After 3 successful films and a 5 year hiatus Mission: Impossible is back with a brand new director but the same old Tom Cruise. Can the worlds biggest movie-star turn back the clock to breath new life into a tiring formula?
The film sees Ethan Hunt and his elite team of IMF agents off on another impossible mission. This time round they are tasked with tracking down a dangerous terrorist, codename Cobalt, who is intent on stealing Russian nuclear launch codes and inciting thermonuclear war. Sadly for the IMF team they must first break Hunt out of a high-security Russian prison before then breaking into the Kremlin, which as you can imagine is no easy task. Things start to go horribly wrong when the Kremlin is bombed, and with the IMF implicated the President invokes Ghost Protocol disavowing the IMF and branding the entire organisation as terrorists. Stranded far from home with a small arsenal of gadgetry and a new agent who may not be all that he seemed it is up to Ethan and co to track down the real terrorist and save the day once again.
Tom Cruise is back for his fourth outing as Ethan Hunt and it’s abundantly clear that he really loves this character. Cruise has always been a top-notch action star, but with Hunt he has his defining role. This guy is Bond, Bourne and Inspector Gadget all rolled into one. Cruise is the lynchpin of the whole endeavor, he’s the swagger that suspends the disbelief, the guy that makes all the gadgets seem necessary, the man who just invites the audience to sit back and enjoy the ride. As good as Cruise is as the all-American hero Renner is that and more. Here is a guy who’s very demeanor exudes threat and menace, a caged ferocity just waiting… Where Cruise is all showmanship, Renner is more grounded. His reluctant hero is far more credible and his interactions with the other team members in going from suspected to accepted adds a modicum of plausibility. Simon Pegg revels as the comic relief, offering a nice change of pace from the relentless action. With Benji as with Scotty he is a sidekick to the main stars, but he ends up having most of the best lines and being the most memorable. Paula Patton does a fine line as the eye-candy who can hold her own, but this really is a boys own show. A nod too to Michael Nyqvist who, despite being vastly inferior to MI:IIIs big bad Philip Seymour Hoffman, manages to convey a sense of threat and is not afraid of jumping in fist-first when required.
Director Brad Bird’s animation background is immediately apparent in the opening credits and brings an interesting and somewhat unique flavor to the action sequences. The climatic battle in particular is noteworthy for its relation to the animated door sequences in Monsters Inc, and serves to provide the action with extra impetus. The plot, such as it is, serves to ties the action sequences together, and here it does more than what is required. The movie has a delightful old-school Bond feel to it, with one man (ably assisted) with a ton of incredible gadgets on a suicidal mission to stop two superpowers from annihilating the world. The Bourne movies moved Bond away from the gadgets to a more realistic footing but M:I-GP proves that you can have a modern action film and have all the techy stuff too. The visuals are what is most impressive about the fourth M:I. From a gritty but picturesque Moscow, to a sun-baked Dubai, to an exotic Mumbai, the movie almost comes off as a travel show, offering glimpses of far-flung places with stunning environments. Dubai is where most of the groundwork is done, with the worlds tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, providing a diamond of locale for death-defying stunts and sheer desirability. What the original Bond movies understood, and what is dramatically evident here, is that we (and I speak for the male gender here) aspire to the life of the secret agent…it’s meant to be cool.
A star-studded, action-packed, adrenaline-fuelled thrill-ride of a movie…this is the best Mission: Impossible to date. In his first live-action film Brad Bird manages to out-do Brian De Palma, John Woo and JJ Abrams…and that’s no small feat.