Thursday, January 12, 2012

MOVIE REVIEW: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

The Other Half and I were feeling like watching something not too serious for the last weekend of the year and since Brad Bird is one of our favorite directors (The Incredibles, The Iron Giant) we decided to go see his lastest film, even if it is the 4th installment in the Mission Impossible movies starring Tom Cruise.

Also influencing our decision to see the film was the fact that it was sporting a surprisingly positive rating on of 93%, pretty high for your typical mindless action flick. The third one (2006's Mission Impossible III) had been produced and directed by JJ Abrams and had (somewhat ineffectively, in my estimation) combined numerous action sequences with intricate, highly charged emotional scenes between Cruise and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

This fourth outing stars Cruise again (now 49 years old but astonishingly still able to maintain his credibility as male action hero) as well as Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), Paula Patton (Déjà Vu, Precious) and Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Town). (Spoiler alert! Tom Wilkinson has a literally short-lived cameo as the Secretary of Defense and Anil Kapoor (the TV host in Slumdog Millionaire) shows up late in the film as comically randy billionaire.) Looks like actor Josh Holloway (Sawyer on Lost) is starting to get some work in movies although his part is also pretty small.

I would talk about the plot of the movie but it is typically simultaneously indecipherable and non-sensical. What is most important in this kind of movie are the shooting locations, the fancy gadgets and the overall production values and on this level Mission Impossible IV does not disappoint.

The movie begins in Budapest, Hungary (the second film I have seen in little over a month to do so: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy also begins with a pivotal scene in this apparently gorgeous city) and then movies on to The Kremlin in Moscow, then the tallest building in the world (Burj Khalifa), located in the United Arab Emirates and then ends in Mumbai, India. It really is quite thrilling to get a close-up look at the interior an exterior of the Burj Khalifa, as well as the view from 130 stories.

There are all sorts of fanciful gadgets used by the "Impossible Mission Force," even the much-maligned, (frankly ridiculous) full-face masks introduced in the very first edition of the series which basically allows anyone's face to appear on anyone else's body (perfect facial impersonation). However, here the writer (or director) do themselves a favor by making fun of the face masks, while still deploying them in a way which forwards "the plot."

The production values are frankly top-notch throughout and though the film is well-over 2-hours it never seems to slow down and due to the penchant for killing characters played by major actors the viewer really does have a sense that perhaps this time the bad guys will actually win and that any member of the team can be killed at just about any moment.

Except for Tom of course. After all, there is the inevitable Mission Impossible V  to look forward to!

Title: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.
Director: Brad Bird.
Running Time: 2 hours, 13 minutes.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence.
Release Date: December 21, 2011.
Viewing Date: December 30, 2011.

 Plot: C.
Acting: A-.
Visuals: A.
Impact: A-.

Overall Grade: B+ (3.33/4.0).

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