Starring: Tom Cruise, Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner
Directed by: Brad Bird
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 2 hours 13 minutes
Our Score: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars
Things are not going well on the other side of the world. In Budapest, a loyal American agent is shot dead during what was supposed to be a routine mission. At the same time, in Moscow, an elaborate prison break is being executed. The subject of the mission: one Ethan Hunt (Cruise). As he reaches the end of his escape route he yells to one of his rescuers, “Light the fuse!” Cue the music.
It’s been five years since the last “Mission.” Since then, Ethan’s team has been re-staffed and they are wary of working with him. Many rumors circulated after the death of Hunt’s wife, among them that he went rogue and killed the people responsible for her death. But now he and his skills are needed. A shadowy figure calling himself COBALT is looking to launch a nuclear weapon. He has managed to obtain the equipment necessary and now just needs the launch codes. He has also managed to frame Hunt and company for bombing the Russian Kremlin. Of course, like the instructions say, the members of the IMF have been disavowed. They are on their own as they try to prevent what will surely become World War III.
Many film fans balked when director Brad Bird was chosen to direct “M:I 4.” They needn’t have worried. With such classic animated films behind him like “The Iron Giant” and “The Incredibles,” Bird has only shifted his skills to now include real live people on screen. He fills the screen with wall to wall action, making sure there isn’t a dull moment to slow down the story. Shot all over the world, cinematographer Robert Elswit, who is the DP of choice for Paul Thomas Anderson and won an Oscar for his work on “There Will Be Blood” takes advantage of the different locales with almost breathtaking beauty. The production managed to secure the approval to film in and, most importantly, outside the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which is the tallest building in the world. Setting their cameras at the very ledge of a 130th floor window, Bird and Elswit gives us a view we would never be able to achieve in our lives.
The cast is just as committed as the director. Cruise is obviously comfortable in Hunt’s shoes and gives a strong performance. He is joined by a trio of actors that make up his new team. Patton, best known for romantic comedies, kicks serious ass as Jane. Simon Pegg, also known for comedies, plays Benji. He’s the gadget guy who can’t wait to go on a mission that requires him to wear a mask. But the surprise here is Renner. After back to back Oscar nominations (for “The Hurt Locker” and “The Town,” you may have him pegged as a serious bad ass. And he is. But he also shows a flair for comedy and completes the team. Good work is also turned in by Tom Wilkinson and Anil Kapoor (the game show host in “Slumdog Millionaire.”
The visual effects are spectacular, including a sand storm that begins in the desert and slowly envelops Dubai. I saw the film in IMAX and this is the perfect film for the format. This is Cruise and company’s greatest mission so far.
“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” is now playing exclusively in IMAX theatres. It opens wide December 21st.”