Should you agree to accept it.....

The latest in the ‘Mission Impossible’ films has Tom Cruise suspended from the world’s tallest building and audiences suspending their disbelief.

By JONATHAN AMERIKANER
December 23, 2011 16:39
4 minute read.
Clip from the new Mission impossible movie

Ghost protocol 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Mission: Impossible –
Ghost Protocol
Directed by Brad Bird
Running time: 133 minutes.
In English with Hebrew titles

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is this year’s best action blockbuster and the best of the series. We follow the Impossible Mission Force, IMF, led by the venerable Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as they chase a rogue Russian terrorist hell bent on destroying the world. This is an immense, globetrotting adventure that takes us from the rooftops of Budapest and the streets of Mumbai to the dizzying heights of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building located in Dubai.

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Yes, that is Tom Cruise hanging almost a mile above the ground. The fact that Cruise was able to convince the filmmakers, and their insurers, to allow him to dangle by (CGI removed) wires from the world’s tallest building attests to the actor’s commitment to his craft. Cruise is perfect here as he brings equal levels of sincerity and restrained absurdity to the role of super spy Ethan Hunt. His performance is reminiscent of Roger Moore’s tonguein- cheek portrayal of James Bond.

The super spies share an unwavering, and often mystifying, devotion to their missions. Why these men are willing to put their lives on the line time and time again to save humanity is never really explained. Maybe knowing that “if they can’t do it, nobody can” is enough to allow us to suspend our disbelief once again as filmmakers dream up increasingly hair-raising gun battles, extreme chases and super gadgets.


The film revolves around fun, wildly implausible action-packed set pieces. This is not lost on the IMF team, who seem self-aware of their absurd situations. After a very narrow escape, the question comes up “How did that work?” Hunt has the obvious answer. This time he is joined on his mission by the formidable and lovely Jane (Paula Patton), the wise-cracking technology expert Benji (played perfectly by the always funny Simon Pegg) and the bureaucrat turned reluctant spy Brandt (Jeremy Renner). Together they are caught in a cat-and-mouse game against the lunatic Russian terrorist Hendricks, played by Michael Nyqvist. The film’s villain presents a weak point in the movie. Missing from Ghost Protocol is a truly memorable spythriller villain. Nyqvist, of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fame, is unfortunately relegated here to a few requisite scenes. We never learn exactly what drives this madman to commit such atrocities. We know he wants to speed up the end of the world, but we never find out why. In place of the standard villainous monologue, we receive an extra dose of action.

Surprisingly, this is director Brad Bird’s (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles) first live-action feature. The director, known for his animation work, is perfectly suited for this action adventure. After all, what is animation if not action? His Academy Awardwinning 2004 Pixar film The Incredibles should be required viewing for all action fans. Here again, Bird pulls out all the stops to create exciting and believable action sequences. One of the best action sequences in the film takes place in the deserts of Dubai. I won’t spoil the twist on a classic chase sequence. (What is Cruise going to do when he can no longer sprint for minutes at a time?) Bird keeps us well oriented within the frame, even when the story puts up a unique obstacle designed to lose us and the characters. Other filmmakers would have lost our sense of direction, purposely or not. But Bird manages to keep us perfectly attuned to what is happening on screen.

To accomplish this, the director returns to an earlier mode of action filmmaking; using longer takes, wider shots and more clearly delineated spaces. This is in contrast to the more prevalent style of recent action movies – see anything by Michael Bay. These movies rely on a technique recently dubbed “chaos cinema.” It is a style that overwhelmingly employs shaky close-up photography, rapid-fire editing and ear-splitting sound effects. In fact, Ghost Protocol uses the soundtrack to great effect. It doesn’t try to pound us into submission like so many other action films. There are some very quiet moments to contrast the loud action scenes. This includes a funny scene in which the IMF team uses noises to distract a very vigilant guard.

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Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol will likely spawn a few more iterations of this wildly popular franchise. It’s fun, exciting and wickedly self-aware. It’s not playing in 3D, nor does it need to be. This will come as a relief to viewers who may be financially weary over the recent wave of 3D films.

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