Film Review – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

The IMF is shut down when it’s implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization’s name.

Going by the example of the Mission: Impossible series, it would seem that a secret agent can only succeed when they go rogue from their agency. This is a tried and true trope of the genre, but it would be nice to see at least one of the four movies in the franchise move away from this setup. In Ethan Hunt’s latest outing, it would seem that the whole agency has been disavowed by the government after a particularly bad screw up at the Kremlin. It is up to Ethan, along with his prerequisite team of Tech Nerd (Simon Pegg), Hot Girl (Paula Patton) and Mysterious Guy (Jeremy Renner) to save the world once again from the bad guys through a series of thrilling chases, death-defying stunts and last-minute luck.

Anybody walking into Ghost Protocol with the expectation of anything other than a simple and fun action movie is in for a big disappointment; the movie knows the strengths of the franchise, and plays to them well while ignoring everything else. The opening title sequence of the movie shows you everything you need to know; along with the standard burning fuse, the audience is treated to a bizarre montage of the film’s highlights, spoiling many of the ‘big reveals’.

Spoiler Alert: A dust storm interferes with the plan.

The centrepiece of any Mission: Impossible movie is the crazy stunts that Ethan pulls, and Ghost Protocol is no different. The centrepiece sequence of Ethan climbing up the outside of the Burj Khalifa building in Dubai is incredibly tense, and compelling enough to keep the audience on the edge of their seats throughout. Even those without a fear of heights will be feeling some vertigo with Brad Bird’s camera continually hammering home the sense of danger as things inevitably start to go wrong.

If anybody was still uncertain about the level of Tom Cruise’s sanity, those questions have now been put to rest. Cruise insisted on doing all of his own stunts, and I’ve heard that there was very little CGI used in any of the Dubai sequences. While this is great dedication to the film, I think that most audiences have been conditioned to believe that these sequences are always CGI and won’t see this one any differently. It’s a pity, because this is a very impressive bit of work.

Don’t look down.

Most of the film feels quick and snappy as we are shunted from one action sequence to the next, but thankfully Brad Bird steers clear of the terrible shaky cam that so badly marred the later Bourne movies. Even when they stretch plausibility to the breaking point, every action sequence in the film feels exciting and fresh, from the opening prison break to a crazy fist fight in an automated high-rise parking garage. The standard array of crazy gadgets is included, but they don’t seem as much of a story crutch as they have been in previous installments. But perhaps the story could have used a few crutches.

Despite the different mediums, Ghost Protocol felt very much like Uncharted 3, and suffered from the same core problems. While the action sequences are great, they seem to be the entire substance of the movie. What little story there is merely propels the audience from one spectacular set piece to the next. I think it would be a good bet that the majority of people who saw Ghost Protocol at the cinema wouldn’t be able to remember any of the character names, or what the bad guy actually wanted to do (apart from a generic ‘destroy the world’ answer).

Who are they? No idea.

While there are small attempts to flesh the characters out and the actors (mostly) turn in a good performance, none of them are even slightly memorable. Great action films find a way to weave the story and character into the action, but Ghost Protocol‘s story and character development scenes pull the movie out of its quick rhythm, feeling like an afterthought that is more of a breather between action scenes than anything important.

Overall, Ghost Protocol was a fun, but forgettable action movie. The story and characters were paper-thin, but this didn’t stop the movie from being enjoyable. If you are a fan of action movies, you’ll probably enjoy the film, but I doubt that you’ll see it more than once (until the inevitable late night re-run).

What I Liked – Great action scenes. Some fun performances.

What I Didn’t Like – Thin story. Predictable. Shallow characters. Dragged a bit at points.

Rating – 3.5 out of 5 (Enjoyable)

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