Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – A Review

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – Dir: Brad Bird; *ing: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Michal Nyqvist

Ethan Hunt for Red October

While watching this, the fourth installment in the 16 year-old MI franchise, it suddenly hit me which other film of the 90s it reminded me of: Salman-Madhuri flirt fest Hum Aapke Hain Kaun? No, wait, don’t leave, I promise I’m not off my meds, just bear with me while I explain. Remember how that extravaganza seemed not so much like a movie but the most God-awfully interminable shaadi video of a relative you wanted to murder in their sleep? And, more to the point, how you deduced that its evil genius of a director, Sooraj Barjatya, didn’t actually write a film but simply filmed a bunch of annoying ‘didi-devar-maa-behen-dulhan’ songs and then laced a few pointless scenes in between to throw you off the scent? Well, kind of similar to that, I have this gnawing, sneaking suspicion that the people behind Ghost Protocol got together and dreamed up some awesome action set-pieces (“Tom dangling off of Burj Khalifa for bone-crushingly contrived reasons? Hell, yeah!”), and then filled the gaps with the tiniest smidge of a plot for credibility’s sake. Or to avoid getting called out by that scary badass Gordon Ramsay. Probably.

But if that intro makes it sound like I’m dissing the film then I retract, retract, retract, for the latest MI lives up to the giddying standards set by its predecessors for sheer entertainment value, and then some. Its plot may be thinner than the manuscript of Kim Kardashian: The Marriage Years, but it doesn’t try to pretend otherwise, doing away with the need for any post-climactic groveling, apologetic ‘but there IS a deeper meaning’ shenanigans. No, instead we get Cruise doing what Cruise does best: putting us, the audience, through bowel-torturing moments of terrified exhilaration as his character, super spy Ethan Hunt, and company, go mad-scrambling from one audacious action sequence to another, while giving a cursory nod now and then to a – let’s face it – rather silly story about a nutjob called Hendricks (Nyqvist) who has gotten ahold of Russian nuclear codes which he plans to use to start a global nuclear war. Why? I guess it must be because that’s what all the cool kids are doing these days, man. Anyway, so the mission, should they choose to accept it (and they always do; no one ever turns around and says, ‘nah, I’m good, thanks’) is to save the planet from going down the mighty atomic toilet. Again. Will they succeed? Is George Dubya a grubby footnote in the almanac of global village idiots?

Helming this hi-octane cinematic mayhem is Brad Bird, best known so far for his fabulous work on animated gems like The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and the criminally overlooked and under-seen The Iron Giant. And, not surprisingly, his sensibilities suit the frenetic, almost cartoonish (or graphic novel-esque, at the very least) aesthetic of the film. He’s clearly enjoying himself in this live-action genre, milking it for all it’s worth, and flicking out any possible dull moments like a dead fly from his overflowing cup. He has an unusually excellent cast at his disposal (unusual for an actioner, anyway), with Pegg, Patton and Renner proving to be more than worthy additions to the MI roster. And whatever one may think of Cruise as an actor, there is no doubt that he throws himself into this part with unbridled relish, and his commitment to it is a wonder to behold.

Go on, choose the next one then.

Cult: Mission: Impossible (The TV Series) – Where it all started, now finally available on DVD.

Current: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Hollywood remakes the Swedish thriller – and doesn’t screw it up!

Coming Attraction: The Bourne Legacy – Jeremy Renner will headline this re-worked continuation of the Robert Ludlum spy series

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