Starring: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner
I find the whole Mission: Impossible franchise quite an interesting one. Whilst Tom Cruise remains a constant, and there are returning favourites like Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg, it is almost inconsistent in the type of film it presents.
Where M:I1 was a mixture of espionage and intelligence, with only a small amount of high-octane action, M:I2 was pure popcorn entertainment, and sadly got criticised for its simple “style over substance” approach. M:I3 followed that up with a more intense and brutal affair, which leads us to M:I4.
Tom Cruise returns as IMF Agent Ethan Hunt, as he is talked into taking an assignment which goes badly leading to the whole government agency being disavowed, leaving Cruise and his cohorts (Pegg, Patton and Renner) to foil the plot of a Swedish terrorist who plans to start a nuclear war.
Now, I am one of those people who is happy to ignore all the “crazy” religious beliefs (allegedly crazy, our lawyer tells me) that Cruise has, and focus solely on what he does in front of the camera. I still like the guy, and bar the occasional slip *coughValkyriecough* I think he still has alot to contribute to modern cinema. He may not be as influential as 20 years ago, but let’s not write him off just yet.
The Mission: Impossible series has been his pet project for a while now, and I am pleased he has this passion, because outside of comic-book movies and Sly Stallone’s parade of Golden Oldies, the action movie genre is sorely lacking, with most attempts merely being passable. What happened to the action star hero of days gone by?
So how does Ghost Protocol hold up to the rest of the films? It’s a pretty entertaining instalment, with Cruise still excelling in the lead. One could be forgiven for assuming that given his age, and this being the fourth instalment, he might decide to take more of a back seat this time around, but he is still in the thick of the action, and still doing the old spy thing impressively.
As a self-confessed Simon Pegg-o-phile the extended role for his character Benji Dunn is a welcome addition, as he adds a much-needed geeky sense of humour to a film lacking comedy from any other sources.
Paula Patton’s inclusion as Agent Carter, and Hawke’s apparent trust in her, is unexplained which does ruffle my feathers a touch, but she definitely adds an element of eye-candy. Beyond this, however, she represents a stong female character which again is something lacking from previous instalments.
Renner is the most interesting of inclusions however. In the last couple of years, his star has soared to the extent that he spent most of the last twelve months fighting a Swedish terrorist, the CIA (The Bourne Legacy) and even a horde of alien invaders (The Avengers). He has suddenly become Hollywood’s go-to action star, and depending on final numbers and scheduling, could find himself appearing in three major movie franchises going forward.
He turns in a competent performance here, without particularly shining, but one wonders if the guys behind Mission: Impossible see him as the ideal man to take over from Cruise when he decides he is too old to continue?
The action is excellent this time around, with particular mention deserved for the scene of Ethan Hunt trying to climb a sky scraper hotel in Dubai. This was exciting enough watching in my living room, and would love to one day catch a matinée in an IMAX screen to see the scene as it was intended.
My only criticism, and one which is possibly a peculiar one to make, is that there was perhaps too much action. Whilst there was a pretty strong story, it seemed like the film moved along from one action scene to another. From the exploding Kremlin, to the Dubai heist, right up to the finale in Mumbai, there was no sense of escalation, and arguably the most exciting part was mid-way through the film, leaving the last 20 minutes interesting but a slight anti-climax on what had occurred before.
Rumours are afoot that M:I5 will follow soon, which is not surprising considering that Ghost Protocol made B.U.N.D.L.E.S at the theatre and will probably do well on Blu-Ray too. Whilst I am against “cash-grab” sequels, I feel M:I and Cruise have enough legs left in them to turn out at least one or two more good blockbusters.
Overall Ghost Protocol is a decent action film, and a fun couple of hours ride when you want to switch off brain and let your eyes feast on the thrills.
Rating 3.5 out of 5