Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011) – Let’s get something out of the way: holy shit! Tom Cruise is insane. I mean we already knew he was “I’m going jump up and down on a couch” and “I’m in a cult” insane, but this… If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, I refer you to the article image. It is of Tom Cruise hanging off the side of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the whole god damn world in Dubai. IT IS NOT A FAKE PICTURE. HE REALLY DID THAT SHIT. Obviously due to the whole “we don’t want to kill the star of our movie” factor he had a few more harnesses than you see in the film, but he is really over a mile off the fucking ground SWINGING AROUND and RUNNING DOWN THE SIDE OF THE BUILDING! Whatever you think of the man personally or professionally, you have GOT to admit that’s pretty badass. And also bugfuck insane…

The film begins with an IMF Agent Trevor Hanaway (Josh Holloway) on the run until he gets killed by beautiful assassin Sabine Moreau (Léa Seydoux). That leaves Hanaway’s team without a leader. Simon Pegg returns from Mission: Impossible III as Benji Dunn, now promoted to field agent. Paula Patton is a newcomer as Agent Jane Carter. They rescue series hero Ethan Hunt (Cruise) from a Russian prison then embark on a mission that goes disastrously awry, thanks to the machinations of evil Swedish nuclear fanatic Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist, from 2009’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Soon the Secretary (Tom Wilkinson) is forced to disavow the entire IMF. Along with the secretary’s aide Brandt (Jeremy Renner), the team sets out WITHOUT its ordinarily ample resources to stop Hendricks and prevent all-out nuclear world war.

Mission: Impossible III director J.J. Abrams returns in a producer-only capacity this go-round. The directorial reigns are taken by first-time live-action director and two-time Academy Award winner Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille). The Mission: Impossible film franchise has been heavily director-dependent. Brian DePalma and Abrams did well but John Woo’s style-over-substance approach resulted in Mission: Impossible II being just awful. Bird acquits himself very well. The man could work for a thousand years and I’m convinced his best film will always remain The Incredibles, but he clearly knows what he’s doing live action. He’s made the best film in the series since DePalma’s original (possibly even better). The exciting set pieces (again, HOLY SHIT) and well-choreographed action keeps things lively. The villain is not as compelling as previous villains have been and Nyqvist’s talents are all but wasted in the role, but it’s a small problem. Overall it’s a very entertaining popcorn film that is genuinely riveting.

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