I really enjoyed Mission Impossible. I was highly disappointed by Mission Impossible 2. I didn’t even bother to see Mission Impossible 3.
Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol?
Yeah, it was actually a lot of fun.
Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his small, ragtag team of spies are framed for blowing up the Kremlin. The president activates GHOST PROTOCOL (caps added for emphasis), shutting down the IMF. It’s up to Ethan and co. to clear their names and catch the real bad guys. Also, save the world. Wouldn’t be a proper action movie without saving the world, after all.
1. First—and I’m sure this question gets asked a lot—but do you ever think a spy receives his assignment and is all like, “You know, I choose not to accept this mission. I choose to go vacation in the Bahamas instead. Or maybe play some golf. Or what about that mission where I get to chill in Venice for a while and pretend to be a tourist? I’ll take that mission, okay? Awesome, cool, thanks. It’s good to have such an understanding boss.”
2. Now, on to actual things. Tom Cruise is getting older, which apparently makes some people wonder if he’s viable as an action movie star or not.
Which seems a little silly to me—I mean, he’s only turning 50 this year. Bruce Willis is 56. Mickey Rourke is 59. Harrison Ford is 69. I think Cruise has some time left before he’s geriatric and feeble.
Well, whether he’s ancient or not, Tom Cruise is fairly enjoyable here. He’s a solid lead for the series, has a few funny lines, and interacts well with everyone else on the screen. You certainly can’t accuse him of taking it easy on the job. Apparently, he did all his own stunts in Dubai, which—crazy. And when he’s running, there’s none of this lightly jogging bullshit. He’s really running hard . . . which is, sometimes, unintentionally hysterical because some people just look funny when they run. There’s this one shot of him sprinting through a sandstorm that just cracked all of us up.
3. Although it’s worth noting that while Tom Cruise is still viable as an action star, Ethan Hunt himself might be getting too old for the series. He misses like, I don’t know, three of his jumps or something. Seriously, he just keeps leaping for things and not quite making the mark. I think he has depth perception problems.
4. It is ridiculous how much of the super spy tech doesn’t work in this film. Pretty much every awesome gadget fails rather spectacularly at an inopportune moment. If James Bond had to deal with this shit, he’d be dead in under a minute.
5. As far as supporting cast goes:
There’s just something very natural about how Simon Pegg does comic relief. Other actors, they sometimes seem like they’re trying too hard to be funny—not that they aren’t funny, exactly, but that they’re just so obvious about it, like, oh, so you’re the guy who makes the jokes, got it. But Simon Pegg seems to be sort of effortlessly hilarious. He has a good chemistry with all the other actors in the film, and he nails all his dialogue. Loved him.
This is the first role I’ve ever seen Paula Patton in, and overall, I thought she did well with it. I could buy her as a kickass agent—I mean, as far as I can buy anyone who looks like that going into spywork instead of, say, being a model or something. She looks good holding a gun, she doesn’t pout, and there’s only one line delivery that made me cringe a tiny bit. Her fight scene with this assassin chick is fairly fun, so . . . yeah. Thumbs up.
There’s been speculation that if Tom Cruise decides to retire from the MI series, the torch will be passed to Jeremy Renner. I would be 100% okay with that. I loved him in this movie. Brandt is kind of kickass and awesome and all that good stuff . . . but he’s not entirely stoic, either, which I thought was absolutely hysterical. There’s this one scene where he’s supposed to basically jump down into a giant, rotating fan, and the special spy suit he’s wearing will keep him from being shredded. Well, with the way that all the gadgetry has been failing thus far, it’s no wonder that Brandt hesitates for a full minute before jumping. He’s all, so, jump now? Like, really? Like . . . right now? Loved it.
If the series does continue with Renner at the helm, I hope that Brandt stays like this: dangerous . . . but not exactly unflappable.
