2011-12-21

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – The Mission Still Delivers The Thrills

by Yo Snyder

It’s not easy to take an action franchise beyond the realm of a
trilogy and keep up the energy, fun and freshness; just look at what
happened with the greatest action figure of all, Indiana Jones. However,
the Mission Impossible franchise has accepted this mission and gone
about accomplishing it in a very unique way. Every installment features a
different director, and that director gave each mission it’s own unique
feel. Brad Bird steps into the directors seat this time around with his
live action debut and puts his own stamp on the franchise with one of
the crispest missions yet. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is improbably good for a fourth installment and has some of the most thrilling action in the series; not bad.

Brad Bird is well-known for films like The Incredibles and The Iron Giant,
but I’m sure some were wondering how an animated film director would
fare with a high-profile action series. Well he does just fine. In fact
his work in animation probably helped him a great deal for doing
something like this. All of the action sequences are extremely well
staged and precisely framed. This is pretty much the exact opposite of
the chaotic Bourne films. As I said, it’s all feels very crisp and
precise. However, just because we can see and track with everything that
happens doesn’t make the proceedings any less intense or exciting. Then
there’s the incredible scenes at the Dubai tower. They’re featured
prominently in the previews, and rightly so. They are thrilling and
unnerving and will leave you wondering how they filmed it and how in the
world anyone was able to convince the powers-that-be that mega-star
Cruise should be the one doing those scenes himself on the side of the
world’s tallest building. 

The weakness of the film, however, is the motivation for all of this exciting action. Ghost Protocol
features the weakest and most forgettable villain in the series. In
fact, much of the time you might forget there is a main bad guy pulling
all the strings as you get caught up with all of the fun. It’s the one
thing that could have pushed this film to the top of the franchise; give
us a really good, menacing villain that does more than just give Ethan
Hunt and his team something to do. It’s kind of odd, really, that the
reason for all the exciting action is the least exciting part of the
film. Some rogue Russians wants to launch a nuclear war head and start a
world war in order to help life get to the next stage of evolution.
It’s not a bad, scenario perse, but it just doesn’t have much of a sense
of urgency to it despite the fact that are characters are so desperate
to stop if. For the audience, we’re no more invested in it than as an
explanation for stuff to happen. 

There is an attempt at the end
of the movie to add some gravitas to the proceedings as one of the
characters reflects on how they’re surrounded by people obliviously
going about their lives without any clue how close they can to certain
disaster. I’m sure God must think that’s strange as well. After all,
humanity was saved from the greatest disaster in all of history. Sin
devestated our world and continues to do so to this day, but Jesus came
as God in the flesh to do something about that. He died on the cross and
rose from the dead to provide us a rescue from sin. He took care of the
problem and offers the solution to us in order that we might escape
destruction. And yet so many go about oblivious to the problem in the
first place, or they choose to willfully ignore, or perhaps most
inexplicable of all, they refuse the help and rescue offered them. It’s
one thing to be unaware that an elite group of super-spies saved your
city from being obliterated, but it’s quite another to know that your
life is in danger of eternal destruction and refuse the help of a loving
savior. 

I suppose there will come a time when Tom Cruise refuses
to accept another mission. It doesn’t appear at all that he needs to do
that in Ghost Protocol, but time does catch up with us all.
Fortunately, Jeremy Renner looks ready and capable of stepping when that
time comes. For now though, Cruise instills the same intensity into
Hunt and convinces us that the world still needs him. My favorite,
however, is the fact that Simon Pegg’s character gets to be more than
just comic relief this time out. He’s a full-fledged agent and a more
rounded, full character; still funny, but more than just a joke this
time.  So a talented cast combined with a talented director has brought
us another enjoyable entry into the Mission Impossible franchise. Should
you choose to accept it, this is one mission you’ll enjoy. 

Score: 5/7