One of the things I admire about the Mission Impossible series is the ability to surprise me with each entry to the franchise. All four films are so vastly different from each other, it would be hard to imagine the filmmakers keeping up this creativity for so long without repeating themselves. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is honestly the best film in the series and dear I say it, the best film of 2011. I can’t remember any film that I have seen this year that had my jaw open for 80% of the film. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, but the filmmakers sure made it believable. Tom Cruise is back as IMF agent Ethan Hunt who at the opening of the film is in a Russian prison. Simon Pegg returns as the lab lechnician turned field agent, Benji Dunn. He is joined by Jane Carter played by Paula Patton on a mission to rescue Ethan from prison. This sequence is the appetizer to the main course meal of awesome set pieces that will follow in the rest of the movie.
The mission that the team decides to accept this time around is to break in to the Kremlin and retrieve some files from the archive. The team is then set up by a the main villain of the film and blows the Kremlin up. The IMF is blamed for the incident and the the U.S. president disavow the entire IMF agency. Hunt and his team are now faced with proving their innocence with no support, save for an analyst played by Jeremy Renner, who may be more than he seems.
Director Bard Bird (The Incredibles, Iron Giant) shows a command of the camera that has been sorely lacking in many filmmakers who have attempted to make an action thriller. The pacing was on point and the action set pieces were some of the best ever committed to film. A perfect example of a jaw dropping scene was Cruise climbing the Burj Khalifa, which is the tallest building in Dubai. The scene was shot entirely with the IMAX camera and it just added to the scale of how high the building was and how dangerous a stunt Cruise was attempting. Many scenes were shot on IMAX and it will be worth it to see it that way. But for those who don’t live close to an IMAX theater or can’t afford to see it there, the story is just as brilliant on any size screen.
The music by Michael Giacchino is one of his best yet, and added so much to the tone of the film. Every character on Ethan’s team felt three dimensional. Simon Pegg had great comedic timing and Jeremy Renner played a character that could keep up with Cruise’s Ethan Hunt. Paula Patton’s character, Jane didn’t feel like a generic love-interest for Ethan to go googly eyes and have to rescue every 30 seconds. Her character actually had an arc that was running along side and almost independently of Ethan’s arc.
My only negative criticism of the entire film is the villain. Out of all the films, this villain is the weakest in terms of personality. Cobalt, played by Michael Nyqvist, is attempting to restart the population of earth by nuking it. You never really get a sense of what drove him to this measure, mainly because you never get a scene with him outside of him making his next move to acquire the launch codes of the nuke. That being said, I think the dynamic of Ethan’s team make up for any lack of characterization of the villain.
Seeing this film made me wish I had a lot of money. The shots of Dubai, Mumbai and even Russia just made me want to visit at least one of those gorgeous locales. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is guaranteed to be the most fun you will have at the movies this year. It is a must see in IMAX, so do whatever you can to find one near you. Mission: Accomplished for Brad Bird and his team for making a spectacular film.