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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol | Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Pauka Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Jeremy Renner | Review

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Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol


Tom Cruise returns for the fourth installment of the Mission Impossible film franchise based on the popular Emmy winning TV series from the 1960's.  Each installment employed a different director and   this time around Brad Bird (two time Oscar winner for animated flicks "Ratatouille" and "The Incredibles") takes over from J. J.Abrams to helm his first live action adventure.  He comes through  with flying colors, by keeping the story moving at an entertaining, rapid pace that is best enjoyed if seen in eye popping IMAX.

More akin to the iconic TV series than the previous films, this mission relies more on “teamwork”,  although Cruise is still showcased at the forefront as the leader of the IMF team, cementing his place as a top notch action hero. Appearing comfortable in the role, Cruise turns in a strong, committed performance.

The story opens with an American agent killed in Budapest, then quickly moves to an action packed sequence where a pair of IMF agents, computer/gadgets wiz Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg, who adds comic relief) and smart, kick ass, sexy, Jane Carter (Paula Patton) are engineering a plan to break out fellow agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) from a Russian prison. With newly freed Hunt on board, the team's goal is to infiltrate the Kremlin to retrieve a file containing information on an international terrorist, code name “Cobalt”.  But, in what was a set up,  a massive explosion takes place at the Kremlin, and Hunt and his IMF team are blamed, sending Russian police led by Leonid Lisenker (Ivan Shvedoff) hot on their trail.

In response to the accusation, IMF Secretary (Tom Wilkinson, in cameo role) informs Hunt that because the U.S. is considered responsible for the “undeclared act of terrorism”, the President has shut down the IMF and invoked “ghost protocol”, which means Hunt and his team are basically on their own, with no safe house or help to turn to.  Soon Hunt, Dunn and Carter are joined by William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) who is initially introduced as the IMF Secretary's chief analyst but also carries a dark secret that connects him to Ethan's  past.

Their mission, in which they have no choice but to accept, is to track down and stop the actual perpetrator that framed them, the maniacal, calculating villain Kurt Hendricks, aka “Cobalt” (Michael Nyqvist, from the original “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”) who has gained access to Russian nuclear launch codes and wants to start a nuclear war between Russia and the U.S.

Saving the world from Cobalt and his apocalyptic threat involves encountering Cobalt's henchman, a  sleazy Indian millionaire playboy (Anil Kapoor, "Slumdog Millionaire”), and a pretty blonde, diamond loving assassin (Léa Seydoux). Of course, guys are going to get kick out of the girl on girl fight sequence, in which agent Carter gets to avenge the earlier killing of her fellow agent/love interest.

There is no shortage of high octane action and suspense as Hunt and his IMF buddies globe trot from Moscow to Dubai and then Mumbai in a race against time to save the world from being blown to bits. In Dubai, Hunt engages in a fast paced chase scene by foot and then by car in a blinding sandstorm.  All the dangerous stunts are brilliantly executed. But the most jaw dropping, spectacular, death defying sequence has Hunt climbing the exterior of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world, while clinging on with only suction-cupped gloves, and at times with just one hand, that will keep you at the edge of your seat. You can actually tell that Cruise did most of his own very risky stunt work and he is awesome.

Despite close calls, near death experiences and withstanding major body impacts that would certainly kill anyone in the real world, Hunt walks away from each one unshaken and unhurt as if he is invincible.

But then, this is Mission Impossible.  Living up to that name, you have to suspend disbelief in order to go with the flow. That is easy to do since the filmmakers and cast deliver such an engaging, fun, thrill ride lead.  Mission accomplished.

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