To truly understand why I was so pleasantly surprised with Brad Bird’s latest installment of the Mission Impossible series, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, my feelings about Tom Cruise need to be understood. Tom Cruise is a talented actor, he has proven that in a number of different films such as Interview With a Vampire or Born on the 4th of July but lately his movies have taken a turn for the corny. The cinema world has desperately tried to keep Tom Cruise in the front lines of action cinema when most viewers are realizing that he may have outgrown his action phase. With this fear in mind, I entered the theater with a skeptical mind. I was as surprised as any to leave that same theater quite impressed and with a smile on my face.
The easiest way to look at a movie like Mission Impossible is to strip it down to its most basic elements. The Mission Impossible franchise has spent fifteen years building a series known for three things: complicated plots, elaborate gadgets and breathtaking actions scenes. The series’ latest installment holds to the standards of all three. The plot itself is a twisted knot of double crosses, masked men and assassins. While the knot is twisted, the film’s writers allow it to easily unravel by the film’s end. The plot relies on events from the first three films but only in ways that can be explained during the course of the current film. I saw the film with my mother, who hasn’t seen any of the other films in the series, and she was not confused at all. I myself have not seen the third film and found no issue following the plot of the current installment.
The gadgets, as always, prove to be mind-blowing and wholly entertaining aspects of the film. Masks contour to faces perfectly and small strips change people’s voices while a pair of gloves allows Ethan Hawke (Tom Cruise) to hang thousands of feet in the air by just his hands. The gadgets continue throughout the entire film but fill an odd roll in the plot development. Rather than functioning perfectly and saving the heroes in nick of time, the gadgets in this film malfunction at the worst times possible, thus fueling most of the high intensity action sequences in the film.
The action in the film is all but constant and does not disappoint; staying with the caliber of high intensity action for which the series has become known. While the action keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout, there is one scene in particular that serves as the best scene in not only the film but possibly in the entire series. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team are forced to set up an elaborate operation in the largest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. A series of gadget malfunctions and a lack of technology force Hunt to scale a section of the building from the outside. The building itself is made of a smooth material, yielding no handholds to help with the nearly impossible task. Hunt is left with only one choice, to use a pair of high tech gloves that form a strong seal with whatever the wearer touches. The gloves don’t work as they should and the climb becomes a twenty minute long thrill ride that forces the entire audience to the edge of their seats.
While this film is not going to be a frontrunner in the race for the Oscars or Golden Globes, it is at the top of the list of best action films of 2011. Simon Pegg returns as Benjin Dunn, the comic relief of the film. He expertly fills each scene with his quick wit, delivering his lines with practiced timing and painting the film with dry humor. Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton join the team in this film. Renner plays a subdued analyst with a secret, displaying an oddly amusing banter with Pegg, a humor Renner has never before displayed. Patton plays the part of the beautiful yet deadly secret agent with a temper and a strong drive for vengeance. If your obsessed with action films, this is a must see in theaters even if it’s just for the Burj scene. For those not as enthralled by action, don’t carve time out of your busy schedule to see it but if time presents itself, it is an enjoyably entertaining movie that could easily fill a rainy afternoon or a free weekend night and is worth the ten buck ticket. The film earns itself a 7 out of 10 for me and the title of most entertaining action film of 2011.