Sunday, August 2, 2015

Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol Review (Classic Write-Up)

An air of uncertainty hung over the release of Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol. Would audiences really come back to the franchise five-and-a-half years after the third Ethan Hunt adventure sunk to the lowest box office the series had ever seen? Could Brad Bird pull off his first ever live-action film? Could they compete in the Christmas 2011 timeframe against Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows?

The answer to all five questions turned out to be a hearty yes, as Ghost Protocol took everyone by surprise by grossing over $200 million domestically and nearly $700 million worldwide. Box office is no guaranteed indicator of quality (just ask those peskily successful Transformers sequels), but in this case, that incredible box office is just another indicator of how fantastic this fourth Mission: Impossible is. There's a level of inventiveness and zip in this features every scene that gives it an irresistible momentum.

With the IMF disavowed, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his crew, which includes a mysterious agent named Brandt (Jeremy Renner), have to take on a man bent on a potential nuclear Armageddon with no back-up or support. It's a plot that has an elegant simplicity to it that manages to create numerous opportunities for the characters to grow as individuals and allow for some memorable spy antics. Actually, character development and action tend to go hand-in-hand in this movie, which really is the sort of cinematic combo I can't resist.

Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemecs screenplay takes a cue from J.J. Abrams Mission: Impossible III and creates more depth to the character of Ethan Hunt in this go-around, this time lathering his adventure with an air of tragedy, as this mission occurs shortly after the tragic loss of his wife, Julia (Michelle Monaghan). In another film, this particular piece of character development might have gone off the rails into hackneyed territory, but here, it's played flawlessly as a way to further show what Hunt has lost and sacrificed in his work at the IMF as well as a great approach to create dramatic tension between Hunt and Brandt (who had a role to play in Julias demise).

Loss is a recurring thematic element in the characters of this film, with fellow IMF agent Jane (Paula Patton) looking to score some vengeance in response to the death of Trevor Hanaway. Even source of charming comedy Benji (Simon Pegg) grapples with the loss of his previous job as a hacker since he's been promoted to a field agent. The idea of coming to terms with what has been and what will be is a very weighty propsoition, but it's handled with appropriate solemnity that helps create an emotional sense of unity amongst these rogue agents.

It's kind of a wonder that, with all of this heavy material to deal with, that Ghost Protocal is so much damn fun to watch. But like some of the best blockbusters (such as recent classics like Mad Max: Fury Road and Guardians of The Galaxy as well as classics like Star Wars and Jurassic Park) all the character related moments enhance the action sequences rather than distract from them. And man oh man are there are some rip-roaring scenes of spectacle that leave one exhilarated. Watching Ethan Hunt scale the Burj Khalifa alone is enough to get the movie lodged in my memory!

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