In-Depth Movie Reviews & High Quality Trailers

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

The Mission: Impossible movie franchise always seems to find a way to outdo itself.  Generally, I believe they’ve become progressively better films with each sequel, which is not the norm.  In the least, they always happen to trump the big action sequences of the previous film.  I absolutely LOVED the third film through and through.  I felt it was great!  Still, now that we’re at a fourth movie, have the filmmakers been able to keep up this strenuous challenge and succeed?  Well, I surely couldn’t make a full judgment until the very end of the film as there are a few reassuring tags there.  I do have some reservations about this film, but that’s not to say it wasn’t entirely enjoyable and entertaining.

A nuclear extremist known as Cobalt (Michael Nyqvist) seeks to obtain launch codes for Russian nuclear missiles.  He intends to ignite a nuclear war to eliminate the weak from humanity to force the next stage of human evolution.  An IMF operation, ran by Agent Jane Carter (Paula Patton), to intercept those codes goes awry when assassin Sabine Moreau (Léa Seydoux) promptly kills an IMF Agent and steals them for Cobalt.  In response to this, the IMF sends Agent Carter and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) to extract Agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) out of a Russian prison so that he can head up the mission to infiltrate the Moscow Kremlin, and locate files which identify Cobalt.  However, everything goes wrong when someone hijacks the team’s communications signal to alert security to their presence, and then, detonates a bomb destroying the Kremlin.  The IMF team is blamed for the bombing as an act of terrorism.  The U.S. President initiates “Ghost Protocol” which disavows the entire IMF, but the IMF Secretary (Tom Wilkinson) gives Hunt an unsanctioned mission to bring down Cobalt along with his team without the aid of back-up.  Incidentally added to Ethan’s team is William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), Mr. Secretary’s Chief Analyst who has some personal secrets he must struggle with, and exceptional skills which attract Ethan to question just who Brandt really is.  Ethan Hunt’s team must learn to work together beyond their personal vendettas and internal conflicts to avert nuclear disaster.

Really, my only major scrutiny with this movie is the untapped potential of Jeremy Renner and his character of Brandt.  Renner plays his role exceptionally well hitting all the beats, both obvious and subtle, and he definitely is leading role material.  He surely handles the action requirements with amazing precision and physical sharpness.  My problem is that Brandt seems like a very interesting character to explore that could’ve been used as a more critical element in the story.  More of the plot could have been hung on him in either an internal or external fashion.  I believe a lot of talk leading up to this film was that Renner would be put into a position where he could possibly take over as the lead if Tom Cruise chose to step down from the franchise.  While that was in the back of my mind, it was Renner and the character or Brandt himself that drive this feeling in me.  There appears to be so much more to develop out of Brandt, and make him a more prominent player in the story.  However, that’s not the agenda here.  We get some general mystery about him, and a few moments for Renner to shine.  Still, at the end of the movie, despite obtaining some absolution, he’s still just another member of the team.  It’s not a situation of the filmmakers leaving you wanting more because they don’t give you enough of him in the forefront to whet your appetite.  It’s unutilized potential of the right actor in the right role.  Renner is very capable and quite impressive with everything he presents in this film.  I just wish he was given a chance to standout more instead of exclusively being part of the supporting cast.  Maybe there’s a chance he’ll reappear in a future sequel, but the IMF team mostly changes with every movie.  Still, I have to hope for a better expectation.

That leads me to a small issue.  Ving Rhames’ Luther Stickell is not part of this team.  However, he does have a brief appearance in the film’s final scene which is a nice coda to the adventure, but his rapport with Cruise is rather missed.  It’s always been a highlight of franchise, but in a way, I understand why he was not part of the team.  Part of the story is about a team that’s untested with one another having to find cohesion when they have no back-up and no resources to smooth out their mission.  Putting Ethan and Luther back together would work against that idea and dynamic.  So, I am glad there’s a story driven purpose to his general absence.  Thankfully, Rhames’ single scene is quite funny, and it’s nice that they threw us that bone.

