Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Brad Bird made his name with two brilliant animated films, The Incredibles and Ratatouille. Mission Impossible 4 is his first live-action film, and it confirms that he  is a first-rate director.
There are three sequences here – a break from a Russian prison, a hazardous climb up the tallest building in the world in Dubai, and a climactic fight in an automated multi-storey car park in Mumbai – that rank among the best not just of the year, but of all time.
It’s these that make Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol superior to the other films in this series, and very much worth the price of admission. See it, if you can, on an Imax screen, where the stunts are breath-taking.
The story, regrettably, is a routine affair that never departs from formula. Yet another madman is intent on bringing about a world war. He’s called Kurt Hendricks, and is played uninterestingly by Michael Nykvist.
Apparently, this nutter’s belief is that only when the world has succumbed to nuclear annihilation will there be lasting peace. It’s a miracle this guy can get anyone to be his homicidal henchmen.
Hendricks blows up the Kremlin and pins the blame on America - more specifically agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team (Simon Pegg and Paula Patton).
After the death by explosion of their boss (Tom Wilkinson), Hunt and co know they are on their own as rogue agents though, as usual in this series, they never seem to suffer from any shortage of money or hi-tech gadgetry.
Major faults remain from the first three pictures. Ethan Hunt must be the blandest, most boring action hero in modern cinema.
The shape of the screenplay and cheesy attempts at flippant wisecracks are familiar from too many Bond films, and it’s curious to see a modern film still peddling a view of Russian-American relations that dates from the Cold War.
No one’s going to pretend this film is deep or meaningful but, at its best, it really is pretty awesome.