Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol Review

What is up Internet?

I'd like to start off by saying that (gasp) I've never seen any of the previous MI films.  I don't really have a reason as to why...they all came out in a time where I wasn't very much into films.  That said, I was still incredibly excited for Ghost Protocol following the still-excellent trailer.  I'm a sucker for a great trailer cut to a great song (Eminem's "Won't Back Down" in this instance).  Adding to the excitement was the fact that MI4 is Brad Bird's live-action directorial debut.  All of his previous efforts were incredible animated films: The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille.  There were quite a few points at which I was truly amazed that this was his first live-action effort.  MI4 is one of my favorite films of the year and is a truly incredible experience.

Front and center are the amazing action set-pieces Bird constructs and masterfully captures on screen.  Without getting too spoilery, several sequences set in Dubai, in and around the Burj Khalifa hotel have me getting excited just thinking about them.  Word is that Tom Cruise insisted on doing all of his stunts, including climbing and and running down the Burj.  Its insane.  Very few films have caused as much of a physical reaction in me as MI4 did.  And it happened several times.  The camerawork and cinematography are absolutely gorgeous.  I'm a fan of long takes and this film has some great ones.  There's an amazing shot of a high-end party in Mumbai that seems to never end.

The performances overall were quite good.  I'm a fan of Tom Cruise and he is excellent in MI4.  Simon Pegg adds some well-timed humor to the mix as one of Cruise's new team members.  Jeremy Renner is a great addition and deserves to have more meaty roles (like he had in this film) in the future.  He's definitely one of Hollywood's most underrated actors (despite back-to-back Oscar nominations for The Town and The Hurt Locker).

One of my chief complaints with the film is the choice of the villain.  The team's foil, Hendricks, is played by the great Michael Nyqvist.  He's absolutely incredible in the original Millennium Trilogy and I'm very glad that he's getting roles in bigger-budget domestic films, but its seems that he's already being typecast as an Eastern-European villain.  In this year's awful Abduction he was the chief antagonist and had very little screen time or good dialogue.  The same goes for this film.  He seems like a lesser Bond villain and deserves a meatier role.  His character's motivations were mildly interesting but there just wasn't much for him to do.  By the end he and Cruise's Ethan Hunt are embroiled in a classic spy-film fistfight to the death.  I'm not saying that Nyqvist isn't menacing, but I can't really buy that he could go toe to toe with Hunt.  The same was present in 2008's Quantum of Solace.  There is absolutely no way that Dominic Greene could last in a brawl against Daniel Craig's Bond.

MIGP is by far not a perfect film.  Despite amazing action and set-pieces, the script asks us, the audience, to make several logic jumps and assumptions.  Where did the crew get their disguises for the Kremlin?  How does Ethan just know every extraction location and hidden weapons cache in Moscow?  Despite being disavowed by the American government, how does the crew get around?  Wouldn't their passports be flagged?  Credit cards deactivated?  Jason Bourne had a helluva time getting around Europe throughout his trilogy.  As seen in the trailer, Hunt's crew was being blamed for a bombing of the Kremlin.  If this is true the CIA would stop at nothing to find these people and either terminate them or lock em up in prison.

Despite all of that I had an absolute blast with Ghost Protocol.  I can forgive all these minor grievances because of the amazing spectacle put before my eyes.  After seeing this film I have a very strong feeling that Brad Bird will have an amazing career in Hollywood with non-animated films.  Or he can go back to animation - as long as he makes great films I don't care either way.

A quick note:  I saw MIGP in both digital and film formats, in Imax.  I highly recommend the digital Imax.  At this time the film hasn't yet released in regular theaters so Imax is the only option.  A good portion of the film was shot in Imax and it shows.  The picture clarity is astounding and breathtaking.  Definitely worth the ticket price.

Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol is an insanely good time at the theater.

The Bearded Bullet is out.


  1. "By the end he and Cruise's Ethan Hunt are embroiled in a classic spy-film fistfight to the death.  I'm not saying that Nyqvist isn't menacing, but I can't really buy that he could go toe to toe with Hunt."

    +1 to the above. Great review might get around to read the others lol

  2. Thank you, good sir. Please do! I recommend my Breaking Dawn review if you want a good laugh..

  3. I don't think they really were asking for us to make big assumptions:

    "Where did the crew get their disguises for the Kremlin?"

    This was obviously a mission planned by IMF, why wouldn't they have the disguises ready for Ethan and his team? It clearly showed planning since they were on a short timeframe, and Ethan's disguise was designed to go right over his regular clothes, instead of being a complete uniform.

    "How does Ethan just know every extraction location and hidden weapons cache in Moscow?"

    He doesn't necessarily know every extraction point, but why wouldn't he and his team know the one's near their mission? Also, the secretary told him about the train car.

    "Despite being disavowed by the American government, how does the crew get around? Wouldn't their passports be flagged? Credit cards deactivated?"

    It's their job to be covert and sneak into places they shouldn't be. The only reason the Russians were following them was because Ethan gave them a path to follow.
    They can make face masks (granted, not really used this film), adhesive gloves, and other technological marvels, a passport should be pretty easy to fake. Also, I assumed that the plane they took to India was provided by Bogdan's brother, so he was probably helping them get past security.

  4. The secretary didn't explicitly tell them about the train car. He made mention of a weapons cache he had overlooked. He never told Ethan or Brandt where it was. And he would have no motivation to tell Brandt, considering he was coming back to Washington with the Secretary.

    Yes, the flight to Mumbai was provided by Bodgan's friend, but what about them getting to the Burj? I understand that we are dealing with covert agents, but I would've perhaps liked to have seen a discussion about how they're going to travel or them making new passports. Its safe to assume that they have cash or some means of payment, but again, perhaps a throwaway line of dialogue or anything with reference to that would've been nice.

  5. The secretary told them which cache he "accidentally" overlooked. Again, I would expect the spies to know all, or at the very least nearby, caches or safehouses when they are on a mission.

    Also, to me, that throwaway line would have been pointless. They are spies. They sneak around. Saying they can get around borders is like saying the sky is blue. Also, dude, you just watched Sherlock Holmes before this, and they got through borders without using fake documents, and they aren't spies.

  6. All I'm trying to say is, these were not far-fetched assumptions to me. They seemed quite logical, and why waste time explaining them when you can accomplish other things?

    I won't deny that the movie did make some leaps of logic, though. So the briefcase had a wireless connection to the transmitter for the satellite? I find that a little hard to believe. If we are to assume that once the satellite was reset, the briefcase could connect to the satellite directly through a wireless connection without going through the transmitter station or whatever that was, they wouldn't have needed to bring the station back online.

  7. Action has always been the high point of the Mission Impossible series. But this kind of action: Wow! The new film is essentially a relentless roller-coaster ride that doesn't give you a moment to sit back and keeps the adrenalin pumping to dizzy heights as Tom Cruise gets on his regular mission of saving the world, one more time.