Movie Review: Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol

I am a sucker for spy movies.  Whether it is the Bourne series, the revitalized Bond series or the Mission: Impossible series.  Although I have a love/hate relationship with the latter.  The first one was really good with a lot of double-crossing and excellent action, but the second one was a trainwreck.  From the script to John Woo’s awful directing.  And JJ Abrams third film got the train back on the tracks, with the best villain of them all (complete with some of the most inspired casting in Phillip Seymour Hoffman).  The fourth installment, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol might be the best of the bunch.

Fun and energetic, it moves at a breakneck pace. Brad Bird has made some of the best animated films of all time, but there were questions about him making the jump into live action.  He deftly answers any of those about the transition from animated to live action, and re-establishes Tom Cruise as a leading man.

I am a Tom Cruise apologist.  I don’t care what actors or actresses do in their personal lives.  But apparently the general public does, and he was bringing a lot of baggage around with him the last few years.  Even though Knight and Day was the biggest grosser for Fox that year, it wasn’t on par with other Cruise action films.  I think with Ghost Protocol he’s back.

And with him is Jeremy Renner.  His agent is a perfect counter-point to Cruise’s Ethan Hunt.  He’s stoic, reserved and although highly skilled he’s not a cowboy.  Joining him is Simon Pegg once again.  A lesser or more flamboyant actor could be overbearing in what is obviously the comedic role, but Pegg is rather enjoyable.  The female on this mission is Paula Patton, from Precious. I was a fan of her work in that film and although her performance isn’t as polished here, she is stunning. And almost more importantly, she’s athletic looking. It always bothers me in films when waif’s play badasses – there comes a point when all your technique isn’t worth anything because you don’t have the strength to open a can of pickles.  Patton has a full figure and makes this role believable, as if she can actually carry herself.  She does wind up giving what amounts to the same look the entire film, but at least her face is more than pleasant to look at.

The film isn’t without its flaws.  The villain is somewhat non-existent, as are the reasons for his end-game.  The hackneyed speech that Renner gives after what was a harrowing ten minute action scene fell flat for me and didn’t seem necessary.  If you think about it too hard, things may start to tear at the seams a bit (girl falls out building no one seems to notice, how do they get to dubai, who killed the secretary and why, how easy it is to hack into certain things, etc…).  However, the logic of the plot is sound and drives us forward at an unrelenting pace with some fantastic action set pieces.

This is definitely worthy of your time and money to see on the big screen.

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