Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Pixar stalwart Brad Bird makes his live-action feature debut with a franchise that has just had its most underrated installment. JJ Abrams' first film is almost vintage Cameron, and was a much needed kick up the arse for a series that has just had a staggeringly pretentious John Woo-helmed outing. Trying to move the focus back onto the "team" element (despite the apparent passing of the torch to Jeremy Renner), this is still very much "The Tom Cruise Show" - not necessarily a bad thing.
We meet Ethan Hunt again as he's being broken out of a Russian prison by a new IMF ensemble, featuring Paula Patton and Simon Pegg. Their slick double gun-toting hero (Josh Holloway) has just been clipped by a mysterious female assassin. Revenge will have to wait, however, as the team and indeed the whole IMF is being implicated in blowing a giant hole in the middle of Russia and basically ending the world. Cue lots of Tom Cruise hanging out of the side of ridiculously tall buildings, and Jeremy Renner being cagey.
Obviously added to the mix as a vehicle for credibility, Renner's analyst with a secret is probably the most disappointing aspect of this generally sturdy sequel. It's not that the two-time Oscar nominee isn't good, he's just painfully underwritten and part of a plot that never really needed him to begin with. Simon Pegg spends the majority of the film looking at his laptop and doing that "this is a difficult firewall to break" face, but manages a couple of amusing moments - which is why he's there, in fairness. Patton, meanwhile, is almost indescribably sexy and extremely comfortable with the action element, and she should find similar strong female roles on the back of her work here.
Most eyes will fall upon Cruise, though, who once again delivers the goods in terms of spectacle. At fifty years of age he's showing no signs of slowing down, and is admirably front-and-centre for some of the most dangerous stunts. Every installment so far in this series has had a different director, and while Bird is a helmer who knows story and character remarkably well, the story here is both convoluted and overly familiar. He still does great job in terms of action, but the tone is a little more 'heightened reality' and ironically a little cartoonish - which probably helps to give 'Protocol' more of its own identity.
Far superior to the second film, not as good as third but probably on par with the first Mission Impossible, this is a fun if overlong addition to the series.
Story by Mike Sheridan | 15:37 | Saturday 30th June 2012 | DVD review
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