Friday, December 23, 2011

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

As an instantaneous fan of almost everything that Tom Cruise touches (except the horrible ‘Knight and Day’), it didn’t take much effort to get me terribly excited for the release of the latest Mission Impossible film. What I was expecting was thrilling action sequences, dazzling set pieces and a few cheesy action one-liners – I got all of this, with a little touch of ‘awesome’ added that sweetens this fantastic popcorn spectacle even further!

Of course, Tom Cruise is back in full form, as he plays the enigmatic Ethan Hunt in an adventure that feels quite personal, but more than accessible enough for those new to the franchise to enjoy. Joining him is an all-star cast of Simon Pegg (Paul, Hot Fuzz, MI 3), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Avengers, The Town) and the beautiful Paula Patton (Deja Vu, Hitch, Mirrors). It’s an effective mix of characters that helps to give the film some well needed light moments and a true sense of camaraderie that builds as the team gets closer to accomplishing their goal. Seeing them work together feels surprisingly honest and infectious – You’ll most likely want to start your own crime fighting espionage team before the end of the movie (I don’t however recommend this...).

But forget about the actors – The true star here is director Brad Bird, best known for this work on critically acclaimed animations like Ratatouille, The Incredibles and the Iron Giant. This very unlikely choice of director might seem like cinematic suicide, but Bird proves that his talents are very much transferrable to seemingly any genre he tackles.

And his talents are very clearly displayed in Ghost Protocol, as audience members can indulge in a gloriously extreme sense of tension that leads to more than a few ‘edge of your seat’ moments. Bird manages a striking sense of urgency during action sequences that I haven’t come across in a while. At times, it really feels like you’re watching a suspense thriller, cleverly masquerading as a Hollywood action blockbuster.  Bird’s fresh approach pays off in spades, as he effectively balances all of the suspense with ‘to-the-point’ scenes of tactical mission planning and a few verbal confrontations, resulting in a generous runtime of over 2 hours.

“At times, it really feels like you’re watching a suspense thriller, cleverly masquerading as a Hollywood action blockbuster."

Don’t be fooled however – At its heart, Ghost Protocol is an action flick, which means it behaves as one for most of the time: Dialogue is mostly cheesy (forgivably so) & minimalistic and action sequences are loud and a bit over the top, even though they come across as quite realistic when compared to other entries in the series.

Add to the mix some fantastic sound editing, a familiar & fitting soundtrack and some splendid set pieces and you have an action extravaganza that ticks all the right boxes for a film of the genre. With the right expectations and an adequate supply of refreshments, you’re sure to enjoy and appreciate Bird’s take on Ethan Hunt’s impossible legacy.

The Hoody-look works well as both a practical and stylish number for Ethan in this particular scene.
Highlight: There’s a scene that involves a steep climb up a building that is so suspenseful that I might need finger-nail replacement surgery because of it. A great testament to Bird’s skill.