Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

Rates: * * * * 1/2

Why Did I Watch It? The Blank Check podcast are doing the MI series.

Cast, crew, etc.

Trailer

‘The President has initiated Ghost Protocol. The entire IMF has been disavowed.’

So you know already, this is VERY SERIOUS.

Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg return, beginning a new chapter in IMF history, where the films start to exist in their own connected universe. This time, they are up against a shadowy former Russian intelligence officer, who wants to trigger a nuclear war to end humanity, and help the world’s ecology (I think: his motivations are thinly sketched). The plot, never important in the MI movies, is really super unimportant in this one (my note on the villain tho: he’s actually pretty good, and menacing).

That the film is as good at it is, is largely due to the virtuoso performance of its director, Brad Bird. The famed animator makes the leap to live action with bold confidence, delivering some of the most amazing action set pieces in film history. TC is up for anything – also beginning a new chapter in his career, where he becomes like one of the Jackass boys – and his director gives him the means to amaze.

The standout section revolves around the world’s tallest building; the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai. It has three parts, each more eye popping than the one before it. Firstly Cruise has to infiltrate a sealed mainframe room via a vertiginous climb up the outside of the building, then there is a complicated double bluff involving two fake meetings, and finally an incredible chase through an enormous sand storm (I did wonder: how on earth did they shoot this?). Is saw this at IMAX when it was in theatres, and my mouth was hanging open.

The film probably peaks at this point, but there are a number of other great moments; the prison break at the start is choreographed like an elaborate dance, and the Kremlin break in is a fun throw back to MI films of earlier times. They have their gadgets and their masks, although some of the tech is a little unreliable (a fun running gag, throughout). The pace never flags.

You can’t examine the logic of the plot too closely, but why would you? Perfect popcorn film making: fun characters, amazing action, great use of some distinctive global locations. My favourite of the series.

Current MI ranking:

  1. Ghost Protocol
  2. Mission Impossible
  3. Fallout
  4. Rogue Nation
  5. III
  6. II

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