Movie Review – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

More like Mission Impossible: Waste Protocol. The fourth instalment of the Mission Impossible series is probably the swansong for Tom Cruise as  IMF Agent Ethan Hunt and an attempt at laying down the groundwork for a new protagonist (remember Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ?). It continues in the same vein as a spy caper would and ignoring several plot holes and plain stupid scenes, it still is more-or-less an exciting & watchable movie.

But is it a blockbuster and blow-your-minds-away type of a movie? Not for me.

Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol

MI4 or MI:GP begins with Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) being helped to pull off a Prison Break from a Moscow jail by the IMF team of Benji (Simon Pegg) & Jane (Paula Patton) and then they all join in another should-they-choose-to-accept mission of stealing some files on a global overlord named Cobalt from…hold on…The Kremlin (yeah, how to top Langley & The Vatican? Kremlin, of course). Some supraawsome tech jiggery-pokery later, all hell breaks loose when the Kremlin is bombed, IMF suspected and subsequently disavowed. Joined by IMF’s analyst Brandt (Jeremy Renner), the team then head out to Dubai & hang out at the Burj Khalifa (see what I did there?) before tackling the final dénouement at Mumbai (pah!)

When the first Mission: Impossible movie was watched way back in 1998, it was an action packed and enthralling adventure rollercoaster of a movie where the viewer is compelled not to take their eyes or minds off the movie throughout. John Woo kinda put in unnecessary pigeons and slow motions in MI2 but it still was watchable, more so for the Thandie Newton – Tom Cruise chemistry than the whole Chimera/Bellerophon gobbledygook. JJ Abrams brought in added style & suaveness to MI3, which also saw Hunt lose a protégé and get marries. Plus, it had a really devilish antagonist in Philip Seymour Hoffman as Owen Davian.

Where MI4 lacks a punch is the clear absence of a really rascally villain and a weak attempt at creating a compelling crisis-y situation for the IMF team to tackle. The villain Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist) is a nuclear strategist out to kick-start a new cycle of evolution by destroying the existing civilization. And how? a global nuclear war incited between the USA & Russia? Yawn. Should have just signed up for Terra Nova, maybe! Plot holes and unexplained jumps are abound, though the pace of the movie is such that you don’t think “hang on! how’d they do that” immediately but the question keeps nagging at you nevertheless. Some of the gadgets depicted are also meh, in a way. And I’ll not even start on the sandstorm or the entire Mumbai sequence…

What the movie does accomplish is that it ticks the checkboxes for a racy opening scene, the mandatory choice of mission acceptance, exotic locations, usage of latex masks (only one though) and the one pièce de résistance stunt. Additionally, the movie has added emphasis on teamwork between the four primary characters – something which MI3 had but was better IMO in MI1. A lot of effort also goes behind their character development and how they work for each other not because they have to but because they want to.

Tom Cruise appeared to me as going through the motions and a tad disinterested sometimes. Paula Patton does ok as a revenge-seeking lady but reined in. Jeremy Renner’s William Brandt might yet be the next Ethan Hunt and he does his chances a world of good but he doesn’t look like doing the stunts on his own. Simon Pegg plays his role as the geek-in-the-field with aplomb.

Director Brad Bird has only directed animated movies before & does well in lending the movie the desired scale and flamboyance. He also brings in some funniness into the goings-on in a cheeky self-deprecatory way, poking fun at the spy genre itself. The background score and title theme were not upto scratch, though. The screenwriters also write in cameo appearances for Ving Rhames and Michele Monaghan at the end. And it is no big secret that there *is* a room for sequel.

Most of the people I know who’re raving about the movie had seen the IMAX version and it should lift up the visual experience of the movie a notch but wouldn’t have made it a better movie than it is, right? One-time watch in IMAX and rent the DVD of the first Mission Impossible and re-watch it, I’d say.

Rating:  2/5

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