You know now that I’m sitting here thinking about it, I really don’t remember all that much about the previous Mission Impossible films. I remember the first one (which I should point out I haven’t seen since maybe a year after it was first released) was really confusing but it of course has several iconic scenes, such as the “oh god I have to be real quiet” scene and the “oh god a helicopter just blew up and threw me on to this speeding train” scene. The second one I remember was surprisingly boring but at the same time, way fucking ridiculous. Instead of kicking people like a normal person might, Tom Cruise would do unnecessarily elaborate shit like kicking off a guy’s chest and then doing a back flip in the air and kicking him in the face. Oh and doves. Doves flying in slow motion. I remember that quite well too. But I mean that’s a John Woo thing more than a Mission Impossible thing. The third one I remember enjoying, but I don’t recall almost any details except that Felicity was in it and Tom Cruise gets smashed into the side of a car by an explosion. Each movie is unique, and each one has its positives and negatives.
All that being said, for this fourth and latest installment, Ghost Protocol, I think I’ll primarily remember that moment where the entire film is really fucking good.
I’ll lead with flat-out stating that this is the best of the franchise, hands down. I haven’t disliked any of the MI films (with 2 coming the closest), but this is the first one I have genuinely loved and can fully get behind.
I’ll admit the overall plot may not score any originality points but it’s put to effective use. Basically a bad dude wants to get launch codes so he can launch a nuclear missile. Needless to say we don’t want that shit to happen so Ethan Hunt and his team (Simon Pegg being the only returning character from a previous film) set out to stop him. The problem? The entire IMF has been disavowed after being falsely implicated in a bombing at the Kremlin. So for this go, they have nobody to back them up, which puts an interesting spin on the proceedings. There’s some twists and turns along the way and overall, it works.
What the movie may sometimes lack in plot it more than makes up for in action. The film begins with a bang with a thrilling and well-choreographed (isn’t it nice to have fight scenes where you can tell what the hell is actually happening) prison escape and from there the action hardly ever lets up. The characters occasionally slow things down to have a conversation but I guarantee you that no more than 5 minutes later they’re going to be knee deep in one intense situation or another. Of course the centrepiece of the entire film is Ethan Hunt’s climb of the world’s tallest building. This entire sequence is just breathtaking, especially in Imax. While most movies would take away the impact of this scene by using green screen (something Cruise’s recent Knight and Day was very guilty of), MI went balls out, having Tom Cruise scale the actual building for the film and wow does it ever pay off. Many movies may be content to have this scene be the big final sequence but Ghost Protocol isn’t settling for that as here it actually happens midway through the movie and it is very quickly followed with a foot and car chase in the middle of a giant god damn sand storm. That should be all you need to know right there as I assume you are already buying your ticket online.
Almost as good as the giant action set pieces are the quieter moments where they are actually executing the more subtle (subtle for this kind of movie anyway) aspects of the plan. There’s an extended sequence involving a projector near the start of the film that features almost no dialogue or sound for a good 5 minutes and in our theatre you could hear a damn pin drop. Another scene involving two meetings happening simultaneously had the audience completely on edge, just waiting and waiting for something to go wrong.
And that’s something else I loved about this movie – things can, do, and very often go wrong. The characters are not treated as super geniuses that are prepared for any and all possible outcomes. Quite often the situation gets out of their control and they are forced to make things up as they go along. They make mistakes, they often get the shit kicked out of them, and they generally seem a lot more human than perhaps your standard action movie characters. Hell Tom Cruise’s character actually has to be talked into scaling the side of that building, he genuinely doesn’t want to do it. It’s little things like that that make the movie so much fun to watch.
Say what you will about Tom Cruise as a person, but there’s no denying that dude can carry a flick. He’s just so damn likable. Plus dude can RUN! I seriously can’t get enough of watching this man run. He runs like nobody else on the planet. He has mastered the science of running. If I know Tom Cruise is going to run in a movie, it doesn’t matter what it’s about, I will go see it. If they decided to remake Jingle All the Way with Tom Cruise running around town trying to get a Turbo Man, I would so be there. If like me you love yourself a good Tom Cruise run,Ghost Protocol will be like porn to you. Oh the rest of the cast is great too, but sadly they don’t run nearly as much.
If you are a fan of Mission Impossible, action movies, or even movies as a whole, you really need to go and see this one. Between this and Fast Five could we be looking at the resurgence of the properly done action movie? It’s hard to say for sure but wow is this ever a good first step.