Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt, in the best Mission: Impossible film since the first

 

4 stars

 

 

Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg

Director: Brad Bird

 

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

With his producer hat on, Tom Cruise said once he wanted each Mission: Impossible film to have a change of director and always to be strikingly different from the one before.

 

That's a laudable goal to keep a franchise with a healthy heartbeat, but II and III veered perhaps too far from the fizz and fun of the Brian De Palma-directed firstie. With IVthere's a new director - Brad Bird, helming his first live-action feature - but it's back to a road map of the original 1996 movie.

 

Cruise finally seems to have figured out we're not interested in the emotional life of Ethan Hunt, so there's no love interest this time round for the IMF golden boy, and it's a film far less exclusively focused on Cruise. Simon Pegg's been promoted from backroom geek boy to fully-fledged field agent, which means there's no room now for Ving Rhames, bar a oddly pointless cameo. So Hunt is now part of what - at flippin' last - looks to be a permanent IMF team of Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and former agent-turned-analyst William Brandt (Jeremy Renner).

 

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol - The climbing the tower scene

We've probably got the flaky box office returns of Knight & Day and Valkyrie to thank for Cruise not hogging the camera on this one. And though he rightly nabs the film's centrepiece stunt, where he spiders his way round Dubai's Burj Khalifa (The Tallest Building In The World), he delegates the second best setpiece to new boy Renner who gets to echo the first fim's most famous stunt moment as he hovers his way round a Mumbai server room.

 

Mission: Impossible's lust for gadgets and rhapsodic love for urgent photogenic locales occasionally gives Ghost Protocol the feel of a Pierce Brosnan Bond film done well. But while the current Bond series cribs the stylings of Bourne, Ghost Protocol's glossiness gives MI: IVa defiantly old-fashioned vibe, despite the slobbering tech porn. While the surface shimmers, it sometimes feels that the plot has been tailored around stunts and group-play.

 

Michael Nyqvist's crazed Ruskie antagonist, who's intent on triggering a nuclear war, is hardly visible, until a reliable, preposterous, final fight scene with Ethan Hunt in a car factory. Quite what his motivation is, beyond being CRAZY, remains mystifyingly opaque.

 

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol - Tom talks to the gang

Jeremy Renner, who may or may not not be being readied to co-headline the franchise from here on, makes a strong debut, though Simon Pegg appears to be saddled with a heavy "comic relief" gauntlet around his neck and is lumbered with some heavy-footed lines.

 

There's much to adore in M:I - GP, but the the script sometimes feels a trifle undercooked, and the film's second half doesn't sparkle as much as the first. That said, it's reinvigorated a sagging franchise and does a good job at reminding us that why Tom Cruise is an A-lister worth cherishing.

 

Steve O'Brien

 

 

Click down there for the trailer.

 

 

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FACT YOU!

Frasier's Daphne and Marty

John Mahoney, aka Frasier's Marty Crane, was born in Blackpool and raised in Manchester. So he can do a Mancunian accent. Unlike Jane Leeves.

 

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