Friday, 30 December 2011

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Director Brad Bird makes a smooth transition from animation to live action with an emphasis on action. Being behind one of my favourite (what can safely be described as) action flicks, The Incredibles I suspected he had what it takes. It’s still impressive considering the huge scale of this the latest instalment in the Mish franchise. It is not as some have described, “a return to form”, since JJ Abrams’ MI:III was a damn good watch. I will say however, where most franchises by this point might feel a bit tired, this feels anything but.

We follow Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his team (Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton and Simon Pegg) on a series of missions that go from bad to worse. Framed for an attack on The Kremlin they go underground and in pursuit of the terrorist that framed them. He is in possession of stolen arms codes giving him the means for nuclear oblivion. The action takes the elite group from Moscow to Dubai to Mumbai with barely a moment to breathe between each dangerous situation. We witness a series of sequences from tense to the gobsmackingly breath-taking. Since it’s on one of the posters it’ll be no spoiler that Cruise hangs off the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world (he really did it, by the way) in a spectacularly vertiginous scene.

It’s apparent that whoever directs a Mission: Impossible is given room to breathe and make the film their own. Messieurs De Palma, Woo, Abrams and now Bird have all made the films in their own way. They may well be mainstream directors but they do each have a unique style. The producers of James Bond could learn from this since they’re recently prone to hiring an interesting director but then stifling any hint of their individuality. Here, Brad Bird demonstrates a three-dimensional understanding of the action set-piece where everything within it happens for a reason. It’s a good-looking film but the style is backed up by substance.

Most of the comic relief is supplied by Blighty’s very own Simon Pegg. Although Benji sounds like a cuddly children’s character he is now a crack member of the team. Unlikely I know, but Pegg’s nerdy field tech is actually rather convincing. Cruise delivers a mature performance balancing just the right amount of intensity and humour. And regarding the physical stuff, there’s no one in the world who can match him. It’s good to see Tom Cruise back doing what he does best – saving the world.

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