|Look! An actual disguise! Times have changed since 2000.|
The plots of Mission: Impossible movies can be nosebleed-inducing if examined in too much detail, so I'll try to keep this relatively simple. A bad guy, Kurt Hendricks, (the Swedish Millennium Trilogy's hero, Michael Nyqvist) wants to start a nuclear war. That's bad. Worse, he has framed the IMF (Impossible Missions Force) for an international catastrophe, so the entire organization and its agents have been officially disbanded and disavowed. Specifically, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and friends have been framed for said international catastrophe, so they top the international wanted list. Of course, they are the only ones who realize that Hendricks is planning to ruin the world, so they need to stop him. They are all alone, without their usual bag 'o' tricks to help them and without international government support for their actions. But that's why it's called an impossible mission, right?
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol was never designed to be an acting Goliath, but it's not half bad. While it certainly won't net Tom Cruise the Oscar he obviously desires so desperately, I thought he was perfectly fine in this movie. His character is clever and pretty bad-ass, without much angst or annoying principles to get in the way. Simon Pegg returns for a second film, and he once again provides comic relief as the nervous tech guy. I like Pegg, but I wish he would try something a little different in his next big budget movie. I wasn't too impressed by Paula Patton, though; she had a sizable role and had the opportunity to be sexy, conflicted, and awesome, but was missing something --- depth, for starters --- to make her character work.
|I said "awesome," not "a clear homage to M:I I"|
In all fairness, Nyqvist was never meant to be the draw for this film. Mission: Impossible has never been about the villains, so much as it has been about having high stakes and fantastically elaborate stealth and action missions to pull off something even more ludicrously difficult.
|That's what I'm talking about!|
|Even Cruise being chased by sand turns out to be decently cool|
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is the first live-action directorial effort from Brad Bird. He did a pretty good job. The pacing of the film was fantastic, the action sequences were very well done, and the story wasn't too convoluted. Heck, even the scenes that looked stupid in the movie trailer turned out to be pretty cool in the feature film.
|Case in point|
As fun as Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is, it's not quite a complete victory lap. I understand that Ethan Hunt is the main character in the series, but it is getting a little old, watching him do all the ridiculously hard stuff while his team is given fairly remedial tasks. The action in this film maybe nonstop, but I would have liked to have been surprised by a truly awesome action sequence that showcased another character. I was happy to find that this film's plot didn't rely too heavily on the earlier movies, but the mystery behind Ethan Hunt wasn't as fascinating as the script had hoped. All in all, this is a fast and fun action movie, but it is missing that special something --- a fantastic villain, a more charismatic hero, an iconic plot twist, etc. --- to make it truly great. Still, I would argue that this is in a close race for the best entry in the Mission: Impossible series.