Sunday, December 18, 2011

Reel To Reel: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Impossible mission? Not in the movies, no.

Going Rate: Worth full price admission
Starring: Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner
Rated: PG-13
Red Flags: Action violence, some mild sexuality and mild language

The fourth installment of the Mission Impossible film series may be the best so far. It's still over the top, but it's executed in a way that doesn't feel over the top. Along the way it finds a sense of dark humor, an okay-are-we-really-going-to-have-to-do-this vibe.

Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is back and still taking more bodily punishment than Wile E. Coyote on a bad day. His support team of the beauty, Jane (Patton) and the brains, Benji (Pegg), are with him busting him out of a Russian Gulag and then infiltrating the Kremlin to recover stolen nuclear secrets -- all in less than 24 hours. Now complain to me once more about all the Christmas shopping you have left to do.

The Impossible Missions Force doesn't always get away clean. This time, they end up fingered for a terrorist bombing at the Kremlin, but it's actually the work of a nuclear madman named Cobalt, who wants to detonate a nuke as part of a scheme to build some sort of new world order. After the Kremlin incident, the President disavows the IMF, which is just a diplomatic way of saying, "You're on your own, kids, until this stuff blows over."

Really, though, like Ethan and company need official permission to do anything. In fact, they pick up Brandt (Renner), a government analyst who fights pretty darn well for a desk jockey. With his skills, Jane's deadly charm and Benji's computer hacking skills, you've got just enough team to save the world.

Ethan still does most of the grunt work, including climbing up the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world's tallest building. If CGI is used in this scene, it's the best digital compositing I've ever seen -- or it's real. If that isn't enough, he also has to outmaneuvering an automated parking garage in India and run down a baddie in a familiar-looking sand storm. I kept waiting for the audience to yell out, "Haboob!"

Ghost Protocol is a summer blockbuster on winter vacation. It doesn't expect us to suspend a lot of disbelief, leading to many moments when you think, "Wow, this is really dangerous." Simon Pegg's character is nice touch to the film, adding some needed lighter moments. I heard one young lady telling her friends on the way out of the auditorium, "This is the best of the four." I think she's right.

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