Directed by: Brad Bird
Written by: Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Paula Patton, Josh Holloway, Michael Nyqvist, Vladimir Mashkov, Lea Seydoux, Anil Kapoor
Runtime: 132 min
This is not just another mission. The IMF is shut down when it's implicated in a global terrorist bombing plot. Ghost Protocol is initiated, and Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his rogue new team must go undercover to clear their organization's name. No help, no contact, off the grid. You have never seen a mission grittier and more intense than this.
Brad Bird is the director, and Jeremy Renner (William Brandt) is one of the new additions to an already recognizable cast.
I am resuming my reviews of the Mission: Impossible franchise, anticipating the release of Mission: Impossible – Fallout, which comes out a few days from now. My thoughts on Mission: Impossible, Mission: Impossible II and Mission: Impossible III are already written, and you can click on the titles to read my reviews for those movies. After a massive decline in quality from M:I-1 to M:I-2, MI:-3 picked up the saga again. Is Ghost Protocol able to maintain or even improve the franchise high stakes?
This is the best film of the franchise or, at least, right up there with the original. There are so many great things to write about this movie that I am going to start with my couple of issues since honestly, they are not that big of a deal, and I want to end my review with positive things to transmit.
So, the villain ... Michael Nyqvist portrays Kurt Hendricks, and he is the worst antagonist of the whole saga. The actor is great, no problem there. The big issue is that Kurt is the depthless character in the Mission: Impossible series. He barely has screentime, so naturally, his motivations are null, and there is really nothing to him. He just wants to blow things up and start a war or something.
My only other issue has to do with the action. No, not with the action itself but how it progressed along the runtime. The standout scenes are undoubtedly the shots in Dubai and in the Burj Khalifa building. These moments are midway through the film, so the action of the third act, the one that usually should blow our minds and have all of the tension and adrenaline, feels like a level below.
However, and this is extremely important for you to understand: remember when I wrote that M:I-3 had the best action in the entire saga? Well, Ghost Protocol just surpassed it and in such a phenomenal way! What I wrote in the last paragraph is correct regarding the quality of the action declining towards the end, but bare in mind that I am writing about some of the best action stunts in movie history! The third act's action makes tons of other films jealous, I don't have any doubts about that.
Still, the big adrenaline rush arrives at the one-hour mark. Everything, literally every single scene in Dubai, not only the fantastic Burj Khalifa stunts, are gold. Pure gold. This movie was released in 2011, and the real action displayed in it is unbelievable. I mean, if I was seeing this 7 years ago, the first thing I would do once I got home, was to google which stunts were real or not. Believe or not, a lot of them are. Especially the ones you think are not.
Brad Bird has a great filmography concerning animated films, but this was his first live-action one. He is superb! The cinematography is jaw-droppingly beautiful, every shot is dripping with visual quality, and the score is riveting. However, he shines brightly when it comes to the screenplay. With the help of his writers, he is able to write a simple yet exciting plot, filled with suspenseful moments and high levels of excitement.
The characters have never been better written, and the cast has never had such great performances. Jeremy Renner is terrific as Brandt, and his backstory provides a compelling and secret link to Hunt, which plays a very significant plot twist later on. Paula Patton is charming as Jane Carter, and once again this character is given an emotional motivation to accomplish the IMF's mission, which makes me care about her. Simon Pegg is humorous as Benji, who receives a much more prominent role to play in this movie. He somehow replaces Ving Rhames as the character who brings the bits of comedy and banter, which are always a breath of relief in such a fast-paced film.
Finally, Tom Cruise is incredible as Ethan. I mean, he transcends to a whole other level. When you have an actor who does all his stunts, that's great. But when you have an actor who does all his stunts, being one of those stunts clinging to the side of the highest building on the planet ... That's just ridiculously outstanding! In my humble opinion, I think Cruise is the best action movie star of all-time. I mean, how can someone deny his commitment and courage?
Before I finish, I will address the pacing. Even though it didn't bother me, a lot of people complained about the non-stop action of M:I-3 and I understand their point. However, the balance in M:I-4 is perfect. There is always some sort of transition to the next action sequences. Either the team is discussing the plan, or some character is getting time to be developed or something in between. There is never a dull moment, but the frenetic pacing is better controlled.
All in all, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol is right up there with the original when it comes to the best film of the franchise. The action is mind-blowing and the best in the saga. The characters have never been better flushed out, the cast is fantastic (especially Tom Cruise, naturally) and the pacing is fast but controlled. Brad Bird directs the hell out of the movie, with beautiful wide shots and exceptional cinematography. An exciting yet simple plot is only injured by the worst villain of the series and by some nit-picky things from my part regarding the third act's action.