Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Genre: Action, Adventure
Opens exclusively in IMAX on Friday, December 16th, 2011, with wide release on Wednesday, December 21st, 2011
Run Time: 2 hours 13 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Michael Nyqvist
Directed by Brad Bird (Ratatouille, The Incredibles, The Iron Giant)
Tom Cruise reprises his role as secret CIA operative Ethan Hunt, in this, the 4th installment of the Mission: Impossible movie franchise, which itself was based on the 1960's TV series. In Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Ethan's IMF (Impossible Mission Force), is implicated in a terrorist attack on the Kremlin in Russia which forces the United States government to institute "ghost protocol," a shut-down and denial from all agencies that the IMF even exists. Essentially, this leaves Ethan and a few of his IMF team members isolated in Moscow to investigate the real terror plot with little to no resources or available help.
But pay no mind to the plot. The Mission: Impossible films originally stood out as legitimate action blockbusters due to the amazing and iconic action sequences that we would find our hero Ethan Hunt in. We're used to this genre giving us more than a lion's share of explosions, chases, and death-defying stuntwork, but who can forget Tom Cruise hanging from a wire as he attempted to break in to Langley in the first film? How about the helicopter exploding through the train tunnel in part 2? Mission: Impossible has always had a knack for delivering the impossible, in a believably impressive way.
So in this spirit, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol does not fail. Shot partially in the IMAX format, the film is basically a series of spy missions interrupted from time to time by characters explaining plot details, or outlining the next mission at hand. These breaks involve likeable characters such as Simon Pegg (who also appeared in the 3rd film) and Tom Cruise himself, who is and always will be a true Hollywood star. But with a ho-him terrorist plot, these exposition scenes made the film seem a bit too long. I would find myself waiting impatiently for everyone to just shut up so that we could get on to the next breathtaking action sequence.
And there is no short-fall of breathtaking action. In fact, viewed in the impressive IMAX format, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol includes some of the best action sequences I can recall seeing in recent memory. Tom Cruise attempts to outrun a bomb explosion, he finds himself scaling the outside of the world's largest building, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, and gets involved in a massive chase/fight sequence in the midst of a fierce sandstorm while running down the bad guy. These are only a few of the soon-to-be iconic scenes that made this film a joyous thrill-ride, positioning itself nicely within the Mission: Impossible canon.
Although this mission could stand-alone for folks who haven't seen the prior films, there are a few payoffs for those that have. The film's final scenes contains a cameo or two from characters that you will recognize from Ethan's past, and there are also clever twists on some of the Mission: Impossible staples that we've grown to know - some issues with the well-known masks from previous films, or how about a phone booth announcing its self-destruction, but needing an extra tap from Ethan to make it happen? These little touches reward fans of the series.
Directory Brad Bird makes his first leap into live films, and brings with him the same inventiveness and spirit that would be found in an animated feature. There are no limits to what can be done in animation, and apparently we learn that there are no limits for what can be done in live action movies either.
Despite things dragging on a bit, Mission: Impossible had me on the edge of my seat in utter amazement at times. I found myself wanting to cheer and clap at times, and giving out deep exhales in-between adventures.
For the Burj Khalifa scene alone, you should go see the film in IMAX. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to try not to have a good time. It's nearly impossible.
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