MISSION IMPOSSIBLE : GHOST PROTOCOL
Cast: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Anil Kapoor and Michael Nvqvist
Directed by Brad Bird
Genre: action/ franchise
Mission Impossible has always been a franchise that brought something different to the table each time an installment got unleashed. Be it Brian De Palma, John Woo or JJ Abrams, each of the directors brought their own distinctive flavour to the mix and rightly so, everyone liked a particular style over the other.
And this time, to revive the franchise walks in director Brad Bird who moves away from his animation forte and try his hand on his first live action feature. The real question on everyone’s minds is how far the man, behind the brilliant Pixar works like The Incredibles and Ratatouille, would succeed in rising to the challenges of breathing freshness to the Mission Impossible franchise.
Going by Mission Impossible:Ghost Protocol or MI4, you could state Brad Bird has certainly accomplished the mission of creating a wall to wall action fiesta. Intentions are clear from the very onset. Throw in over the top action spectacle and appeal to the widest audience possible. Even if it means setting the film in asian cities like Dubai and Mumbai. The film may lack depth or even a great script for that matter, but Bird makes up for it with gracefully executed action sequences that tends to make you forget the screen time that it is gulping up. So be it the Russian prison escape, the Kremlin breach, the Dubai hotel fiasco or the Mumbai car park finale, Brad Bird manages to prove his mastery at staging each action sequences with aplomb.
Mission Impossible:Ghost Protocol kicks off with a mission that goes wrong. This prompts the Impossible Mission Force or rather the IMF to go on a rescue mission to get their best man, Ethan Hunt, out of the prison where he is currently serving his sentence. With Hunt out, the team takes on the task of breaching the highly secured Kremlin walls in order to retrieve confidential nuclear launch codes. But they are beaten to it by a nuclear scientist Kurt Hendricks, who well is simply suggested to be ‘mad’ and is planning to set some nuclear missiles off.
So now our team has to stop the scientist from bringing about a nuclear doomsday and for this they need to keep trotting around the globe, from Dubai to Mumbai, even though the US Government has labeled them ‘ghost protocol’ that is, the government refuses to acknowledge their existence, nor offer any kind of support. So basically, they are left high and dry to clean up their mess, much like Ethan Hunt hanging down from the world’s tallest tower.
Basically there is not much of a story at play here. The script is merely an excuse to string up one action set piece to another. So it turns to be kind of episodic in nature, irrespective of how enjoyable the action may be.
The flip side over here turns out to be the villain. With no major motive, the villain is a weak character that the writers never really bothered to flesh out. Despite hiring the services of Michael Nvqvist (the brilliant Mikael Blmkvist from the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) , it is a shame that they could not do anything better with the character of Hendricks. Add to that the Mumbai episode, which pales in comparison to the highly superior ones staged earlier. By this act, things get sillier and the final showdown between Hunt and Hendricks is tad too lame. Also the set designers seem to be confused over to whether their story is set in Mumbai or Bangalore by the time they decide to wrap up the movie.
The best moments plays out much beforehand. The opening jail break sequence, set to the music of Dean Martin, is one that is well orchestrated right up to the moment where Hunt asks to ‘light a fuse’, leading up to the theme track and opening credits. Brad really hits the bulls eye with it and you could not have asked for a better opener. This is followed by the brilliantly staged ‘projection’ trick in the Kremlin hallway that is played to humourous effect while keeping the suspense and tension intact. All this is topped by the publicized Burj Khalifa stunt, one that is literally ‘over the top’. Besides the creative yet firm control over the action set pieces, Brad also displays his mastery over the music. Bird does find fabulous support from cinematographer Robert Elswit (Tomorrow Never Dies, Syrianna, There will be Blood) and the marvelous IMAX shots over Budapest and Dubai are exemplary proof of this fact.
MI4 is one that is gadget galore to the extent that it would give a certain Mr. Bond a complex. It does away with its trademark ‘face mask’ routine though, this time around. Also done away with is the Hunt centric focus of the narrative that plagued the earlier installments. Unlike the earlier ones, this one is not about destroying a team, but rather building one. Tom Cruise steps back to deliver a restrained yet accustomed charming turn as agent Ethan Hunt, while the rest of the team still derives enough material to leave a mark. Pegg gets more prominence this time around compared to MI3 and almost steals the show. Patton goes on to prove that she is much more than just eye candy proving her kick-ass worthiness when the situation demands. Jeremy Renner plays a crucial role, linking his story with Hunt’s past but is certainly capable of much more. Nvqvist is wasted while Anil Kapoor gets a few minutes to have some fun as a sleazy Indian businessman. Josh Hollaway from “Lost” makes a fleeting drop of an appearance. Also a few members from the previous installments make their cameos by the time the credit roll.
Surely one is not expecting Oscar worthy performances from any of the actors onboard. Nor is one expecting a high profile political drama to be played out here. Ghost Protocol is a mission – should you choose to accept it- the kind of popcorn blockbuster action flick that goes on to prove that that insane action sequences that keeps throwing logic (and its lead man) into the air, may never really go out of style.
rating: 3.5/ 5