This review was first published as Blu-ray Review: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol by me on BlogCritics.org.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is the fourth and best entry in the popular series that stars Tom Cruise as Impossible Missions Force agent Ethan Hunt. Though Ghost Protocol follows some key events from M:I III, the lack of a Roman numeral on this one cues us that it’s also a reboot of the series. Ghost Protocol takes Mission: Impossible to a whole new level of action and spectacle. Director Brad Bird previously directed the acclaimed animated films Ratatouille and The Incredibles. Ghost Protocol is his live action directorial debut. As pointed out in the special features, Bird has an eye for detail and it truly shows. The film is jam-packed with high quality action sequences that keep the film exciting until the end. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is action at its very finest.
Ethan Hunt finds himself with a new team following a jailbreak scored to Dean Martin’s “Ain’t That a Kick In the Head.” They’re thrown into a desperate mission to stop Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), a mad man attempting to cleanse the world via nuclear war. Hendricks is convinced that only massive and equally-distributed destruction on a global scale will even the score, paving the way for world peace. Nyqvist digs into the role, making Hendricks scarily intelligent without ever devolving into a cartoon character.
Hunt’s team includes one familiar face from M: I III. Simon Pegg returns to the series as computer technician Benji Dunn. Pegg’s role is greatly expanded from the previous movie, which is for the best. Pegg brings an off-beat sense of humor that works well for the film. Paula Patton plays Jane Carter, an agent with vengeance on her mind after the death of her fellow agent boyfriend, Trevor Hanaway (Josh Holloway). Jeremy Renner rounds out the primary cast as Agent William Brandt. Brandt is an analyst who seems to be more skilled than first meets the eye. The team’s mission really ramps up after a terrorist attack in Moscow is blamed on IMF. The U.S. government invokes “Ghost Protocol,” meaning the IMF has been disavowed and the agents are on their own.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol benefits from one exciting set piece after another. There is always something else to anticipate right around the corner. In the special features, we are told that Bird studied Raiders of the Lost Ark, using that 1981 classic as a model for his take on M: I. This approach paid off, as Ghost Protocol goes beyond the standard action genre, bringing a real sense of unpredictable adventure. There’s also a healthy dose of James Bond-esque, international intrigue as the plot takes its characters all over the world. The search for Hendricks leads Hunt and company to Dubai, for one of the most eye-popping, death-defying action sequence ever filmed. Using electronically-adhesive gloves, Hunt must scale several stories of the tallest building in the world. Bird piles on complications to hamper the mission, including Hunt’s gloves experiencing a malfunction. If that weren’t enough, a massive sandstorm is fast approaching.
To the credit of everyone involved, the movie is well-paced and never feels overblown. Besides the action, the screenplay wisely doesn’t make characters mere props. Cruise, Pegg, Renner, and Patton all bring their own individual dynamic to their respective characters. Each character has their own motivations and reasons for what they are doing, which adds a layer of emotional involvement. I’m not saying the movie is deep, but there is more to it than just mindless action. The storyline and events are beyond anything truly realistic, but as presented they are not meant to be. This is the Impossible Mission Force. The missions are supposed to be extraordinary. Overall this movie is the thrill ride it sets out to be.