(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, dated 17 December, 2011, retrieved from http://expressbuzz.com/entertainment/reviews/mission-impossible-4/344320.html)
Cast: Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Michael Nyqvist, Anil Kapoor
Director: Brad Bird
Rating: You don’t look for logic in a film from the Mission Impossible franchise; if delirious highs from action sequences are your thing, you get them in Ghost Protocol.
Five years after the last Mission Impossible edition hit theatres, three since that hilarious Scientology video that declared “We are the authorities on getting people off drugs, we are the authorities on the mind, the authorities on conditions” went viral, and two since the hilariouser Superhero Movie spoof said, “This hero, this dragonfly – he’s not the answer; I'm the answer”, Tom Cruise is back as Ethan Hunt. And in a movie that doesn’t need actors so much as action figures, he saves the world yet again.
After an IMF agent gets killed by hired assassin Sabine Moreau (Léa Seydoux), his sexy boss Jane Carter (Paula Patton) decides to trek halfway across the world, and unleash the imprisoned Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise). Their mission – to track down a person of interest code-named Cobalt, whose identity is contained in secret files housed in a very insecure Kremlin.
An explosion later, a newly-disavowed (a.k.a. ghost protocolled) and soon-to-be-headless IMF ends up going to Dubai and India to save the world from nuclear war. Money: No worries, the producer has bundles of greens – enough to make a 2 hour 15 minute movie. Gadgets: They look awesome, but tend to malfunction. Russians: Bad, bad, bad. Hollywood can’t let go of the era where Russians were the Enemy, and Russia and India were joint at the hip and lip. Judgment calls: Umm, the producer stretched this into a 2 hour, 15 minute movie. So...umm...oh-kay.
Having pulled Hunt out of Russia, the Secretary of the IMF solemnly says, “Now, I've been ordered to take you to Washington, where they will hang the Kremlin bombing on you and your team. Unless you were to escape after assaulting Brandt and me. But if any one of your team is caught, they will be branded terrorists, out to incite a global, nuclear war.” Umm...oh-kay.
But, of course, nothing goes according to plan in a film which sticks to the MI formula, and Hunt, Carter, analyst William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and tech guy Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) set off on a globe trot as they chase down Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist).
It’s bad enough that Hendricks wants to destroy the world – whaa, and Cern just found the God particle! – but he actually manages to gather a team that supports him. Far worse, misunderstandings threaten to make the IMF team implode, even as deadly hostile agents close in on them. This serves to give the cast a chance to prove they cannot emote.
However, it all gets sorted out in the time it takes for them to get their hands on the launch codes that will detonate a nuclear device, which is also the time it takes for Ethan to figure out Paula is hot.
Enter India and bis-nessman Brij Nath (Anil Kapoor), a telecommunications moneybags whose toys include defunct Russian military satellites (way to rub in 2G, Hollywood) and fantasies include seducing white women in red – well, green this time, but anyway – and hobbies include random paintings displayed to random sitar music. And enter the moments I was waiting for. You see, the only thing I found fascinating about Slumdog Millionaire was the many different pronunciations Anil Kapoor employed for “millionaire”. Here, too, he churns out several gems, and seems to have taken a leaf out of Freida Pinto’s accent book.
Even so, that’s the least stimulating aspect of Ghost Protocol. In his live action debut, Brad Bird – who directed The Incredibles andRatatouille – makes humans do what he has so far had animators do. The stunt sequences, whether they involve wearing something of a chastity belt and jumping into a ventilating shaft with a vicious contraption at the bottom, or scaling the tallest building in the world, or a fight-unto-death in a hi-tech car park, beg a huge IMAX screen.
Yes, Bird has eschewed 3D for IMAX, so you don’t have to wonder which sweaty nose your glasses last rested on. And the results are spectacular. However big a snob you are, you will have vertigo, and lean forward in your chair during the Burj Khalifa sequence. It leaves you wondering whether Bird’s own dream impossible mission was to start off with a Bond movie. It also leaves you wondering whether Cruise actually did that, and it wasn’t CGI. Then again, do we think he makes the soundest judgement calls? Either way, it’s probably all right for your cranial capacity to be inversely proportional to your facial bone structure. Well, as long as you’ve not got wrinkled flesh sagging all over it.
It’s all right for your acting skills to be inversely proportional to your facial bone structure too, as long as you’ve not got wrinkled flesh sagging all over it. In a film stocked with locker-room talk and predictable wisecracks, and where everyone seems to be trying to do Manga, Simon Pegg’s expressions are particularly delightful.
Other positives: Bird brings that lovely touch of animation into this movie – he shows us the minute within the cavernous.
Other negatives: There’s promise of more to come, as the stage is set for a fifth Cruisey-fix to ward off evil.
My favourite parts of the film were when Bird seemed to raise a middle finger to his predecessors by subverting the cheesy mask trick and the lit fuse thingy.
Verdict: Leave your brains at home, and take your adrenaline along for the ride.