Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

The first Mission Impossible movie was released in 1996, more than 15 years ago, and since then there have been three sequels, including the latest, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. I thoroughly enjoyed the first film in the series, while the second and third follow-ups were decent (in hindsight I think I brainwashed myself into liking them more than I really did). Unfortunately, the fourth film debunked the illusion I had that this was actually a quality franchise.

Ghost Protocol wasn’t terrible by any means, but nor was it that good. I was disappointed in the direction director Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille, The Iron Giant) took the film. He comes from a childish background if you will, and I think it was reflected in the film. In the first Mission Impossible, the mood was dark, mysterious, and obscure. Now, four films later (each with a different director), the series has devolved into a transparent, shallow, and self-serving franchise, which has replaced a sense of despair, which dominated the first film but has since faded with unnecessary comic relief.

It’s not surprising that the franchise has shown inconsistencies, that will happen with four different directors at the helm, but it is frustrating to see them trying to hang on to storylines and characters established in prior films to give viewers a trivial sense of continuity. 

For instance, in Ghost Protocol, they briefly reference Ving Rhames’ character, Luther Stickell, who has been a part of the franchise since the first film. Unfortunately, he was totally overlooked in this film other than a brief cameo appearance at the end. The same can be said of Michelle Monaghan’s character, Julia (the main character’s wife), who played such an critical part in MI:III’s storyline. In Ghost Protocol, she is talked about a bit, and is onscreen in the closing scene of the film. To me, it was too little too late. She was too easily written off and then briefly used to tease the audience at the end, something I found to be an unnecessary detail and somewhat insulting.

Another thing I didn’t care for was Tom Wilkinson’s unaccredited role as the IMF Secretary. I adore Wilkinson as an actor and think he is a tremendous talent. To see him used in such a frivolous fashion, namely that he is onscreen for maybe five minutes before being dispatched, was frustrating. It’s like the franchise wants to get as many big names in the film as possible.

With that said, Ghost Protocol totally glossed over other characters from the first three films (you’ll have to excuse me if some of these characters were killed off, can’t recall) such as Zhen Lei (Maggie Q), Theodore Brassel (Laurence Fishbourne), Lindsey Farris (Keri Russel), Declan Gormley (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), and John Musgrave (Billy Crudup), just to name a few. The point I’m trying to get at is the Mission Impossible franchise has a history of big-name actors, and it’s a shame to see them either fall by the wayside or be utterly underused. I had hope MI:III’s cast would return as supporting characters to give the latest film a foundation and credibility, but other than Benji Dunn, played by Simon Pegg (the comic relief referenced earlier), that wasn’t the case.

Instead, they introduced several new character including Brandt, played by Jeremy Renner. I usually like Renner as an actor, but his role in Ghost Protocol was superfluous. He wasn't introduced until about halfway into the film and there seemed to be a little bit of mystery surrounding him. That was eventually revealed, and it was about as anticlimactic as it could have been. In my opinion, the film would have been pretty much been the same without Renner in it.

As far as the story’s premise, which you can read about on IMBD, it wasn’t original and not very engaging. Don’t get me wrong, the threat of global nuclear war is terrifying, but it wasn’t executed that well. Hard to be terrified when comic relief is inserted into some of the most dramatic moments.

The best thing going for Ghost Protocol, as is the case with all the Mission Impossible movies, is the action. Tom Cruise reprises his role as Ethan Hunt in a performance that was neither impressive nor disappointing, I guess you could say he was satisfactory as an action star (he probably doesn’t have too many years left for such roles).

I will admit that the whole swinging from the Burj Khalifa, the world’s largest building located in Dubai, was exhilarating. Cruise actually did the stunt and it is purely insane. I’d never do it, and while I think it’s crazy for someone else to, I enjoyed watching it. This is one of a few moments in the film that actually mesmerized, though you have to wade through quite a bit of nonsense to get to it.

If you’re looking to numb your brain with some entertaining action sequences, fight scenes, and chases, then Ghost Protocol will fit the bill. Just realize you won’t be getting much in the department of character development and plot.

Buddies Forever Movie Club Rating: 52%

Follow us on Twitter at Buddies4everMC for all the latest and greatest movie reviews.

No comments:

Post a Comment