Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol
Starring Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner & Paula Patton
Directed by Brad Bird
PG-13, 133 min.
Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt, the leader of the super-elite Impossible Missions Force team, for the fourth installment of the popular movie franchise built on the spy-jinks 1960s TV series of the same name.
In “Ghost Protocol,” Hunt and his squad of globetrotting, deep-cover espionage agents are once again called into top-secret service, this time to avert a nuclear war. When things go wrong, creating an international incident at the Kremlin that looks like an intentional act of American aggression, it drives the mission completely off the grid under “ghost protocol,” a state of complete disavowal by the United States.
Working without a government safety net makes it a bit more challenging to deploy an arsenal of high-tech, cloak-and-dagger doodads and double-cross the Eastern Euro thugs who want to create a mushroom cloud in the sunny skies over California. And you can forget about getting Uncle Sam to sign that expense report.
It’s often been hard for moviegoers to separate their feelings for Tom Cruise, the actor, from the roles he plays, especially after he jumped up and down like a delirious monkey on Oprah’s couch, ventured far out on the Scientology limb, and found himself fighting to defuse some nasty Hollywood rumors about his love life.
But the guy’s still a formidable movie star, especially for roles like this one that call on his buff physique, his considerable leading-man charisma and his willingness to throw himself whole-heartedly into the toss-and-tumble fray of action scenes.
And, believe me, there are some real action-packed doozies in “Ghost Protocol,” including an absolutely spectacular sequence filmed outside the world’s tallest hotel. Cruise did his own stunts for the scene, in which his character has to scale vertical glass some 2,000 feet above the Persian Gulf, break into a higher floor, then leap back out into the air tethered only by a fire hose.
It’s easily one of the most breathtaking five minutes in any movie of 2011, and it leaves you wondering, slack-jawed: How DID they film that?
This “Mission” has a few new faces, including Jeremy Renner, Josh Holloway and Paula Patton. Simon Pegg returns to provide comic relief as IMF tech nerd Benjie Dunn, who finally earns his stripes as a full member of the team.
But the real stripes should go to director Brad Bird, who makes an outstanding live-action debut after a string of successful, critically acclaimed animated hits, including “The Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille.”
Bird juices and gooses the whole affair with edge and excitement, new energy, just the right seasoning of humor and heartbeat, and a terrific feel for big, bold, audaciously daring sequences that beg for the biggest screen available.
Your mission: See this “Mission” in an IMAX theater if at all possible. It’s a visual treat well worth the extra box-office buckaroos, and your eyes will thank you for the thrill of bobbing around in a cine-magic sea of pure adrenaline.