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Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol (PG-13)


12/22/11
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



Tom Cruise and the IMF take on a Russian terrorist bent on starting a nuclear war (because retro ’80s is still in) in Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, a movie that has serious fun with explosions and crazy stunts.

The running down a massive skyscraper that you’ve no doubt seen in trailers, for example. Or the blowing up of part of the Kremlin. How necessary these things are to the plot is debatable but they make for nice kaboom-y fun.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is in a Russian prison when we first spot him again. A small crew of IMF agents — Jane (Paula Patton), who is in charge of badass-ness, and Benji (Simon Pegg), who does tech — break him out so they can get his help on their next mission: stealing incriminating information from the Kremlin before it can be destroyed.

Yes, this is the present day but apparently Russians make a nice opposing force so...

Things go fine at first — all falsified IDs and wigs and a nifty projector screen that can block off a hallway without anybody knowing it’s been blocked off. But when Ethan gets to the cabinets containing the files, he finds the files are empty. And then he hears another voice on his com — one that the Russians can hear as well. Ethan aborts the mission but the Russians are already looking for the interlopers and just as he’s about to get away, a massive explosion is unleashed.

When Ethan wakes up, he’s handcuffed to a hospital bed and Russian police are telling him that he’s going down for the explosion. He escapes the hospital but is later picked up by the Secretary (Tom Wilkinson) who tells him that the president has disavowed the entire IMF and Russia is poised to go to war with the U.S. The only hope for peace is if Ethan — now a fugitive — and his team (also fugitives) can track down the real culprit and convince the Russians that the American government isn’t trying to provoke a war. And this is about all the secretary has time to explain before he’s assassinated. Ethan is on the run again but now he’s joined by IMF analyst Brandt (Jeremy Renner), who helps increase the team’s amount of badass-ness.

The baddie here: Hendricks (Michael Nyquist — the original Mikael Blomkvist in the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series). Hendricks’ goal is to provoke a nuclear war on the thinking that a little total-world-destruction is good for the planet once in a while.

I’m not going to say this is the dumbest motivation ever for a villain but it adds an element of crazy that makes Hendricks a little more cartoony, a little more Bond villain and a little less real-world terrorist. And in Ethan Hunt we have a central character who is less than electrifying. Scrappy little Tom Cruise (who turns 50 next year according to IMDb) is not the world’s most magnetic tough guy. Renner himself makes a more appealing action hero. But the genius of this kick-punch-fest is that it doesn’t really matter. Patton brings the girl power, Pegg is comic relief, Renner is the new guy and Cruise is the face that makes sure the international market will head to the theater (and I’m guessing the movie’s locations — Russia, Dubai, India — are also meant to help with that). They all play their parts with snap and give us just enough human emotion to keep things interesting. The quips don’t get in the way of the action, and the action is all entertaining enough to add something rather than just fill time between plot points.

Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol is not a new kind of action movie, not a daring new approach. But it is high-quality action excitement that pays enough attention to detail to accomplish its core mission of entertaining you for two-plus hours.  B

Rated PG-13 for disturbing images, violence, sexuality/partial nudity and some thematic elements. Directed by Brad Bird and written by Josh Appelbaum & André Nemec, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol is two hours and 12 minutes long and distributed by Paramount Pictures. 






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