Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

As much as I enjoyed Matt Damon’s “The Bourne Identity,” the one black mark on the film for me is that it ushered in this era of the prolific use of an unsteady camera in action sequences.  And as well as it worked in that film (and in other subsequent films), like any good thing in Hollywood it’s use has gone from moderate to the obscene (see Michael Bay’s Transformers).   So what is most refreshing about Brad Bird’sMission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” is that he does a nice job of framing the action in a way that portrays the intense violent speed of the proceedings while allowing the viewer to maintain a coherent sense of visual spacing. 

Beyond the great cinematography, this fourth installment in the Mission Impossible series is by far the best.  Bird and company surround Cruise with a solid cast of pieces that fit well together.  Jeremy Renner – one of Hollywood’s up-and-comers and soon to be the lead in The Bourne Legacy – brings some grit to the film while Paula Patton exudes an authentic physicality not previously achieved by her female predecessors.  As for Simon Pegg, his comedic timing and wry delivery adds levity to the often-tense proceedings.

As for Cruise, who seemed like a fish out of water in the debacle that was “Knight and Day,” he seems right at home in the role of Ethan Hunt – to the point that you can forget a lot of the negative press that was heaped on him during his overly publicized split from Paramount back in 2006.  Say what you will about Tom Cruise, but the man is an accomplished action star and in MI4, he is hitting all the right notes.  The fact that he did most of his own stunts in the film (including the scenes at the Burj Khalifa – the world’s highest tower) makes his performance all the more impressive.

One of the nicer aspects of this film is that it remains true to the world established by the other Mission Impossible films.  Too often, a sequel, in the interest of setting up its own plot, tramples on or completely disregards the past – rendering the proceedings of its predecessor inconsequential.   The sense of continuity this creates adds value to the movie and brings a sense of closure to the film. 

I would see this film in IMAX if you really want to enjoy the visual beauty of the cinematography.  For your troubles, you’ll be treated to the first seven minutes of Chris Nolan’s much-anticipated “The Dark Knight Rises.”  This film deserves the big screen treatment.   Here’s hoping it’s not the last we see of Ethan Hunt and the IMF.

Standout Performance: Tom Cruise is back


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