Beyond all that is pristine cinematic action gold.  Like I said, each film finds a way to outdo the action set pieces of the last one.  It’s not just the size of the building they break into, but the tension and various story elements that surround those sequences which enhance them further.  Early in the film, Ethan has to scale the world’s tallest building in Dubai to break into a computer server room, and the electronic suction gloves start malfunctioning, forcing Ethan to slowly abandon the tech for human ability.  It doesn’t even end there as nothing goes along perfectly, and he has to keep improvising when the time comes for an escape.  Ghost Protocol piles on more and more elements to make the peril higher and the tension tighter.  Plus, what I like about this franchise is that action sequences don’t end where they would in other films.  Here, Ethan Hunt finds a way to keep it going.  An on foot chase sequence gets a sandstorm thrown into the mix, and then, it turns into a car chase in a sandstorm.  Mission: Impossible really lives up to its name by pushing the limits of what is possible by forcing its characters to do the extraordinary.

How the team works these operations is also very inventive.  The team has to do what I call a “double fake-out” when trying to intercept the nuclear launch codes between the assassin and the buyer.  They have to divide and conquer by impersonating both sides.  I won’t spoil anything, but I found it to be a very original idea that further re-enforces that this has never been a lazy franchise.  They don’t go the route of any other action film.  They get smart, and work out far more satisfying scenarios which increase the entertainment value and story quality.  There’s plenty of time for the action pay-off later as a cleverly woven plot is something I will always give great credit for.  The plot is well crafted and nicely paced making the action scenes work for the story twists, and allowing the characters’ personalities to drive the action.

I am indeed a Tom Cruise fan.  Risky Business, Top Gun, The Color of Money, Interview With The Vampire, & Collateral are all highlights that I thoroughly enjoy.  Why people are surprised when a Tom Cruise movie is actually good is beyond me.  He has gotten a lot flack for his personal life craziness, but as a professional, he brings it every time.  He is absolutely one of the best actors of his generation, and he has a very solid professional business sense.  He makes great films year after year, decade after decade.  They are blockbuster hits, and modern cinematic gems.  Plus, you can see he pushes himself to the max with these action scenes by performing many of his own stunts.  He indeed did the scaling of the Burj Khalifa Tower himself entirely.  With that precarious height, I thought it would’ve been a green screen effect like when Batman jumped off that Hong Kong skyscraper in The Dark Knight.  Not at all.  Plus, the man can RUN like I’ve never seen anyone do.  When he is running on screen, you believe he is running for dear life with unwavering determination.  Cruise is clearly in incredible shape, and he doesn’t allow himself to slack off in any aspect.  As Ethan Hunt, he keeps bringing more layers to the character, and maintains an emotional continuity that creates a linking thread between every film.  The screenwriters never forgot to touch upon what Ethan has been through and resolve that for Cruise and the fans.  While this entry doesn’t have the deep personal and emotional motivations for Ethan as the previous sequel, Cruise still leads the film with his usual diverse qualities handling all the dramatic, charming, physically intense, and humorous moments with perfect balance.

Now, I surely want to spotlight Josh Holloway’s amazing sequence at the film’s start.  I would definitely love to see a whole film with that amazing, action capable character.  That’s no knock on Ethan Hunt, but seeing what Josh Holloway he does as Agent Hanaway in such a brief appearance really set an amazing tone for the rest of the film.  It was a very exciting and dynamic way to introduce the character.

In comparison with M:I-3, I can only say that this film lacks a strong antagonist.  Philip Seymour Hoffman was such a blockbuster villain as Owen Davian in the previous installment, and would be a hard act to follow.  This time through, the villain of Hendricks is not given much presence in the story.  It’s more focused on the nuclear threat, and the IMF team trying to absolve themselves of their alleged crimes.  That’s not a bad thing at all, and maybe it’s better to change up that dynamic on occasion.  Still, on the villainous front, Léa Seydoux is quite exceptional as the assassin Sabine Moreau.  She has a dangerous presence, and backs that up well in her fight scenes.  Plus, she has a very cool sexiness to her.  Clearly, she’s physically attractive, but as Moreau, she creates en engaging quality with her coldly confident attitude.  She is a top level professional, and has many subtle things going on that create a fully dimensional character with a definite personality and skill set.

