If I told you Tom Cruise was sporting older man muscle in Brad Bird’s Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011), would you know what I was talking about? He’s just aging, and it is startling when you’ve not seen an actor in a while, especially shirtless. His aging isn’t just a neither-here-nor-there statement. Jeremy Renner (as William Brandt) is in MI: Ghost Protocol after all, and he is slated to take over the franchise once Ethan Hunt (or Tom Cruise) is ready to retire that particular limelight. Knowing this makes Renner all the more impressive in his already well-acted role in the film: he makes himself understated and the understudy even though it soon becomes obvious how much of a bad ass he can be. And knowing this adds a poignancy to Hunt/Cruise’s role in a film where both are in a race against time.
In this 4th installment of the franchise, the IMF are disavowed after Ethan Hunt and co are set-up to take the fall for the bombing of the Kremlin. Four agents—Hunt, Brandt, Jane Carter (Paula Patton), and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg)–are left with a mission to stop a criminal mastermind (Michael Nyqvist) who is determined to destroy the world—if they choose to accept it.
It has been a while since I’ve seen the first and second films, but I do not remember them trying to be funny. The antics in Ghost Protocol become downright silly. At one point Sean turned to me and said, “I think this is supposed to be comedic.” I reply, “I think we were supposed to have noticed that back when Hunt was on that ledge” minutes ago. Of course, Pegg is funny, but I smile when I see him anyhow so how were we to know? So now you know. Look for a sense of humor in the film.
The chase scenes, the gadgets, the cast: all good. Some of the dramatic moments were -meh-, but the humor, suspense, and action more than makes up for that failing. Jeremy Renner is dependable, Pegg, too, and Paula Patton was fierce. I hope we see more mainstream roles open up for her with this film. She is already signed on for the next installment.
If you are up for a good, slightly silly action film with an aging action star who can still run pretty damn fast and can smile while being deadly serious, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol was amusing and I can easily recommend it.
—————Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol(2011)————–
directed by Brad Bird; written by Josh Appelbaum & André Nemec; based on the tv series created by Bruce Geller; cinematography: Robert Elswit; editing: Paul Hirsch; music: Michael Giacchino; produced by Tom Cruise, J. J. Abrams & Bryan Burk; starring: Tom Cruise (Ethan Hunt), Jeremy Renner (Brandt), Simon Pegg (Benji), Paula Patton (Jane), Michael Nyqvist (Hendricks), & Tom Wilkinson (I.M.F. Secretary).
Running time 133 minutes. Rated PG13 for sequences of intense action and violence.
When Ethan ziplines off a building onto a truck and then rolls hard onto the street, Mr. Bird — while borrowing more than a little from the “Roadrunner” cartoons — also makes you aware of the fragility of the body ricocheting on screen, absorbing every blow for your entertainment. And when Mr. Cruise hangs off the even taller building, what you see isn’t just a man doing a crazy stunt but also one poignantly denying his own mortality.”