|Review: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Tuesday, 20 December 2011 06:34|
Director: Brad Bird
"Light the fuse," says Ethan Hunt (Cruise) at the end of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol's opening, cueing that iconic Lalo Schifrin theme tune. It's the perfect introduction to Brad Bird's entry in the franchise: it's action-packed, it's over-the-top, and it absolutely knows it.
In any other film, kicking off with a riotous prison escape to the tune of Ain't That A Kick In The Head may seem ridiculous, but Brad Bird's only just getting started. Within a matter of minutes Tom Wilkinson has turned up, all government suit and world-weary accent, and someone has said the immortal line: "We're going to break into the Kremlin".
Some entertaining Russian accents later and a bomb's destroyed half of Moscow, the IMF has been disbanded and Ethan Hunt and his team are branded terrorists. Of course, it's all the work of Michael Nyqvist's evil nuclear arms nut, and so Chief Analyst Brandt (Renner), Agent Carter (Patton) and techno-whizz Benji (Pegg) head to Dubai for a heist within the world's tallest skyscraper. While Tom Cruise climbs up the outside.
This central set piece is an ingenius use of the IMAX format that gives you an extreme feeling of vertigo. And that's just from looking at Paula Patton's gigantic breasts. When Cruise starts clambering over the Burj Khalifa's windows one-handed, things get even more exciting. The scale of the stunt, Michael Giacchino's playful riffs on Schifrin, the superb camerawork - it all combines with Cruise's charismatic presence to make what is arguably the year's best action sequence.
Bringing his knack for visual composition to the fray, The Incredibles director helms the live-action blockbuster like a seasoned pro. But what he and writers André Nemec and Josh Appelbaum achieve on top of the thrills is a sense of humour that has been missing from some of the previous outings. A lot of that is thanks to Simon Pegg, who's clearly having a ball. "Do we get to wear the masks?" he keeps asking eagerly, pleased to be a part of the series' most audacious set-ups yet.
Of course, that's part of the problem. Once you've seen Spider-Cruise jump out of a window 103 storeys above ground, nothing else seems impressive. And that includes a showdown in the middle of a giant, automated car elevator. Even the psychotic Swede Nyqvist fails to make an impression - Phillip Seymour Hoffman's M:I:III baddy left a big hole to fill. Only a brutal girl-on-girl punch-up really hits home.
But Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol just keeps on trying. It tries so hard it goes on for an extra 30 minutes, chucking in a couple of cameos from old friends to pad things out. Fortunately, one of them works, neatly developing Cruise's character while allowing Jeremy Renner's foil lots of room to grow.
In the end, the relentless blockbusting gets a bit much - but for 110 minutes, it turns out that Tom Cruise running is all you need.
Towering skyscrapers. Tom Cruise running. Paula Patton. It outstays its welcome, but for sheer balls-out entertainment, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is up there with the franchise's best.
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