And speaking of good women of action, Paula Patton eventually proves to be very solid.  Her character of Jane Carter starts off as a slightly shaky agent due to the awry events at the film’s start.  However, as the film progresses, she comes more into her own, and reasserts control of her wits and confidence.  First, she shows how action capable she is, but later, is able to mix that field savvy with a very strong sexiness.  I’m not saying that such a character requires a sexy edge, but as a man, I happen to notice these things quite prominently.  Simply put, it is a compliment for Ms. Patton and the character she portrays here.

I also want to give very pleasing praise to Anil Kapoor in his suave and charismatic, yet playfully entertaining role as Indian multimedia mogul Brij Nath.  He works opposite Paula in the scene where her assertive sexiness takes form, and the two play off one another so well.  As Nath, Kapoor really takes a relatively minor character, and makes him really standout.  Such an actor was necessary to keep the audience hooked into this part of the story, and it was done with exceptional success.  Nath was a highly enjoyable character that added some extra flavor of fun late in the film.

Of course, speaking of fun performances, right from start, Simon Pegg brings his rich comedic ability to the movie reprising his role of Benjamin Dunn.  At one point, I was afraid they would exploit it too much, but it eventually settles down into a situation-relevant personality trait which never hijacks the film’s tone.

Generally, I have nothing bad to say about the cinematography, but I also don’t have anything exceptional to say about it.  I always remember some shots from the previous films of large dramatic scope.  Something that allows you to take in the magnitude of a location or beat before a dramatic action sequence.  The locations are very well represented from Moscow to Mumbai with some very nice aerial shots.  Everything is well shot, and the action sequences are very competently staged, shot, and edited together.  There’s just nothing that sticks out with the visuals this time out, but that’s merely a point made in context with the franchise as a whole.  In and of itself, there is nothing at all to criticize about the work of Director of Photography Robert Elswit.  I’ve seen many action movies shot without any artistic integrity or visual competence to say that Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is surely one of the far better shot films of the genre.

The visual effects are excellent.  I was never once taken out of the film.  Every last effect is seamless and realistic with its surroundings.  They entirely serve the story by reflecting the tone and intensity of the moment.  The music does the same.  The classic Mission: Impossible theme is punched in every so often at the right moment, but overall, it services the moment by enhancing it but not overwhelming it.

Frankly, I believe Brad Bird should be highly commended on his live action directorial debut.  I’m sure he had very supportive assistance from Tom Cruise and J.J. Abrams, but at the end of it all, Bird is the one responsible for the final product that we see before us.  Everything he was given was executed greatly, and I don’t feel there’s any fat in this motion picture.  It’s very lean and well paced with smartly conceived and shot action sequences.  This surely doesn’t disappoint as it delivers on the promise and expectations of the franchise.  However, if their intention was to position Jeremy Renner to potentially take the reins of the franchise, I don’t think they succeeded.  The screenplay simply doesn’t give him the opening to rise to an equal level as Cruise’s Ethan Hunt.  Again, absolutely none of this is a failing of Renner himself.  He has every quality needed to take on that role as franchise lead, but the story treated him as too much of a supporting character than one to step forward into the forefront.  Regardless, I do highly recommend Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.  The franchise continues to please by improving upon itself and setting higher standards for each new outing.

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52 responses

  1. Awww, I will miss Ving Rhames. He was always one of my favorites…

    Great, thorough review. I can’t wait to take my family this weekend!

    🙂

    12.19.2011 at 12:00 PM

  2. I Love the movie “Knight and Day” with Tom. My wife and I have watched it over twenty times, and still find new insights to the actual movie and its scenes. The man is awesome.

