Year: 2011
Director: Brad Bird
Writer: Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec
Region of Origin: US
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, 1.44:1 (IMAX scenes)
Rating: PG-13
35mm, 65mm, Color, 133 mins

Synopsis: The IMF is shut down when it’s implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization’s name. (Source)

As far as I’m concerned, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is the absolute best wall-to-wall jolt of pure cinematic escapism to come out in a long time. Its amazingly staged and refreshing not-so-CG action scenes are huge in scope, making full use of director Brad Bird’s (The Incredibles) impeccable sense of style and intricate detail. If you’re a Cruise hater, you’ll miss out for not giving this movie a chance; honestly, it does a great job of not only reminding us why Cruise was once at the top of celebrity superstardom, but also invigorating new blood into a franchise that could’ve ended a long time ago. It knows exactly where its roots are and what it wants to be, effortlessly delivering the best possible combination of fresh action espionage that’s light on its feet and has just the right amount of emotional connection to prevent you from getting that sour-candy aftertaste when it’s all said and done. Did I mention it’s huge?

The action starts quick, with a Moscow prison break set to Dean Martin’s crooning voice, followed by the new team’s first job at the Kremlin going wrong and the entire IMF being disavowed. Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) crew and a train car of malfunctioning gadgets are all that stand between the world and nuclear war. Thankfully the story this time out is a very straightforward, earning its thrills by playing with the series’ built-in stereotypes and expectations. It’s a loose sequel, which also plays well as a stand-alone entry and reboot all at once. The action is literally nonstop, and it’s amazing how it not only pushes the plot but helps us understand our heroes. Brad Bird proves that he was an inspired choice to take on this newest installment, and he films it classically and doesn’t give into overwhelming CGI, instead filming action that’s clean, clear and frenetic with barely any shaky camera work or quick editing. It’s something we rarely see these days, and he pulls it off like no other. You can tell he loves getting to utilize real people too, and if this is just a small taste of what’s to come, I can’t wait to see what else he’s got up his sleeve — he’s a true visual storyteller.

Complimenting Bird’s fresh directing approach is a team that finally feels fleshed out and more dependent on each other than in any previous installment. The new blood all have interesting back stories, with Jane (Paula Patton), newly promoted field agent Benji (Simon Pegg, who thankfully has a large role) and Brandt’s (Jeremy Renner) backgrounds cleverly woven in and out of the main narrative, making you care for their motivations and what they each personally have at stake. I also like how each character has a pivotal role to play in every action scene, allowing for a nice domino effect in their actions. By the end of each ordeal I was honestly ready to see what else they could accomplish as a team, and the writing really feels like they are establishing them as long time players rather than single serving mates.

It goes without saying that Tom Cruise is amazing in Ghost Protocol. His commitment to doing his own stunts creates a genuine sense of danger and believability that is commendable, even if it’s taken for granted. His Ethan also has an interestingly darker vibe this time out, culminating in an emotionally fulfilling climax for anyone who’s seen the previous movie. Once you add to this the story’s ability to mix in a liberal dose of clever humor, which walks the tricky line between satire and parody without ever devolving into the latter, you’ve got a kinetic thrill ride that brings genuine fun back to the movies.

Lastly, it would be a crime not to mention that over twenty minutes (including the vertigo-inducing Burj Khalifa scene) is filmed in IMAX, and it’s stunning to watch. Bird has stated that his intention was to bring back a level of showmanship to movies and he’s spectacularly pulled that off. You need to experience this on those large screens, which display a level of clarity that is way more immersive than 3D will ever be, especially coupled with the large scale of this movie.

While this mission isn’t perfect by any means (for one, you can easily pick out tons of plot holes), and may be a little one-note for some, the relentless pace make its flaws easy to glance over and in the moment it holds up as much as it needs to. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is pure entertainment, and it brings back a level of craftsmanship and good-natured fun that has been missing from the action genre. Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to have a good time.

Crome Rating: 4/5