The Mission: Impossible Collection #4 Ghost Protocol

The Mission Impossible movie franchise is 25 years old this year, and as the seventh movie is delayed arriving next May, I’m having a brief retrospective of the series. Warning: Spoilers.

The Director

The director of The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille, Brad Bird is best known for his work in animation for Disney and Pixar and on many series on TV. He has since made the unfairly criticised Tomorrowland and the brilliant sequel The Incredibles 2.

Closest to Bond

Mad scientist Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist) wants to start a nuclear war and the IMF must stop him. 

Very Bondian, indeed this movie is possibly closest to that other spy colossus – the action packed-pre-title sequence, theme tune, the globe-trotting, the gadgets, the gun play, cars and eye-popping action.  It is worth noting the very brief appearance of Andreas Wisniewski (villain Necros from The Living Daylights) as an arms dealer’s bodyguard, following his previous appearance as a guard for Max in the first Mission Impossible. 

Twists

The film has a great story, starting with Hunt in a Russian prison for murky reasons, and he seems to be keeping secrets from the team. New team member Paula Patton is great as Agent Carter and her fight with assassin Léa Seydoux is a bruising struggle.

We later learn from Brandt (Jeremy Renner) that Hunt’s wife Julia (Michelle Monaghan from MI:3) has been killed, an audacious and shocking twist. After the attack on The Kremlin, the president has initiated “Ghost Protocol” where ALL the IMF agents across the world are disavowed, truly leaving the team on their own.

The script also has some genuine laughs, usually delivered by Renner at his most sardonic.

That “Mission Impossible” Moment

The entire Burj Khalifa sequence is stunning. The con where the team split and play both sides of an arms deal simultaneously in two identical rooms is wonderful. The crowning achievement is the sequence where Hunt must scale up the outside of the Burj Khalifa using malfunctioning gloves which “bond” to the windows.

Watch the behind-the-scenes documentary to see how crazy those stunts were.  And yes, that is Tom Cruise doing those stunts. Everything about the sequence is nerve-jangling.

Tom Cruise Running Scene

The foot chase as Hunt runs from the Burj Khalifa, chasing the goon right into a sandstorm.

Don’t Forget

The opening pursuit (and brief flashback) with Josh Holloway as doomed agent Hanaway, the jail escape, and the sudden attack on the IMF Secretary (Tom Wilkinson) in his car. It is also good to see Anil Kapoor having great fun as Mumbai playboy Brij Naath.

Honourable Mention

The outrageously silly but brilliant scene in the Kremlin corridor with Hunt and the now field-trained Benji (Simon Pegg) distracting the guard with a water dropping sound effect, and silently pushing a huge projection screen down the corridor to access a secure room. A fun spin on the silent Pentagon heist from the first movie.

Fuse Rating = 5 out of 5

This is a genuinely thrilling movie, with brilliant action and suspense, heightened with Giacchino’s exciting and urgent score which for me contains nods to James Horner and Jerry Goldsmith. Brad Bird’s The Incredibles worked well as a spy caper, and his handling of the many set pieces in his first live action IMAX feature film is exceptional.

Some have complained that the finale is disappointing as it involves Hunt beating up a guy in his fifties in a car park – which is funny for at the time of the movie’s release, Cruise was 49 and Nyqvist was 50 – but who had ever seen a fight in a multi-storey automated car garage with moving gantries, and a final 100 metre plummet inside a car?

By the end, Julia is revealed to be alive but in protection in a very touching moment, Brandt joins the team, and Ving Rhames makes a tiny appearance.  Hunt’s next mission is teased with news about “The Syndicate”.

Ghost Protocol seamlessly blends the spy and action elements with outrageous stunts, great cinematography, and a keen sense of humour.  It is huge, satisfying fun.

Next Time

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation – with shadowy villains, an operatic score, and a stunning antagonist.

Producer J.J. Abrams, Brian Burk, Tom Cruise
Director Brad Bird
Screenplay Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec
Cinematographer Robert Elswit
Editor Paul Hirsch
Music Michael Giacchino
US premiere December 2011
Tom Cruise Ethan Hunt
Paula Patton Jane
Simon Pegg Benji
Jeremy Renner Brandt
Michael Nyqvist Hendricks
Anil Kapoor Brij Nath
Léa Seydoux Sabine Moreau
Josh Holloway Hanaway
Ving Rhames Luther
Michelle Monaghan Julia
Tom Wilkinson IMF Secretary

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