    12.19.2011 at 12:14 PM

    • Oh, you mean Tom Cruise?
      He is, indeed…still, in the real life, i deeply regret his marrige with mrs. Kidman, ended up badly. They were both meant, for each other, as not-classical or ordinary couple, or perfect couple(physically and psychically);as they are in-separately-today. Merry Christmas to us!!
      Add. note: too bad he was not dark-haired, in ‘Interview with a vampire’: ihe would have been, exactely my type of man!!

      12.20.2011 at 11:21 AM

    • My wife and I enjoyed “Knight and Day” as well. To me it seemed to be a redeeming movie for Tom. Finally, I have forgotten why I disliked him in the past.

      12.20.2011 at 11:50 AM

  3. I can’t wait to see this for myself! By the way, what’s with the popularity of hoods these days?

    12.19.2011 at 12:48 PM

  4. Can I just say, what a perfectly satisfying review. You just can’t find such informative, unbiased reviews as this one, no matter how hard you look. When I began to read this post, I was hoping to gain information about the film’s cohesion to its roots, the story’s technical rhythm, as well as the believability of the characters. And all without a hint of any spoilers.
    You certainly exceeded my expectations. I really can’t say enough how impressed I am with this post.
    I’m also a pretty serious Tom Cruise fan.

    12.19.2011 at 12:52 PM

  5. I didn’t see it and doubt I will. I’m not a fan of the MI movies. But your synopsis is quite good. 🙂

    val
    http:valentinedefrancis.wordpress.com

    12.19.2011 at 1:17 PM

  6. I’m excited about watching this film now, thanks!

    12.19.2011 at 2:58 PM

  7. Great review and awesome blog! Always good to see fellow movie bloggers!

    12.19.2011 at 3:57 PM

  8. Looking forward to it. Cheers for the review!

    12.19.2011 at 3:58 PM

  9. I saw this man… Its really awesome… And hacking that server, Its extraordinary….. A good entertainer…….

    http://hiddentouristspotsengaltheri.blogspot.com/

    12.19.2011 at 4:40 PM

  10. Plus, the world really needs a 5’3″ action hero.

    12.19.2011 at 5:06 PM

  11. saw this just last nite – i have to agree w/ you. motivation of the villain was a bit, meh – but otherwise, this was excellent! not just for a fourth sequel, but as a movie overall. definitely an enjoyable, entertaining movie experience.

    12.19.2011 at 5:09 PM

  12. You’re right. MI’s directors always outdo each other, and new revelations, scenes and conflicts surface which added a different dimensions to the film’s general aura. Well i love MI when it injects a certain mystery in the film.

    You have an excellent analysis of the film.

    12.19.2011 at 5:48 PM

  13. The name alone is fabulous! Thanks for the review. I can’t wait to see this now. 😀

    12.19.2011 at 6:42 PM

  14. I’m totally with you about the whole “Why doesn’t Tom Cruise get more credibility?” sentiment. Couch-jumping aside, the man has been in some amazing films, and has been giving 100% of himself to these roles.

    My wife and I just watched Jerry Maguire again, and look at the way he’s willing to throw himself into the character and do some really unglam things (like when he goes nuts saying “help me, help you!”) for the sake of the movie.

    And he’s not just an actor, but a producer too, pushing projects that otherwise might never see the light of day.

    Dude does not get enough credit for what he gives to the industry.

    12.19.2011 at 7:38 PM

  15. we waiting in indonesia

    12.19.2011 at 8:01 PM

  16. Heard alot of good things about this film, I think I’m going to have to check it out…

    12.19.2011 at 8:26 PM

  17. Great review…looking forward to seeing it next week.

    12.19.2011 at 9:57 PM

  18. i loved this film as well
    but i do agree that Jeremy Renner’s character was a bit hmm say restrained, I guess they dont want any one to overshadow Tom.

