Tom’s in cruise control with Pixar guru on board

Even if the Hollywood buzz word of late is ‘re-boot’ and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol feels like one, it actually isn’t. But you could be forgiven for feeling this way. Not only have they done away with the numbered titles, but this installment has a fresh quality to it like a carrot straight out of the garden. And you know what they say about dangling a carrot.

First time live action director Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille and The Iron Giant) making only his fourth movie, rattles off probably the best of the M:I movies. If Tom Cruise saw his enormous talent, why didn’t anybody else? Bird has shown his adeptness with humour, characters and rapid-fire storytelling in animation that should translate well into the action genre. It does. He keeps things jumping like Cruise on Oprah’s couch.

This fourth impossible mission, while still full of complex action, gadgets and gimmicks, keeps things fairly black and white – it’s the good guys versus the bad guys and there is no mistaking which is which.  

The movie starts with a botched IMF job in Hungary and quickly follows up in Russia where IMF agents Jane Carter (Patton) and Benji Dunn (Pegg) are breaking Cruise’s Ethan Hunt out of jail. The reason Hunt is there does not become clear til later in the movie. Once free, Ethan is dispatched, should he choose to accept it, to infiltrate the Kremlin along with Carter and Dunn. Unfortunately, the reason behind their infiltration is a clever cover set-up by madman Kurt Hendricks (Nyqvist), who needs the diversion to steal a nuclear launch device. He bombs the Kremlin, thereby implicating the IMF who are then disavowed by the US government under the term Ghost Protocol (which is a fancy phrase for “We have no idea who you are.”)

With the unimaginable imaginable, Cruise must hunt down Hendricks with the help of only three other agents, analyst (hmm, Jeremy Renner – the new face of the Bourne franchise and Hawkeye of The Avengers – as an analyst, hmmm…) William Brandt is also assigned to his team, and only a boxcar of gadgets (still enough to blow anyone’s mind) in order to clear their names and stop Hendricks from blowing up the world.

Ghost Protocol’s only holdovers from previous films are Cruise and Pegg, although this time round, Pegg’s comical gadget guy gets significantly more screen time for brilliant results. Bird has wrapped this film with a nice outer layer of humour, especially Pegg who has great comedic timing and does a superb job adding humour elements in the darkest moments. Bird never lets things get too serious, which keeps the movie feeling grounded even when Cruise is dangling 130 stories in the air above Dubai.

Of course there are moments where the real world and M:I world are so far apart you could only see them if you are Galileo, but there is a reason it’s called Mission:Impossible, as sometimes the laws of physics are bent a little bit. But the payoff is worth every one of Newton’s laws.

‘With the exception of a talky epilogue, Ghost Protocol is a whirlwind (storm) of action. Perhaps animation has expanded Bird’s conception of what’s possible in a live film. Or maybe action films have degenerated to the point that they are basically cartoons with live actors. In the end, Bird does it so well, you don’t really care how impossible it may be, you just want to see more.


Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (15)

Dir: Brad Bird; US action, 2011, 133 mins; Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Vladimir Mashkov, Lea Seydoux, Michael Nyqvist
Premiered January 26
Playing nationwide

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