You know, I really don’t want to dump on the blow-job party that’s being held for MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL. After all, Brad Bird is one of my directors. His animated films are flawless executions of storytelling with complex characters and action scenes that you don’t see a lot of. I am glad Bird is making live action features, I will be first in line to see the next Bird film animated or otherwise but GHOST PROTOCOL isn’t the action masterpiece that every critic seems to be salivating over.
GHOST PROTOCOL is the first M:I sequel that has a direct tie to its predecessor and both films share the same problem; You have no idea what the mission of the villain is outside of the item he’s seeking, you just know he needs item X for some dastardly deed. In GHOST PROTOCOL it’s a nuclear weapon. If a villain needs a nuke, I need to know why, otherwise the action is hollow and I lose interest quick. The previous M:I films have scripts that make about as much sense as gurgling yak piss, GHOST PROTOCOL just joined the club.
There is kind of an unwritten rule in stories about time travel; the less you tell the audience about the mechanics of how it’s done, the easier it is to accept. The opposite is true in this case. Action films work better when you know why no matter how cliché it may be. I just want there to be a point to the chaos. Hell, the third TRANSFORMERS movie had a point.
As for the cast, Cruise’s previous performance as Hunt was his best. There was an urgency to that role which created this fast paced drive in all of his scenes. Fortunately that carries over here, Cruise is now kind of an Ethan Hunt that’s pissed at the world and it’s all kinds of tough. Jeremy Renner, who’s going to be taking over the franchise, is kind of a lighter version of Hunt but I think it’s going to be cool to see where he takes his role. Paula Patton also joins the IMF and she can handle herself in an action scene. Some characters though are just taking up space.
As much as I hate to say it… Simon Pegg doesn’t work here. I was an early fan of SHAUN OF THE DEAD and I have stayed with Pegg since then. In part because he’s a geek like us. Having said that, he’s useless in this movie. He worked in the third because his character was essentially a tool for Ethan Hunt. He was like a walking database that Hunt could access. Here, he’s a comedic sidekick in a film that shouldn’t have a comedic sidekick.
Now, this is the part where I cease shitting on GHOST PROTOCOL, pull up my pants, and pat it on the back while I say “hey, you’re not all that bad.” It does have moments that are cool as fuck. The Burj Kahlifa scene is one of the best staged shots I have seen, there is an OLDBOY style hallway fight that I wish was a little longer, and the end fight in a futuristic parking garage which is awesome even though Tom Cruise is fighting an opponent that he should be able to take out in a single punch. The best action set-piece though in the film is a foot-chase through a town, goes through a sandstorm, and turns into a demolition derby on an empty freeway. Bird knows all about creating action and he works like a veteran of action cinema here.
The problems I have with GHOST PROTOCOL could be solved by a decent script which none of the films have had. Actually, I think M:I3 began shooting without a script. Before the studio fires up the inevitable fifth film in the franchise, take a deep breath and let someone spend some time on a story that takes full advantage of what a M:I film can be. It took the FAST AND FURIOUS franchise four tries before they got it right with the fifth, here’s to the next M:I film firing on all cylinders.
VERDICT: SEE IT… THEN WATCH RONIN (1998)
TO SEE WHAT M:I COULD BE.
SEE YOU ON FORTY DEUCE,
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