Thursday, 12 January 2012

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (Film Review)

If you were to rename this film Mission Impossible: Murphy’s Law not one person would bat an eye. In the film just about everything that can go wrong essentially does go wrong from the technical equipment to the planning – for the characters.

The story for this one is fairly simple, a mission to try and infiltrate the Kremlin and prevent a major international incident results in Ethan Hunt and his new team being framed for an act of terrorism. With the MIF shut down, Russian authorities hunting them and their enemy constantly one step ahead; they have to clear their names and prevent a global disaster.
Half of the team are either desk workers or have only just been granted field duty, they have no backup, every plan created is quickly thwarted in some manner and the equipment they use is increasingly unreliable. So yeah, everything that could go wrong does go wrong, and it makes for an entertaining film.

This Mission Impossible has essentially dropped all pretenses of being a spy film and aside from a couple of acts of espionage it’s all out action. It feels like many of the James Bond films of the Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan eras: while there is subterfuge and a mystery it’s usually used as breather to show off gadgets between car chases. For example, five minutes after learning that he’s been framed, Hunt is able to find out the exact identity of who has framed him. This isn’t a bad thing, it just means that the film is light on plot, relying upon its acting talents and style to carry it. For the most part they do.

For his first time in the director’s chair of a live action film Brad Bird does an exceptional job, setting up shots and making the best of each location he’s given, conveying the feel of each scene very well. He supplies the same fluid, well staged and dynamic action scenes you’d expect to see out of any of his animated films. His cinematography is what turns the action sequences into Mission Impossible’s true highlights.

Similarly, where the plot falls short on brains and characterisation the actors pick up the slack.
Like Stephen Fry in Sherlock Holmes, Simon Pegg ends up essentially playing himself but does it with all the comic timing and charm he’s famous for, though he’s unfortunately regulated to the role of a hacker. This felt irritating, they sidelined someone who has proven himself to be able to pull off an action film character to being the inexperienced computer geek. If there’s one thing that could have made this film more fun it would have been adding Sergeant Nicholas Angel to the gun battles.
Tom Cruise and Jeremy Renner both put in good performances and the while story doesn’t give Paula Patton enough to do, she does her best with what she’s given. No, the worst role in the film is none of its protagonists but is in fact its villain.

Michael Nyqvist suffers the most from the story and ends up fading into the background, giving no impression of personality nor any real chance for him to display his acting chops. The character, Kurt Hendricks, is defined simply as a madman desiring nuclear war to progress his own theories on “what does not kill you makes you stronger”. The most lines are ever given is during a one way speech shown in archive footage and the only line he exchanges with any of the heroes is to implicate MIF in his own bombings. It was a waste of a talented actor and the lack of effort put into writing the villain really hurt the film.

There’s really not much else to say besides that, it ranks alongside The World Is Not Enough in terms of chases, gadgets and settings; and is definitely better than Mission Impossible III. It’s dumb and lacks a good bad guy but has plenty of elements to make up for that, at the end of the day it’s neither something to rant about or rant against.
See it if you want some good action scenes, just don't expect to remember any of it a week later.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and all related characters and media are owned by Paramount Pictures.

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