‘Mission: Impossible’ enjoyable, but not flawless

Mission: Impossible enjoyable, but not flawless

Ethan Hunt and his team are back again in the fourth installment of the widely-renowned “Mission Impossible” series: “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.” The movie offers some immensely enjoyable action sequences and plenty of gasp-worthy plot twists, but breaks no ground in the “action movie” department.

The same fall-back formula (that has practically been rendered cliche by years of over-use) is once again utilized: a super-duper-you-simply-wouldn’t-BELIEVE-how-bad bad guy has a seemingly foolproof plan to destroy the world, yet seems to posses no real concrete reason as to WHY he wants to do so. In this case, the baddie is the nuke-happy madman “Cobalt” (played by the astonishingly underwhelming Michael Nyqvist), who believes that blowing up a good ninety percent of the world is just what the planet needs for a return to ecological balance… or something. In all honesty, they probably spend five whole minutes summarizing Cobalt’s plot, and I’m pretty sure Nyqvist gets about twenty lines of dialogue in the whole movie. His role is less of an actual part, and more of a metaphor for global annihilation. All the audience is expected to understand is that if this guy succeeds, the Earth is going bye-bye.

The crack team assembled to stop him is led by none other than super-spy himself, Ethan Hunt, played once again by Tom Cruise. Cruise renews the role with enough conviction to make his actions believable, yet for some reason the entire part comes off as shockingly one-dimensional. It is understandable in a way; Ethan Hunt is meant to be the strong-silent type, the ultimate super-spy with more gadgets and martial arts knowledge than the offspring of James Bond and Chuck Norris. The problem is, this aspect of the character overrides every ounce of character development and humanity the role could have. In other words, when Hunt blows up a building or free-jumps out of a sky scraper, you are completely invested. But when he starts having a emotional breakdown or announces a feeling of doubt, you shake your head in derision. You simply can’t believe that Hunt is, or ever WOULD be in trouble, or that he doesn’t know what to do. This in itself compromises the ability to enjoy this movie; all sense of suspense is wiped out by the desire to see who Ethan Hunt is going to punch next.

Cruise’s ensemble plays their part with so much joy and panache that it almost renders Ethan Hunt as a background character; you end up wanting to see the minor characters more than him. Paula Patton is in her element as a butt-kicking female spy whose thirst for revenge is almost as intriguing as her ability to look totally attractive at all times (even when- no, ESPECIALLY when covered in blood). Jeremy Renner’s┬áskeptical analyst with more than a few skeletons in the closet is, by far, a more interesting character than Hunt; the more layers you get to see of his character, the more you want to know.

Simon Pegg, however, is in a class all his own. His newly-promoted tech wizard Benji is a blend of quirky humor and snappy dialogue, which provides the perfectly-timed comic relief of the movie. It is, however, his facial expressions that win the part. Every so often he gets a deliciously surprised look on his face, a mixture of disbelief and complete and utter joy. “Look at me! Look at us!”, his face screams. “We’re jumping into this moving train! WOW! LOOK AT HIM! He just jumped out the window! Can you BELIEVE this is happening?” This almost child-like expression crops up at the most unbelievable moments of the movie, and that is what makes his character so wonderful. By being new on the scene, he is able to represent the audience’s view of the current plan: shocked out of his mind that it’s happening, yet at the same time totally pleased that it actually worked.

Besides Pegg, the actual filming itself is the most enjoyable part. The film was shot partially in IMAX, and the result is an uncanny ability to make ridiculous stunts seem completely real. When Ethan Hunt dives out of a window of a skyscraper and swings around it at top speed, that is what you see. At no point do you say, “There’s the harness,” or “There’s the safety net,” or “That’s a stuntman.” The illusion is never ruined, and as a result, when Ethan starts to fall to his death or starts to lose his grip on the rope, the audience lets out a collective gasp and flinches violently. When the camera makes a sweeping arc around a large drop-off, they practically get vertigo. The IMAX film puts the watcher in the scene- no matter if they’re afraid of heights.

In it’s entirety, “Ghost Protocol” is an enjoyable action movie that contains just enough humor and excitement to keep it from getting bogged down by predictable story lines and unconvincing acting. The ending leaves you with no sense of disappointment- you are not sad it is over. However, the one emotion you do walk away with is impatience for the next sequel, and that in itself is an achievement.

3.5 out of 5 stars.