6. There’s a saying: a film is only as good as its villain. Thankfully for Ghost Protocol, that’s not really true at all. I mean, it’s a cool saying, and a strong villain is a huge asset to any movie, but there have been plenty of good films out there with subpar villains, and this is one of them. It’s not a question of acting. There’s just not a lot of time devoted to the bad guys. You get a ten second glimpse at the Big Bad’s particular brand of crazy, and that’s about it. The vast majority of this film is focused on the team.
Now, the movie works because you like the team—they’re funny, and the actors have a good chemistry with one another—but I do wish a little more attention had been paid to the Big Bad. Awesome bad guys are a lot of fun. Besides, an interesting villain can only serve to make the ending more climactic.
7. The action scenes are mostly fantastic. The scene everyone’s been talking about in Dubai is well worth the hype. You really get a good sense about just how tall this damn building is, enough to make any acrophobic lean back in their seat and go, Okay, yeah. Yeah, no thanks. (And supposedly, this scene looks amazing in IMAX. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never seen anything in IMAX in my life. I’d have to go to the city for that, and none of my friends ever want to go to the city just to see a movie. It’s hard to blame them.)
8. I have to say, though, that I kind of hate how the Kremlin looks when it blows up. I feel like I’m never impressed when they blow up buildings in movies anymore. It always looks fake to me, and I always end up disappointed.
9. Like many action and horror movies, this is another one of those films were people survive horrifically awful car accidents with a vague limp that lasts for about three seconds. The bad guy should be dead a good thirty minutes before the movie ends. Instead, he’s out of the wreck and gone in the time it takes Ethan to park the car. And the big fight scene, ha! Admittedly, when one of our heroes does something suicidally stupid to save the world, (s)he has the decency to look like they can never move again for a few minutes there. On the other hand, (s)he should be dead. No question. The airbag only helps so much, people.
10. Finally, some quotes before I get into spoilers.
Brandt: “23 minutes till door knock.”
Ethan: “The countdown isn’t helping.”
Brandt: “I’m just saying.”
Brandt: “The rope isn’t long enough.”
Ethan: “No shit!”
Benji: “Why am I Pluto? It’s not even a planet anymore.”
Brandt: “Well, Uranus is still available.”
Benji: “Ha. It’s funny cause you said anus.”
Ethan: “We’re going into the Kremlin.”
Benji (laughing): I thought you said the Kremlin for a minute there . . . I thought you said the Kremlin for a minute there . . . okay.”
Benji: “Easy way to remember: blue is glue.”
Ethan: “And when it’s red?”
Benji: “I’m telling you, we can get to it from outside.”
Benji: “I’m—I’m on the computer.”
Brandt: “I’m just the helper.”
Benji: “Fine. Fine. There! We’ll just screw the whole thing up . . . on purpose.”
Now, for some Spoilers . . .
The movie begins with the lovely Josh Holloway. Don’t get attached to him.
Josh Holloway plays Trevor Hanaway, an IMF agent who survives jumping off a building only to be killed by a pretty blonde assassin named Sabine. He gets shot something like five times, and yet there is a suspicious lack of blood anywhere near his body, fueling my hope that he’s only pretending to be dead and is, in fact, a secret bad guy. Sadly, this is not the case.
Meanwhile, Ethan Hunt is languishing away in some prison in Moscow. Jane Carter (Patton) and Benji Dunn (Pegg) bust him out, although Ethan doesn’t entirely cooperate with them at first. See, Benji basically engineers a prison riot to distract from Ethan’s escape, only Ethan decides to stroll straight on through the riot so that he can rescue his prison buddy too. Benji’s reaction to this is hilarious. Did I mention I love Simon Pegg?
. . . although, I do feel the need to point out that Benji is totally responsible for getting this guard dead. Well, they don’t technically show the guard get killed, but . . . seriously, he’s totally pushing up the daisies. See, Benji releases the electronic lock on some random prisoner’s cell. A guard comes in to investigate. Benji then releases the electronic lock on another random prisoner’s cell. The two prisoners, now encircling this guard, proceed to beat the living shit out of him. And, sure, Benji makes a funny face, like, oooh, ouch, sorry about that, mate . . . but this dude didn’t just get a kick to the family jewels, you know? He’s, like, curled in a ball on the ground, and these guys are using him to play a very violent game of soccer. Best case scenario? This dude doesn’t walk again, period.
