he latest installment of the Mission: Impossible films is a sleek, fast-paced, and thoroughly enjoyable ride. Tom Cruise proves that at 50, he still has what it takes to be an action star. Visibly older but just as toned and fit as in his previous Ethan Hunt turns, he engages in even more over-the-top stunts, and the film takes him on a wild ride in
The Mission: Impossible films have always leaned more on the extravagant side, and this one in particular pulls out all the stops. The plot is wildly improbable, but its extravagance is tightly controlled and it constantly shifts situations and locales to keep the pace moving . It does not attain the gravitas of the latest two Bond films, to which it bears a closer resemblance in tone and style than the previous M:I films, but the actors sell the story well.
Nuclear war on a scale seldom seen in film before looms here, at the hands of an psychologically impaired Swedish scientist. In the film’s fantastic opening sequence, Ethan Hunt’s team breaks him out of a maximum-security Russian prison, as the opening credits appear to the backdrop of a slow-burning bomb fuse. Lost fans will appreciate a highly memorable Josh Hollaway cameo. From there, the team is immediately off to save the world again, and the film sets a firecracker pace. The high budget is put to excellent use as the locales switch from Budapest to Moscow to Dubai and Mumbai.
It is Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt who really sells this film however, projecting a collected, driven intensity that carries off the film’s premise. He has charisma to burn and is finely paired with Jeremy Renner and the stunning Paula Patton, who carries off both sexy seductress and badass agent convincingly. Simon Pegg returns as Benji Dunn and provides welcome comic relief.
The action sequences in the film are fantastic, particularly one vertigo-inducing scene in which Ethan Hunt scales the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai, the world’s tallest building, using only magnetic gloves. Extended car chases and crosscut hand-to-hand fighting are featured, as is a particularly impressive explosion of the Kremlin. A risky, reality-bending deception carried out in the Khalifa hotel and ultimately, a ticking clock ramps up the tension.
If the film has a flaw, it is a lack of emotional involvement. The problem with providing Ethan Hunt with an almost entirely new team is that, while it does serve to jumpstart the series anew, it also deprives the film of any real character dynamics and friendships to balance out the action. It’s not that it feels hollow- good dialogue and well-drawn interactions between the new team members ensure that – but there is no particular emotional story driving this film. A backstory involving Jeremy Renner’s character is briefly compelling but all too quickly wrapped up. While Ghost Protocol nicely mixes quieter moments with explosive action, it doesn’t contain the wonderful emotional notes that some action films, notably Fast Five earlier in 2011, are able to hit.
Nonetheless, it is fast-paced and entertaining, nicely layering action and character dynamics with the urgency of saving the world. The action sequences are breathtaking and sharply-cut and the story constantly ups the stakes and the tension as it continues. A worthy addition to the series, and could very well be the best Mission: Impossible so far.