“Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence and intense action sequences.
Running time: 132 Minutes
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Before he could intercept a courier carrying the activation codes for Russia’s nuclear devices, an American spy (Josh Hollaway) is slain in Budapest, Hungary by a blonde assassin (Lea Seydoux). She was working on behalf of Cobalt (Michael Nyst), a person of interest whose identity can only be determined by infiltrating top secret files located inside the Kremlin.
That dangerous assignment is accepted by the latest crack IMF team assembled by Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) with the usual understanding that the secretary will disavow any knowledge of its existence if they are killed or captured. So, when a detonation by Cobalt destroys the Kremlin during the operation and America ends up accused of the bombing, the President of the United States has no choice but to issue a Ghost Protocol declaring them rogue agents.
This leaves Hunt and company blamed for the attack, and the only way they can clear their names is by tracking down the real culprit and retrieving the codes before he can trigger a weapon of mass destruction. That, in a nutshell, is the premise of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, the fourth and arguably finest installment yet in the international espionage series.
Directed by Brad Bird (Ratatouille), the picture ups the ante in terms of state-of-the-art gadgetry and eye-popping feats on land, sea and in the air. Besides the visual capture of action unfolding against breathtaking backdrops of exotic locales as far afield as Moscow, Dubai and Mumbai, the production has been blessed with a plot compelling enough to hold your attention for its duration.
A mature Tom Cruise is in top form here, displaying a relatively-sophisticated savoir faire in lieu of the easy boyish charm that’s served him so well in the past. His talented supporting cast includes Simon Pegg who offers comic relief, periodically, as his bumbling, new sidekick, Benji Dunn. And joining them for the roller coaster ride are Paula Patton as sultry Agent Jane Carter, and Jeremy Renner as William Brandt, an IMF bureaucrat pressed back into field duty by unusual circumstances.
Michelle Monaghan and Ving Rhames reprise their roles as Hunt’s wife, Julia, and his best friend, Luther, respectively, but only in blink and you missed it cameo appearances. Regardless, nostalgia is not the reason to check out this action flick, which is all about the death-defying stunts designed to have you scratching your head while wondering, “How the heck did they do that?”
A welcome addition to a beloved, film franchise which, like a fine wine, is only improving with age.