Cast: Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), Jane Carter (Paula Patton), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), Tom Wilkinson (IMF Secretary)
Director: Brad Bird
Theatrical release: 12/21/2011 DVD Date: 04/17/2012
Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 133 minutes
Note(s): Screenplay written by Josh Appelbaum and Andrι Nemec, based on the television series created by Bruce Geller.
— ♦ —
Review: I'm a big fan of the original Mission: Impossible television series that aired on CBS from 1966 through 1973, owning all the season DVDs. And I've seen and actually own each of the first three films in this series and I'm not particularly fond of any of them. So my expectations for this fourth film were not very high. Well, let me say up front that this is the best of the series by a wide margin.
Tom Cruise reprises his role as IMF agent Ethan Hunt and, to be brutally honest, he's getting a little old for all the action stunts required of him. Oh, he's in magnificent physical shape but he's clearly showing his age. So it's good that the producers of which Cruise is one are bringing in new blood, notably in the form of Jeremy Renner as William Brandt.
The film's premise is a good one and feels like one of the better episodes from the original series, albeit on a much, much, much grander scale. (The 10 minute opening gambit goes on far too long, however, and lends little to the overall storyline.) Hunt and his team are to break into the Kremlin yes, the Kremlin to retrieve nuclear launch codes only to discover, once inside, that someone has used their illegal entry as a diversion, to place the blame on the United States for a bomb that subsequently goes off. The US government invokes Ghost Protocol, the immediate and complete shutdown of the IMF, disavowing all agents and their actions. But Hunt et al. soon discover that the real bomber is Kurt Hendricks, a radical idealist, who has more global plans, to initiate a nuclear war that will destroy most of humanity, allowing the world to start anew. Pursued by the Russians as terrorists and with no support from the US, Hunt devises a plan to take down Hendricks before he can put his plan into place.
There are very few idle moments in the film, and even those are used to advance the plot in one way or another. The action moves from Russia to Dubai to India. There are many spectacular action shots, none of which seem gratuitous in any way which is kind of amazing in and of itself. Often in films like this if there's an easy but boring way to do something and a difficult by exciting way to do something, directors and screenwriters go for the latter. Here, though, a brief but credible explanation is always given as to why the apparently easy way won't work so they have to opt for the hard way. It's a small detail that only takes a few minutes of screen time, but it works wonders making the film all that more enjoyable.
Simon Pegg reprises his role as Benji Dunn from the previous film, and I have to say I honestly don't remember him at all. Joining the three men on the team is newcomer Paula Patton as Jane Carter. Their performances are fine, but this is clearly Tom Cruise's show and he's not about to share the spotlight with anyone else for very long. At the end, Ving Rhames (as Luther Stickell) and Michelle Monaghan (as Julia Meade) make ultra-brief appearances, so although they may appear on the cast list, don't be misled into thinking they have any significant role to play in this film.
I really enjoyed Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol as a smart action film that moves along quickly, keeps the focus on a story that actually makes sense or as much sense as this kind of film can make, and has a cast of actors that seem to really enjoy playing their roles and making this film. Definitely recommended.