Friday, December 23, 2011
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol **
Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg
Michael Nyqvist, Vladimir Mashkov, Samuli Edelmann, Léa Seydoux
Anil Kapoor, Josh Holloway, Tom Wilkinson
To say plot is unimportant in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol would be like saying that Tom Cruise isn't trying too hard to prove he still matters. The film pretty much is an altar to why the 49-year old is as relevant as 20somethings who spend entire movies running to-and-from explosions showing their toned pecs and virile grins.
Cruise is back to play Ethan Hunt, in the fourth movie in the Mission: Impossible series -which have always suffered from a lack of homogeneity in terms of artistic vision - this time around he faces a crazy Russian scientist Hendricks (Nyqvist) who has decided to single-handedly start a nuclear holocaust.
Hunt and his team, conformed by tech genius Benji Dunn (Pegg who's here just for comedic relief), kick-ass agent Jane Carter (Patton) and the mysterious William Brandt (Renner), trek all over the world trying to stop Hendricks.
From skyscraper climbing in Dubai, to seducing loony lotharios in India, the film's major concern seems to be just how crazier and over the top can the situations get. At first, watching Cruise jump from Russian hospitals and survive explosions is a bit fun, but in a movie where even the title credits are too much, you have to wonder if they will ever stop and smell the flowers.
The action gets to be so much that the film can't help but end feeling like a live action version of Spy vs. Spy (wait, that already exists, right?) or a parody of an action movie.
When the team figure out they have to hack a server room in Dubai, Brandt reminds them that it's located in "the tallest building in the world", and you can't help but think "of course", before rolling your eyes and sipping on your diet soda.
For all its insanity which is unarguably well choreographed by the brilliant Brad Bird, the film can't help but feel utterly joyless at times. It's easy, and perhaps right, to blame Cruise for this feeling, given that this is his show and he must've been in control of everything that went on in it.
The supporting cast is quite good but more often than not you feel that they are just in it because they want to fit in with the popular kid. Patton for example, shows she has superb action heroine skills, but the story reduces her to being a "woman", meaning an agent with a brilliant future who can't help but fail because she gets her period. Renner similarly gets stuck with a shady character just so he won't be able to steal the movie from Cruise. Even if he's poorly written, the wonderful actor still plays Brandt with a wink.
It's slightly pleasant to see Cruise in top form, trying to atone for his lunacy period by doing what he always did best: entertain. Too bad he is so eager that he decided to employ every single trick in his hat. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol could've been an action landmark, instead it satisfies itself with being distracting.