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USA 2011
Directed by
Brad Bird
132 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Animated film director Brad Bird who had a hit with Ratatouille in 2007 might seem to be an unlikely choice to helm the fourth instalment in Tom Cruise’s Mission:Impossible franchise but he delivers what is easily the best instalment to date. If the previous editions suffered variously from preposterous plots and excessive stuntwork and special effects, Bird delivers a film with a comprehensible narrative with well-developed characters and stunts which are not only well integrated with it but which are more effective because they are more elegantly staged.

As the title which moves away from simple numerical sequencing suggests, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol stands on it own multiplicitous feet. Yes, aside from Cruise’s character and Laslo Schiffrin’s  theme music there are references visual and verbal to the earlier films with, in particular, Simon Pegg returning from M:i:III in a much beefed up role as the team’s gadget man, Benji, but there is also a sophistication here that the previous and ironically more cartoonish films lacked.

This time the IMF team which include Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, Benji, and new chum, Jane (Paula Patton) break into the Kremlin to steal a nuclear missile launcher before a nutter (Michael Nyqvist) gets to it. They are tricked by him however and when the nutter blows up a goodly portion of the Kremlin they get the blame. Which means that they are disavowed by the US government and must act independently (under a  "ghost protocol")  to catch the madman before he puts his dastardly plan into action.

As ever, the globe-trotting hyper-kinetic action (Cruise loves to show us how sexy he is when he runs) is a fundamental part of the film’s raison d’être but the thing that lifts MI4 well above its predecessors is the elegance with which this is realized.  Yes, the film starts off with a very rough prison break-out but most of the action sequences  - the break-in at the Kremlin, a sting at a lavish Mumbai party, a fight in a hi-tech parking station, and most spectacularly, Ethan’s Spider-man like scaling of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world in Dubai, are staged with consumate stuntwork rather than a lots of pyrotechnics and excessive CGI enhancement.

Also working in our favour is the fact that the script actually gives us credible characters and inter-relates them skillfully.  Cruise gives a convincing performance as the committed secret agent, Patton is both sexy and formidable, Pegg imbues proceeding with a well-judged quotient of comedy and Jeremy Renner joins the team as a man burdened by a sense of guilt (Tom Wilkinson makes a brief appearance as a US Government secretary).

The film's ending sets the scene for a further instalment and, for once, that doesn’t seem like a bad thing.




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