I am a sucker for spy movies. Whether it is the Bourne series, the revitalized Bond series or the Mission: Impossible series, and even though 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 train-wreck, from the script to John Woo’s over-the-top directing. And J.J. Abrams’s third film got the train back on the tracks, with the best villain of them all (complete with the inspired casting of 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 the last few years but there were questions about him making the jump into live action. He confronts any doubt we may have had with his transition from animated to live action with gusto and reestablishes Tom Cruise as 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 dragging 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. With Ghost Protocol he’s back.
And along with him is Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker). His agent Brandt is the perfect counter-point to Cruise’s Ethan Hunt. He’s stoic, reserved and although highly skilled, he’s no cowboy. Joining him is Simon Pegg once again. A lesser or more flamboyant actor could be overbearing in what is obviously the comedic-relief role, but Pegg is enjoyable to watch. The female on this mission is Paula Patton, best known from Precious. I was a fan of her work then 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 waifs play badasses – there comes a point when all your technique isn’t worth anything because you don’t have the strength to open a jar of pickles. Patton has a full figure and makes this role believable, as if she can actually carry herself. Her expression doesn’t change much during the entire movie but at least she’s easy on the eyes.
And yet (there’s always an “and yet”) Ghost Protocol isn’t without its flaws. The villain is somewhat inconsequential, as are the motives for his endgame. The hackneyed speech that Renner gives after what was a harrowing ten minute action scene falls flat and seems futile. Think about the film too hard and things may come undone—but if you don’t, Ghost’s unrelenting plot and breakneck-fast action scenes will satisfy your hunger for high-stakes battle–definitely worthy of your time and money to watch it on the big screen.