Movie: Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

You know it’s been 16 years since the first Mission Impossible movie? That’s pretty terrifying, I remember seeing that at the cinema. Anyhoo, two sequels have been and gone in the meantime, and Tom Cruise has returned for an unexpected fourth helping. Except it didn’t really feel like more of the same. In fact I got a stronger feeling that this was like what the James Bond franchise could well have been, had they not gone for a disappointing ‘darker’ reboot in recent years.

I’ve never been much of a Cruise fan, and while the previous films had been enjoyable, they was firmly in my mind as above-average popcorn movies. I’m not sure how this latest installment fits into the picture though, and while I did enjoy it a lot, it had an unexpected flavour.

Sure, a lot of it was business as usual: impossible missions, a mix of traditional and modern set-pieces (from Cold War kitsch Moscow to dazzling Dubai), and the expectedly ridiculous future-tech. Simon Pegg though? I’m glad to see a Brit do well abroad, but they really need to judge where to put him. His part in Star Trek’s reboot was worrying but turned out great, I’m not so sold on his comic relief role in this. Too much bumbling at stupid times, too many incredulous reactions, how did he make it to the team? His gadgets seem to go wrong at pretty much every turn.

The female lead didn’t have much impact, I don’t know her name still. She seemed to be battling with indigestion a lot of the time, given her clenched-teeth reactions to her missions. Tom and other guy were alright, they seemed to be acting like they were in the usual M.I. movies. Some really naff lines in there though “We all have our secrets… *looks moodily to the side*”. Really??

This all sounds very negative, but all in all it did everything well when it committed to the moment. The eye-popping set-pieces, chases and shocks were done brilliantly, I’d expect nothing less than a surprising but exciting team of Pixar veteran Brad Bird directing, and JJ Abrams behind the scenes. Plenty of thrills and spills, and would have made a brilliant action movie on its own.

It’s the dabbling in comedy I found difficult to grapple with, almost reaching spoof levels at times. I loved the wry humour of pre-boot Bond, but this overshot the mark a little.

I’d certainly recommend seeing it, and it’s rare for a franchise (one assumes) so late in its cycle to hold its course. I might not be waiting excitedly for a fifth entry – after all, the shortest time between sequels has been 4 years – but I’ll happily fork over my futuristic space-money when it finally arrives.

 

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