    12.19.2011 at 10:37 PM

  19. Sounds like I need to see this, its going to be action pack. 1coffeehouse.wordpress.com

    12.19.2011 at 11:06 PM

  20. This movie is really fantastic ….. Enjoyable …

    12.19.2011 at 11:50 PM

  21. We saw this movie a few nights ago. I enjoyed it for the most part but it seemed a bit forced to me. And I’m liking Tom less and less.. I’ll still see them all at the theatre though. Thanks for the review too.

    12.20.2011 at 1:18 AM

  22. Thanks for the great review. I personally caught the film yesterday, and I agree that the Brandt character should have been fleshed out more.

    12.20.2011 at 1:42 AM

  23. if we are talking about Tom cruise . do not need to say too much!

    12.20.2011 at 2:49 AM

  24. enjoyyyyyy

    12.20.2011 at 4:07 AM

  25. shekharonline

    Renner would be playing the lead in Bourne Legacy.. so its not an issue. Well, but they would have added some more chunk to his role. He seems shadowed by others as his role is too limited.

    12.20.2011 at 4:29 AM

  26. A very well written review.
    Definitely inspired me to watch the movie….

    Will see it soon……..

    http://www.randomflix.wordpress.com

    12.20.2011 at 6:03 AM

  27. Great review, i like this movie and I need to see this

    12.20.2011 at 6:24 AM

  28. it was really great action movie..Planning for one more time with entire family! Great Job Tom

    12.20.2011 at 6:24 AM

  29. I can’t wait until this comes out!!

    12.20.2011 at 6:47 AM

  30. RIndaRindut

    damn!! this is it… cool movie!!!! ><

    12.20.2011 at 6:59 AM

  31. Great review! I watched MI last week, and I agree, it’s the best MI film.

    12.20.2011 at 7:15 AM

  32. I like Tom Cruise, because he love motorcycles!! Are there any in Ghost Protocol?

    Thanks! 🙂

    12.20.2011 at 8:18 AM

  33. chelseashanna

    Can’t wait to watch it! 😀

    12.20.2011 at 9:29 AM

  34. LOVE IT! TOM CRUISE FAN TILL DEATH!

    12.20.2011 at 2:13 PM

  35. As long as there’s nothing about viruses and John Woo is in a secure place on another continent, I’m game.

    12.20.2011 at 3:15 PM

  36. Dear god…

    12.20.2011 at 10:10 PM

  37. Sameer

    great review

    12.20.2011 at 11:37 PM

  38. EllieAnn

    I was on the fence about this one, but I do love a good action so this sounds like a winner!

    12.21.2011 at 1:09 AM

  39. I like it.

    12.21.2011 at 1:55 AM

  40. great movie

    12.21.2011 at 2:53 AM

  41. i will watch this movie this weekend

    12.21.2011 at 3:38 AM

  42. hanif

    I especially like the part where Hunt has to undergo the circumstance quite similar to the first mission impossible – dunhil lighter & covered head by the same long haired guy.

    12.21.2011 at 9:59 PM

  43. Will be proud to see this movie.

    12.22.2011 at 12:55 AM

  44. Watched this in IMAX. Great movie

    12.24.2011 at 2:54 PM

  45. The Enthusiast

    Great review and great blog. I agreed with you in my review http://theenthusiastblog.com/2011/12/17/brand-identity-tom-cruise-and-missionimpossible-ghost-protocol-the-enthusiast-movie-review/

    12.25.2011 at 1:18 PM

  46. Can’t wait to see for myself!

    01.01.2012 at 8:28 PM

  47. I have to agree with you, Jeremy Renner was so underutilized! But otherwise, the movie really packed quite a punch (and this is coming from a person who’s not the biggest Tom Cruise fan hehe).

    01.05.2012 at 7:14 AM

  48. JoshuaEvo

    Excellent review! You hit pretty much all the right points dead-on. I did miss Luther on the team but I think Brandt was a perfectly fine substitute. I also thought the subplot with his character was a good way to drive him along and give his presence some cohesiveness to the rest of the team although I agree that it could have been conveyed to the audience a little better.

    01.06.2012 at 12:54 AM

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