But, you know, that’s okay. Because Benji feels bad about it, and Ethan gets out and, really, that’s all that matters, right?
Almost immediately after the prison break, Ethan gets a new mission . . . because having 48 hours to do nothing but shower, sleep, and catch up on episodes of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is apparently not in the job description of secret agent man. He, Jane, and Benji infiltrate the Kremlin, hoping to locate some important files about this evil dude codenamed Cobalt. Unfortunately, the bad guys purposefully blow the team’s cover to the authorities. Ethan aborts the mission, and everyone evacuates the Kremlin right before the bad guys blow it to holy hell.
Jane and Benji escape because they’re awesome. Ethan is less lucky. He gets knocked out by the blast and wakes up in a hospital with this Russian agent dude Sidorov glaring daggers at him. Sidorov’s actually kind of funny, but he doesn’t get a lot of screen time to work with, unfortunately.
Anyway, Ethan escapes from Sidorov. He hitches a ride with the IMF Secretary (Tom Wilkinson) and IMF analyst Brandt. The Secretary tells Ethan that Russia is blaming America for the bombing, and that the president has invoked GHOST PROTOCOL. (It’s just more fun to type it like that.) Ethan is supposed to go back with them to the US . . . unless, of course, he resists arrest, knocks out the Secretary and Brandt, and escapes to go clear his name. Brandt is clearly taken by surprise with this plan and looks none too pleased with it, as you might imagine. However, before Ethan can overrule his objections, the bad guys are back and shooting at their car. The driver and Tom Wilkinson are both killed almost immediately. Brandt and Ethan escape. Ethan, you might notice, spends a decent amount of this movie escaping from things.
Ethan and Brandt do a hobo-train-hop, only this is no ordinary train—it’s actually all that’s left of IMF. It’s also apparently where they store all the shit technology that needs to be red-tagged for maintenance. And since Benji and Jane are already on board, the team’s all there! Yay!
Ethan and co. figure out who the bad guys are: Hendricks (formerly known as Cobalt), who believes that in order for the world to be peaceful and happy, we need to nuke the shit out of it first, and Wistrom, his lackey. Hendricks has a nuclear launch device. Now he needs the activation codes. And where are the activation codes, you might ask? Well, pretty little assassin Sabine has them, which is why she killed Josh Holloway in the first place. The meet is set in Dubai.
So the team goes to Dubai and everything pretty much all goes to hell. I’m not going to detail the whole plan right now because I don’t feel like it, but here are some highlights:
1. Every single bit of technology decides to fail the team for no good reason.
2. Brandt, mysteriously, is a better fighter than most analysts.
3. Jane, who’s been eager to kill Sabine in order to avenge Josh Holloway, does indeed kill Sabine when she kicks her out an open window on the, oh, bazillionth story.
Wistrom gets away with the device, and Ethan pursues him through the city in the middle of a fairly sudden sandstorm. Is this how sandstorms actually operate in Dubai? Cause, seriously. Scratch Dubai off the list, if that’s the case.
Ethan manages to pull a little fake skin away from Wistrom’s face at one point, making me think, YES! The bad guy IS Josh Holloway! Go Carlie! But after Wistrom manages to survive a car accident that should, at the very least, have paralyzed him from the waist down, he gets away and tears off his mask, revealing that he’s actually . . . Hendricks.
And I’m like . . . okaaay? Cause, first, the whole point in having henchmen is so you don’t have to do all the dangerous gruntwork. And secondly . . . who cares? The bad guy isn’t who you thought he was! He’s . . . the other bad guy . . . who you already knew was bad. Er. Surprise?
