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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Movie Review: Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Opening in theaters this week and the coming days ahead depending on your country, the fourth and latest installment of the Mission: Impossible movie series has arrived, and arguably tots more action and intensity than the regular movie buff can take. Once again starring the franchise's figurehead and producer Tom Cruise as agent Ethan Hunt, this blockbuster flick comes just as we're about to say goodbye to 2011, and it certainly brings with it a lot of expectations and excitement at its core. Directed by Brad Bird of Disney Pixar's The Incredibles fame, does this new sequel make the impossible possible once again? Find out as I go through the motions in this review. Special thanks again goes to Solar UIP, Paramount Pictures, SM Cinemas, and FlipGeeks for the invites to the advanced screening last December 13 in IMAX!

Movie: Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol 
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton 
Release Date: December 14, 2011 (RP), December 16, 2011 (US) 

*Originally posted by Timzster in his website "Timzster".

Before getting to the review at hand, a brief look back at the M:I films should be in order.

When the Mission: Impossible franchise exploded into the big screen back in 1996 with the Brian De Palma film, I was feeling a bit on edge on how the series would take off from then on out. Being groomed with the series by watching syndicated reruns of the original 1966 and 1988 Television Series, I grew up admiring the team headed by one Jim Phelps (played by the late and great Peter Graves), and I couldn't see any better transition than having the franchise adapted into a live action movie. Enter Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, and everything changed. Phelps (played by Jon Voight this time) was summarily made into a traitor and killed off by the end of the first film, and we were now left with a open book for new adventures and possibilities, with a new protagonist at the helm. Like I said, it was a 50/50 chance that I'd actually follow the film series, and when M:I-2 exploded into theaters back in 2000, Hunt became almost superhuman, thanks to the direction of one John Woo, known for his contributions in the Hong Kong and Hollywood action movie industry with stellar box office hits like Red Cliff and Face Off. Thankfully, Lost TV Series scribe J.J Abrams came along, and viewers were graced with a more grounded sequel, M:I: III, which was Abrams first film as a director. It featured Philip Seymour Hoffman as the primary antagonist, and brought Cruise's character Ethan Hunt back to a more believable level as a secret agent working alongside a team once again. That formula coupled with Abrams' direction brought back my interest in the M:I series, and that brings us to the present, with the release of M:I - Ghost Protocol.

Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol Trailer

As the title implies, Ghost Protocol is a more "shady and black ops" kind of Mission: Impossible adventure, placing Ethan and his team in a more precarious situation. After one of their operatives is killed, Ethan is broken out of a prison in Moscow and begins a new mission to infiltrate the Kremlin and stop the man code named "Cobalt" from destroying evidence related to his existence. Things don't go exactly as planned, and Cobalt manages to erase the files and bomb the Kremlin in the process, leaving Hunt and his team as scapegoats. With the IMF (Impossible Mission Force) blamed and compromised, Hunt and his team are labeled fugitives by the President of the United States, who activates "Ghost Protocol", which disavows the entire IMF organization as a whole. However, the IMF Secretary allows Hunt to escape to clear their names, using whatever resources they have left to stop and capture Cobalt, who plans to jumpstart another nuclear war. With IMF Analyst William Brandt added to his group, Hunt and his team must race against time to avert a crisis and clear the name of IMF.

To start things off, I must commend Brad Bird, J.J. Abrams, and Tom Cruise for bringing one of the best action films to cap off the year, blending the elements of action, comedy, and drama perfectly and utilizing IMAX technology efficiently in the adventure film that certainly demands attention from the trailer alone. As Bird's first foray into live action film territory, the director does surprisingly well for his effort, and despite a few bumps and notable missteps early on the film, he captures the impact and intensity demanded for a spy flick of this nature, so he earns a big thumbs up from me. Also, the cast is top notch and each actor performs exceptionally well for their roles in the movie. Tom Cruise is back in shape and form as Ethan Hunt, and you can't expect anything less from the man who has highlighted four films of the franchise. He's actually a blend between his M:I-2 and M:I: III self in this movie, and I'm actually ok with it here. Sporting a cool looking jacket and his sequences in Dubai were probably some of the best I've seen of the actor as of late, and it's highlighted by the proper use of the IMAX cameras, which rival that of Christopher Nolan's 2008 epic, The Dark Knight.

Simon Pegg returns from the previous movie as Benji Dunn, and pegs (pun intended) his role as Hunt's trustworthy friend and a newly promoted field agent. He's the comedy relief and tech support hand in this film, and I couldn't think of any brilliant way to cast Pegg than in this capacity. He certainly shines and lives up to his potential. Next, Hurt Locker and next year's Avengers star Jeremy Renner has probably found his niche in the action/ adventure department. As Agent William Brandt, the man is just as full of intensity and determination as Tom Cruise's character Ethan Hunt, and hides his own share of secrets and skills as well. While he certainly is a new face that recently popped up and may be unfamiliar to some movie buffs, rest assured that this guy walks the walk and does the talk. He's someone to watch out for, especially with his next flick being a sequel to the Bourne Legacy. As for the leading lady, Paula Patton is pretty good with her acting chops as Agent Jane Carter. Not much chemistry and possibly the weak link in the group, but she carries herself quite well, and she's still a deadly vixen and beauty, especially in the act taking place in India, rowr.

I'm sure anyone who watches Ghost Protocol will be dazzled by the action, spectacular sights, and the tried and true "black ops" spy story that will leave viewers in the edge of their seats. Personally speaking, I'd recommend you seeing this IMAX theaters for the full experience, and witnessing all those death defying stunts and sequences using IMAX cameras is the real deal. As a side note, I'm sure those who see the various product placement items scattered throughout the film, promoting items like Apple, Canon, and BMW will agree they were used quite well in the sequences they are featured in, and again, the jacket that Tom Cruise wears in the poster and in parts of the movie is an eye catcher alright. Bottomline, if you have nothing better to see and want full frontal intense spy action, this is the movie for you. Say farewell to 2011 by adding this to your list, and if you're lucky to catch an IMAX screening, go for it (especially since selected theaters have a certain prologue sequence attached to it!).

Rating - 5/5

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