Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol - Movie Review


Starring Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Vladimir Mashkov, Josh Holloway, Tom Wilkinson, Anil Kapoor, Samuli Edelmann and Lea Seydoux.
Directed by Brad Bird.

Tom Cruise has turned the Mission Impossible movies into his own James Bond franchise, and while I've enjoyed all of them, I can't say I've loved any of them. The first one was a fun mystery, the second one was John Woo's parody of himself, and the third one was fast and fun, but all three were pretty disposable. This one's easily the best in the series.

Cruise, for the couch-jumping hullabaloo and the Stepfording-of-Katie-Holmes kerfuffle and the Scientology bruhaha, is still one of the coolest movie stars working today. He's back as superhuman spy Ethan Hunt, a Jason Bourne with a perfect memory. This time around he has to stop a nuclear activist trying to start World War III so Earth can be rebuilt from the ashes.

Movies on one level are supposed to transport the viewer, and here we go from the Kremlin to Dubai to India. Director Brad Bird brings a lot of sensibilities he displayed in The Incredibles, and that's a good thing. We get sweeping shots of the cities, we get heroes barely avoiding sudden death. I saw it in IMAX, and when Cruise has to step out of the world's tallest building in Dubai, it feels like we've gone out on the ledge with him. That's exactly what I would want.

And it's funny. The makers have Cruise, they have co-action-star Jeremy Renner, they have the sexy Paula Patton, and they make full use of the comic potential of Simon Pegg's chatty Benji. One thing Iv'e appreciated about the MI franchise is while Cruise is the star, Ethan can never accomplish his missions without a team.

This was Bird's first live-action directorial effort (he also did Iron Giant and Ratatouille), and the transition is seamless. I look forward to whatever he does next (which happens to be about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.) ((Wow, he's younger than me. Man, I've made some wrong choices in life.))

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