So, the team gets into a giant tiff about secrets and how spectacularly bad things went and blah blah blah. Ethan storms off in a huff, and Brandt tells the others that Ethan was in jail because his wife was murdered by some Serbian hit squad, and Ethan killed those Serbians. Also, that Brandt had been assigned to protect the couple, and he knew the Serbians were coming, but since things seemed under control and he was ordered not to tell Ethan, he said nothing. Whoops.
Ethan figures out that Wistrom and Hendricks are scheduled to meet in India because they need to use this satellite or something. So the team goes to India. Jane gets to seduce this annoying rich guy for intel, while Brandt gets the unenviable job of jumping into an oven.
(I particularly adore the scene where Brandt and Benji discuss the job. Comic gold, people.)
A bunch of chasing and shooting ensues. Wistrom shoots Jane. Benji shoots Wistrom. Ethan and Hendricks fight each other on this series of platforms—are they in a car dealership or something? I honestly can’t remember, just that there are a ludicrous amount of cars around. I think Hendricks does a suicidal swan dive off of one of the very high platforms in order to keep Ethan from disarming the bomb. The rest of us might have given up at that point, or maybe tried to leap from platform to platform in a futile attempt to reach the bomb anyway . . . but this is why we are not secret agent men. Because we lack giant, steel cojones. Or because we have brains. Whichever you prefer.
Ethan (of the giant steel cojones and lack of brains) decides that the only option available to him is to get in a car, drive it off the very same platform, fall a bazillion feet in the air, and crash it nose-first into the ground . . . where he promptly dies because come on, what the HELL.
Okay, fine, Ethan somehow manages to live. He drags himself out of the car, hitting the stop button on the bomb and proclaiming this:
Only it doesn’t work because the rest of the team hasn’t done their part yet. Ethan’s “I-don’t-understand-why-aren’t-you-working” face is kind of hilarious. He keeps hitting the thing until, finally, the teams come through and the bomb is deactivated. Of course, that’s when Sidorov walks in and is like, “Oh, so you really are on my side, huh?” Ethan weakly nods. Sidorov: “Hospital?” Ethan weakly nods again.
The denouement: Ving Rhames pops up for a minute to laugh at Ethan for actually saying “Mission accomplished!” which . . . awesome. That’s just awesome. That might be my favorite cameo since Bill Murray in Zombieland. Then, Ving leaves, and Ethan talks to Jane, Benji, and Brandt, telling them that every bit of gadgetry failed to work on this mission except the team which . . . ugh. Significantly less awesome. You don’t need to feed me the moral, you guys. I’m practically choking on team spirit right here. Ethan wants everyone to stick around and continue working together.
Jane and Benji are all in, but Brandt still needs to tell Ethan his deep, dark secret. Which proves quite unnecessary because Ethan knows who Brandt is and, furthermore, his wife is still alive. They faked her death, and the whole murdering Serbians story was just a cover to get Ethan into the prison where he could learn more info about . . . um, Hendricks, I think? Anyway, Brandt’s happy that he didn’t completely fail his job now, so he’s in too.
Michelle Monaghan cameos for a very brief second as Ethan’s wife, and they look at each other from a distance. Then Ethan goes on his next mission. And seriously, people . . . don’t secret agents ever get vacations?
A lot of fun. A little silly in parts, but that’s what action movies are for, right? Good cast, good stunts, enjoyable story. Could have had a more interesting villain, though.
It doesn’t matter when technology fails on you. Teamwork will save the day!
. . . except if that technology is an airbag. Cause, apparently airbags will never fail on you. They will save your life . . . even if you fall over fifty feet, head-on, to the pavement far, far below.
Yeah. That happens. You’ll walk that shit right off.
(Also: being a secret agent man sucks. Sure, the job apparently comes with camaraderie and all, but you also have to deal with shitty equipment, faking the death of your spouse, a very good possibility of your own, far more actual death, and absolutely no vacation days. Unless you count prison in Moscow, of course.)