Mission:Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)
Back in Moscow for the second time today, at least for a little bit. Ethan Hunt is back, but our guess is it's not for long. A stripped down team comprising Paula Patton and Simon Pegg (aided notably by new IMF operative Jeremy Renner) open the movie in the Russian capital, on a job to infiltrate the Kremlin, just before it blows up. Set up? Well, there's the rub...
So, is this what the film needs? More humour? Well, that is the what comes across as the biggest change in this formulaic, exciting and reliable franchise. The car chases, gunfights, technical gadgetry and physical stunts are all here in full force. Cruise knows exactly what his audience expects from this franchise and he continues to deliver it in spades. Okay, it's not subtle any more than it is complicated, but what do you really need from this? This is the definition of blockbuster entertainment on an industrial scale and for those that like their thrills glossy, then you are guaranteed a great time. The set pieces are a delight to watch throughout, even if the plot is maybe not as challenging as some of the previous films. Globetrotting is a staple with MI and this fourth instalment is no different, taking in Moscow, Dubai and Mumbai to name but three.
The acting by everyone is, if not outstanding, then certainly above average. Cruise and Renner bounce well off one another, which bodes well for the future as Cruise won't be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound forever. Pegg and Patton are suitable support as the now charmingly familiar, amiable tech genius and glamorous loyal assassin respectively.
Pegg's role is substantial compared to his previous outing and simply having more screen time often gives the film a lighter feel. It is unusual for Cruise to poke fun at himself in this series, but Pegg is the perfect foil to allow him to do just that. It seems that the years of taking himself too seriously may be over. Amazing what age and experience can achieve. Can you imagine Ethan Hunt behaving this way with John Voight?
Every MI has its baddies of course and here we have the opportunity to enjoy the talents of Michael Nyqvist, who movie lovers will know from the original Swedish version of 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' and its sequels. Nyqvist is a true find and an inspired choice for the part of Hendricks, the bad man with the mad plan. There's always one. He is not on screen long enough for me, however, but when he does appear, his scenes are taut, his acting careful, deliberate and suitably intimidating.
I won't labour you any longer, suffice to say that if you don't already know what Mission Impossible is, then you must have been living under a rock. First time live-actioner Brad Bird does a great job with the direction here, but you can't help but wonder just how much say he had in the edit. This is probably not my favourite of the films, which many have suggested, as personally, I feel there is a little too much humour for the story and subject matter. This could easily be Bird's influence and whilst a smidgen is just enough, it shouldn't remind you of The Incredibles. This is the least thriller-esque and the most accessibly plug and play of all the series. As I say, however, this is superlative entertainment for viewers that like just enough plot, but prefer the bangs and whistles. Great fun.