Your mission, if you choose to accept it…
Here’s what I wrote about this film in my theatrical review:
“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is, in a word, awesome. Better than that, it is the first film in Tom Cruise’s TV-to-feature series that I have enjoyed start to finish, beginning to end and for every single moment of its two hour-plus running time. With efforts directed by the likes of Brian DePalma, John Woo and J.J. Abrams this one helmed by The Iron Giant and The Incredibles director Brad Bird is easily the best of the bunch, and to say it left me breathless would be selling the finished product exceedingly short.
Yeah, I’m kind of shocked about that, too. Listen, while I’ve enjoyed facets of all three of the Mission: Impossible adventures, I’ve always been quite upfront about how much their lazy plotting and herky-jerky scripts left me wanting for more. All of them have moments of wonderment and awe, and each feature set pieces that blow your socks off, but none have scripts designed to keep the viewer interested for long periods of time, and for all their strengths each has just as many faults to sadly contemplate at the very same time.
Not Ghost Protocol. Without question the silliest of the series, nonetheless writers Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec keep things remarkably focused and never lose sight of the narrative’s ultimate endgame. They know where they’re taking things, know the path put-upon Impossible Mission Force (IMF) hero Ethan Hunt (Cruise) has to tread, the screenwriters making every step of the journey a borderline incredible one that’s as giddily mesmerizing as it lump-in-throat astonishing.
The basic plot concerns a Russian bad guy named Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist) who manages to implicate Ethan and his team in the bombing of the Kremlin, stealing top secret nuclear launch codes in the process. You see, he’s an old school hardline communist from the old day who believes the only way humanity can be purified is through the fire of atomic Armageddon, and he’s intent on starting a limited war between the U.S. and Russia to prove his point.
When the entire IMF is disavowed by the American government, Ethan, revenge seeking agent Jane Carter (Paula Patton), tech genius Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and government ‘analyst’ William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) discover they’re the only ones capable of stopping this madman’s plot. To do it, they’ll have to work as a team, put interpersonal secrets aside and travel the globe to discover, and hopefully put an end to, Hendricks’ machination, all the way being chased by a dogged Russian agent (Vladimir Mashkov) intent on their capture.
Silly, yes, but also straightforward, free of fat and exceedingly simple, all of which are very good things indeed. Appelbaum and Nemec keep things moving fast and furious, their script a model of restraint that knows how to flesh out its characters and uses action as a way to develop story and not as just residual fodder to pad out the running time. Former writers for J.J. Abrams’ “Alias” (who returns to produce and oversee this fourth installment, not coincidentally), it’s clear these guys have learned some pretty solid lessons as far as spy-vs.-spy action filmmaking is concerned. Whether we’re in Moscow, Dubai or Seattle, focus is always maintained, and for that I give them humongous props because it’s a feat not a single previous Mission: Impossible flick can also proclaim.
But the real star here isn’t Cruise, isn’t Renner, isn’t the sterling supporting cast inhabiting their respective stock character rolls to perfection, it instead director Bird seamlessly making the transition from animation to live action with remarkable aplomb. Filming portions of this epic in mind-blowing IMAX, featuring stunt work the likes no other picture this year can equal, the excitement generated by this sequel comes perilously close to bursting right through the roof of the theatre. This is edge-of-your-seat stuff, Bird orchestrating it all as if he’d been doing this thing for decades. He shows a remarkable acumen for this type of genre filmmaking, mixing old school retro James Bond style with twenty-first century theatrics to produce something that feels exhilarating and fresh. The Mumbai sequence alone is worth the price of an IMAX admission, and to say things don’t stop but only get better from there is about as pleasant a statement as any I’ve made in quite some time.
Who knows if this series will continue, as maybe some of the naysayers are right and Cruise’s days as an IMF action hero are behind him. But my money isn’t just that there will be more Mission: Impossible adventures, but that the still-powerful Hollywood superstar will likely be right out there till fronting them. Ghost Protocol is the best Hollywood produced action film of 21011, and if you’d asked me if I thought the chances of that was unlikely beforehand I wouldn’t have just said that I’d agree with you, but that they were downright impossible.”
Even at home and not in IMAX, I am completely head over heels about Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. The movie is fast, furious and, most of all, fun. I enjoyed it nearly as much sitting on my couch as I did gazing at in wide-eyed splendor back during that first IMAX screening. It’s a total kick in the pants, breathing new life into a series I thought had run its course making me actually eager to see what Cruise and company have up their collective sleeves next.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is presented on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video along with a 1080p 2.40:1 transfer.
This disc features English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 along with French, Portuguese and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and includes optional English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish subtitles.
Please note, not all of the extras here are available on the edition available via Amazon. This review copy is a Best Buy exclusive, and the extras for this three-disc set (Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy) include:
· Mission Accepted -- Heating Up in Dubai (17:36) – The most in-depth featurette, this one looks both at the city itself while also examining the complex difficulties of filming the movie’s signature action sequence at The Burj Khalifa.
· Mission Accepted -- Vancouver Fisticuffs (12:01) – Seattle’s favorite body double Vancouver takes its bow. Seriously, a heck of a lot more of the movie was filmed in the Canadian city than you might think. I was a bit surprised.
· Impossible Missions -- The Sandstorm (3:06) – A brief look at the five-plus minute chase sequence and complexities involved in making it look authentic.
· Impossible Missions -- Props (3:07) – Exactly what it says it is; IMF geeks will be fascinated.
· Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Director Brad Bird (15:02) – Eight of them (deleted and alternate scenes), the alternate opening being the most interesting of the bunch. It’s obvious why the majority were excised making Bird’s rather dry commentary close to superfluous.
BEST BUY EXCLUSIVES
· Mission Accepted – Suiting Up in Prague (17:58) – Getting things started in Prague.
· Impossible Missions – The Russian Prison (11:49) – The opening prison sequence from its origins to how it looks in the finished film.
· Impossible Missions – Shooting in IMAX (3:33) – The complexities of filming in IMAX.
· Impossible Missions – Art Department (2:56) – How to transform Prague into Russia.
· Impossible Missions – A Roll of Film (2:33) – The life of a roll of film.
· Impossible Missions – Life Masks (1:40) – The makeup department shows how to make a plaster life cast of an actor.
· Impossible Missions – Stepping into the Storm (2:02) – The origins of the sand behind the sandstorm.
· Impossible Missions – Dubai Car Crash (8:15) – Extensive look at the central head-on collision that just misses taking out Ethan Hunt.
· Impossible Missions – Lens of the Burj (0:57) – Far too short look at filming on The Burj Khalifa.
· Impossible Missions – Composer (10:42) – Great bit with composer Michael Giacchino that ends with Tom Cruise conducting a certain bit of theme music everyone everywhere knows (and can probably hum by heart).
· Original Theatrical Trailer #1 (2:24)
· Original Theatrical Trailer #2 (2:30)
It’s a decent set of extras, nothing more, and as a fan of the movie I admit to being somewhat disappointed. Seriously, if this is all there is, why is this version of the release a Best Buy exclusive?