Monday, January 23, 2012

Why See This...Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol [2011]

      Ghost Protocol being the fourth addition to the Mission Impossible series that started way back in 1996 has an interesting history to it.  The four film series has had four different directors and four very different receptions.  The original Mission Impossible, directed by the movie violence master himself Brian De Palma, was well received as a standard Hollywood action film with spurring star Tom Cruise as its lead.  Audiences liked it for what it was while critics seemed to be in the same boat.  Unfortunately M:I 2 could not follow down the same path.  This time the series fell into the hands of notable Kung Foo director John Woo.  Continuing box office success, many people felt that the movie was too corny and over the top with its action sequences.  Ethan Hunt wasn’t just a highly specialized secret agent but apparently a macho superhero as well. The highly stylized action choreography seemed to be a better fit for a Bruce Lee flick, not Ethan Hunt.  In other words, M:I 2 could not compete with the original.  Likewise, the third Mission Impossible directed by JJ Abrams continued downward but for different reasons.  This third film again tried to fall back on the successes of the first film but could not match it.  Those who were looking for a similar type of action from the second film were thrown off by the sometimes too intense sequences, especially the death of Ethan’s wife.

       From the trend that has happened thus far, one would assume the fate of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol to be dismal, but in fact this is far from the truth.  In most cases, sequels never match the original, especially a fourth, but this is the case here.  One of the oldest tactics is used here and that is learning from your mistakes.  Yes it may not be a pleasant road to glory but it certainly can be effective.  Ghost Protocol if the perfect mix of the previous Mission Impossible movies and achieves greater success because of it.  A new director on board, again, Ethan Hunt also finds himself fit with a new crew.  His mission- stopping the detonation of a nuclear warhead by a Russian extremist leader after an attack on the Kremlin puts the U.S. and Russia at Cold War odds once again.  A standard element of the Mission Impossible series, Ethan’s mission takes viewers all over the world, as we find our team impersonating high ranking officials in Moscow and grappling up the world’s tallest building in Abu Dhabi.
      Setting itself apart from the previous three films, Ghost Protocol understands what it takes to make a great action film and knows how to go about doing so.  On the eve of a nuclear catastrophe, we should assume that something like a nuclear attack on the U.S. will not happen (unless it was in the hands of Quentin Tarantino i.e. Inglorious Basterds) but that’s fine.  Good prevails over evil, but it is how this is achieved where we find the real entertainment. Those who made Ghost Protocol must have known this or I imagine they would not have written in something as dreadful as a nuclear attack into the script.
      Ethan Hunt, as always, is outfitted with all the latest and greatest gadgets that put the iPhone to shame.  But even better, he’s also got himself a new team, who in my opinion really make the film such an enjoyable experience.  Actors Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg and Paula Patton who make up the new team have wonderful chemistry on screen.  Whether it’s during the mission’s downtime or while grappling up the side of the Burj, Pegg’s character in particular always finds time to interject a few wise cracks, allowing the film to appeal for comedic reasons beyond just the action, which mind you is top notch.  But his jokes are not done in excess taking away from the real point of this action film.  In this way, the movie strays away from being they type of action flick solely bent on explosions and car chases for success.
      My only objection to with the movie came initially with the casting of Jeremy Renner who recently received an Oscar nod for his cold blooded bomb diffusing abilities in The Hurt Locker.  In Ghost Protocol he plays a naïve analyst that after a sudden attack is forced to join Hunt’s team while initially not being assigned.  It was difficult for me to take him as this panicky government worker calling to mind his Oscar winning role from years prior.  I was waiting for him to pull out his bomb kit and go to work.  A minor issue indeed, but I will say this problem is accounted for and my perceptions of Renner’s character are compromised.  In the end, I could find no other problem with this terrific fourth film- mission accomplished.  

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