Billed as a “Tom Cruise Production,” “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol,” is the franchise’s latest and most exuberant offering yet. It not only puts Cruise squarely in his comfort zone, action hero par excellence, but fulfills the promise of Ethan Hunt’s character. In this film, Hunt finally becomes the methodical efficient operative we’ve watched him develop into over the past 15 years through three very different instalments.
We first met Brian De Palma’s Ethan as an impressive but naive pawn caught in a high stakes game that no one, certainly not the audience, understood. Jon Woo’s master spy was not only an action star, but an absurd hopeless romantic whose leading lady nearly cost him everything, and J.J. Abram’s Hunt left us feeling as though Ethan would ditch the incredible tech and self destructing missives for a nice reliable mini-van to carry organic milk to and from his quaint house in the suburbs.
Under Brad Bird (“The Incredibles,” 2004, “The Iron Giant,” 1999), Hunt becomes the stuff of legend. Clad primarily in work clothes, and free of any romantic interest to risk the fate of the world for, Ethan leaps, ducks, strafes, and runs, boy does he run, straight back into the pulsating heart of the franchise’s namesake, the impossible action.
Disavowed for the bulk of the film by the IMF (Impossible Missions Force) after an unexpected frame job which blows up the Kremlin, agent Ethan Hunt’s hastily assembled team must go rogue to save the world from Russian nuclear warheads and to clear their names. Hunt’s ragtag team complete with funny techno geek (Simon Pegg), leggy femme fatale (Paula Patton), and enigmatic newcomer (Academy Award nominee Jeremy Renner) are all old hat, but Bird manages to get his actors to play off of each other in a genuinely funny and at times touching way.
The plot is as thin as you would expect. Cruise and company globe trot across locales like Moscow, Dubai, and Mumbai in the blink of an eye, performing fake seductions, gangland exchanges, and committing to celluloid perhaps the most evocative parking garage fight scene ever. The only real chink is the motivations of Bird’s villain (Michael Nyqvist), a Russian terrorist who salivates at the thought of starting nuclear war, which are never really discussed. Then again, believability is hardly the point of this 133-minute ride.
“Ghost Protocol” is Bird’s first live-action feature and his skill as an animator shows in the gorgeous tight compositions and the clever use of space and perspective. Bird’s Hunt needs no time to rest as the film moves at breakneck speed from one exotic locale and one death defying insane stunt to another. Though Cruise’s brilliant veteran gets the lion’s share of the action, Bird makes good use of his indie supporting cast, even squeezing in a relatively lackluster girl fight, and delivers a visually stunning tense action flick that’s well worth the price of admission.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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