Dec.24 2011

Matt’s Review: ‘Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol’ Has Breathtaking Action, But the Excess is Wearing



How to start this review? The real reason I paid $16.50 to see this film on the true IMAX screen at the Minnesota Zoo was not to watch Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. No offense Tom Cruise. Even before this film started I was completely satisfied, because The Dark Knight Rises prologue left me in awe — I was literally holding my breath I was so enchanted watching the menacing Bane.

Anyway, Tom Cruise’s latest is an amusing action flick, but considering the brilliance of watching Tom Hardy as Bane for about seven minutes, I was let down by the film after that opening. Don’t get me wrong, the action in M:I – Ghost Protocol on the 70 mm (a normal film reel is 35mm) IMAX reel was captivating and worth the money — but this film is over two hours long, and at that length the marathon of action pieces is exhausting.

This fourth installment picks up with Ethan Hunt and the IMF being wrongfully blamed for the bombing of the Kremlin. The President initiates Ghost Protocol which disbands the IMF. Ethan gathers a team of rogue agents to prove the innocence of the IMF and to reveal the true perpetrator of the bombing. The team is made up of Jane (Paula Patton), Brandt (Jeremy Renner), and the returning computer genius/comic relief, Benji (Simon Pegg). The above par chemistry of this team acts as an adhesive, and their newly formed bond hold together the film throughout the bombardment of action.

The film was directed by Brad Bird, who is most well known in the animation world for directing The Iron Giant and Pixar’s The Incredibles. Before M:I – Ghost Protocol, many were skeptical about letting this animation aficionado take charge of a live action series, especially one as well known as Mission: Impossible. Now, there should be no doubt in the film community whether or not this guy is cut to direct big budget live action films. His vision pushes the action to another level. Seeing Ethan Hunt hanging off the side of the world’s tallest building in true IMAX left me gripping my seat to prevent free fall — that scene was by far the most intense in the film. Unfortunately it came halfway through, leaving the rest of the progression feeling unmatched. I also have to take a second to give MAD props to Tom Cruise for really hanging off the side of the skyscraper 130 stories up. The stunts he executed in this sequence will cause any movie fan’s jaw to drop.

Overall, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a fun, fast paced, action heavy piece worth the time of adrenaline junkies. Any movie goer wanting to sit in the theater to vegetate on perfectly staged action pieces should not miss this — I do strongly recommend you view it on the IMAX, because the action on that big of a screen is exhilarating. What made the action tiring is how long, overdrawn and over-dramatized each piece was — factor that into how many action pieces there were, that’s what I call overkill.

Another demerit is the lack of depth or anything compelling except for the story setting up the next action sequence. While this could be on purpose — it’s a fun action flick — by the end I found myself wanting more than just action. The villain is forgettable — especially trying to live up to Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s work on Mission: Impossible 3 — and spends too much time in the shadows, not on the audience’s radar. When the film was reaching a chaotic climax, the action had already worn me out and I just wanted it to be over. While I loved most of the action and respect the fun take on the serious genre — action spy thriller — it’s hard for me to ingest over two hours of a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

What Should You Do? See it on the IMAX for The Dark Knight Rises prologue. Oh yeah, and because the action of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is perfectly presented on a 70 mm screen. If you aren’t an action junkie, or you aren’t willing to shell out the extra dough for IMAX, definitely skip it.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @matthewdeery
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