Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is one of the most over-the-top, absurdly audacious spectacles to come out in 2011. It is also the most thrilling and exciting by far. The first live action film from director Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) feels like an animated adventure with its seemingly impossible cinematography and mind-blowing stunts. Bird filmed Ghost Protocol using IMAX cameras and embraces the technology almost as well as Christopher Nolan. (It is strongly encouraged to see the film in IMAX. Standard format will not do the movie justice.)
As the film opens, we once again find IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) in a bit of a jam as his team attempts to break him out of a Russian prison. Benji (Simon Pegg) is the “tech guy” who has just recently been released into the field. Jane (Paula Patton) is the unnecessarily sexy female agent who can do just about anything. After he escapes the prison, Hunt and his team are informed that their new mission is to break into the Kremlin (that’s right) and prevent nuclear access codes from being stolen by Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist).
As usually happens in the beginning of Mission: Impossible movies, things go wrong and Hunt finds out that IMF must be disbanded and that he will be considered a terrorist. With a new teammate, Brandt (Jeremy Renner), in tow, Hunt meets up with Benji and Jane. Even though they don’t fully understand Hendricks’ plan, they decide to complete the mission to clear the name of IMF.
Most impressive about Ghost Protocol is Bird’s refusal to let the laws of physics prevent him from capturing the images or action he wants. There are several action sequences in the movie which are as suspenseful as any in recent memory. Of course, much of the movie requires an absurd suspension of disbelief, but isn’t that why we go to the movies, anyway? Bird shows that not only does he know how to make a terrific animated movie, but his eye for filmmaking is perfectly trained for any style in which he decides to work.
Cruise is slightly more intense than he has been in the past three installments of the series, but that can be overlooked because the chemistry among the other actors is so strong. Pegg once again provides the comic relief, but does so brilliantly with a sense of boyish innocence. Patton is by far the biggest bad ass whose ass-kicking ability is unquestioned. Adding real weight to the cast is Renner who can be convincingly serious or comedic depending on what the scene requires. The only drawback is not seeing more of Nyvqist’s villain. Nyqvist, who starred in the Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, makes a very disturbing bad guy, but his scenes are cut far too short.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a reminder of why film is such an important medium. Anything our minds can come up with is capable of being brought to life on the screen. For Bird, he imagined a world where wind doesn’t necessarily have to be a factor when climbing the tallest building on the planet. His world is one where a man can survive a 200 foot drop because a car’s airbag deploys. And you know what? That’s okay. We’re going to enjoy it anyway. If the colloquialism can be forgiven, Ghost Protocol is just plain awesome. There is no other way to describe it.
This film runs 133 minutes and is rated PG-13.