Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (aka MI4) was a big surprise to me. Having found the first Mission Impossible film pompous and the two sequels unwatchable, I saw the fourth on the strength of its enthusiastic reception. Thank heavens for that. Far from taking itself too seriously, Ghost Protocol is a thoroughly enjoyable action thriller that pulls in every tool it can to add excitement and humour, whether it’s Simon Pegg, extraordinary stunts, gobsmacking locations, clever gadgets, a brave lead, characters to love and laugh at, and a plot straight out of the good old days of the Cold War. In fact, if I didn’t know better I’d say that here was a film doing all it can to outbond Bond.
Could it be that the grittiness and reality of the Daniel Craig Bonds has allowed space for a cheeky usurper?
The plot of MI4 is not important. Something to do with the Mission Impossible team having to clear its name for the bombing of the Kremlin and discovering the reasons for the murder of its agent. The crime against the Kremlin is so large that all support for the secret agency that likes to blow up phones is lost and the Ghost Protocol takes effect. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his crew (Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner) are on their own.
At the heart of MI4 is Tom Cruise and from start to finish Cruise excels in a role that he revels in. He has become Ethan Hunt. There isn’t a stunt here – not even scaling the outside of tallest building in the world – that Cruise can’t make you feel he would do. There isn’t a jump he couldn’t make, not a fight he couldn’t win and not a disguise you wouldn’t believe in. Wrap that up with ridiculously brilliant gadgets, masks, sensational locations, edge of the seat infiltration of hostile establishments, handsome actors, beautiful actresses, diamonds, cocktail parties and trains, and you have the recipe for a fantastic couple of hours of entertainment.
There are too many moments to pick out but the scenes in Dubai, with its spacescrapers and sandstorms, are so memorable that I want to see the film again to appreciate them for the second time. Even more miraculously, the plot and action don’t play second fiddle to the set pieces or locations. There are twists and turns of the tongue and camera that amaze and make the characters and story worthy of the fantastic stunts and the wonderful scenery. What with the glamorous locations and non-American actors such as Simon Pegg, there is a multinational appeal to MI4 and it has its tongue firmly in cheek while doing its very best to entertain its audiences.
MI4 achieves just what it sets out to do and, as a result, I think Skyfall, the next Bond film, is going to have to try much harder.