Movie Review: Mission Impossible:Ghost Protocol (Brad Bird)
by Srikanth Mantravadi
Brad Bird fashions a terrific movie in Mission Impossible 4 – a worthy addition to the franchise who’s existence is frequently questioned by critics and threatened by the iconic Bond series and the explosive Bourne series. The Bourne series may have even triggered a major rethinking in the IMF offices leading up to the slapdash serious turn in Mission Impossible 3. JJ Abrams had the penchance for a reboot, after the juvenile attempt by Woo, but the execution was middle of the road, ending in a confused product. MI3 was a blur of a movie. I didn’t remember anything from that movie. Somewhere down the line, the obsession with unravelling the psychological side of the protagonist, making the drama grittier, making the hero vulnerable seems to have gripped the new age franchise directors but this has needlessly led to cutting down on the fun quotient. Not to mention that is Bourne’s universe. Not Hunt’s. Hunt is cool while Bourne is guttural. Hunt doesn’t break a sweat and is not tormented by his inner demons. Neither is he saddled with a fragmented memory. He has a super cool technical crew that has every gadget imaginable while Bourne can only trust his instinct. De Palma’s Hunt could do his own thing. And this is where Bird succeeds emphatically. He reminds us why we see MI movies after all – For pure unadulterated thrills. His Mission Impossible is just that – a pure adrenaline rush of a movie that he forces down your throat in one exhilarating gulp. And before you start breathing again you will see Tom Cruise lathering his charming smile on you and walking away into the smoke, beyond which possibly lay the sets of Mission Impossible 5.(Yes the sequel is not so much as hinted as it is explicitly stated).
The plotting is irrelevant frankly. The devil isn’t in the plot; it is in the treatment. Bird plays it perfectly – The tautness of a chase movie spiked with delightful self deprecatory and deadpan humour. The punches keep rolling till the end with Simon Pegg hogging the bulk of them. Bird ensures that there is no single dull moment in the movie. His storytelling is frenetic and he keeps whisking away Hunt & Co to a new location after every half an hour. The globe trotting Hunt has his hands full with one task after the other so much so this movie should have been called Missions Impossible. Here too there is a delicate balance to be struck between too many missions tiring the viewers down with deja vu and keeping them invested in the movie. This is where the humour comes in. After every mission – even during every mission – there is a constant playful banter between the leads that keeps you hooked.
The stunts are refreshing and thankfully kept to a minimum. I think Hunt gets two major stunt sequences – one in Dubai and one in Mumbai – of which his heroics on the Burj Khalifa are jaw dropping. It is breathtakingly shot and it is good to see Cruise up to it at the age of 50. The desert storm sequence is also picturised well. Tom Cruise kicks ass as Ethan Hunt and roars back to form after some lukewarm releases. Simon Pegg is an amusing, likeable presence while Paula Patton is equal parts gutsiness and sexiness. Renner plays it in a cool, detached manner that is apt for the role. Michael Nyquist is hardly there and looks suitably mad and menacing. The real winner though is Brad Bird and his team of writers who insult our intelligence – take outrageous liberties with it – but still deliver bucket loads of fun. Bird stays true to the grammar of De Palma’s MI be it the self destructing mission messages or Cruise’s lip reading ability but adds his own original touch. It would be interesting to see where the franchise goes from here considering this mighty impressive effort.
PS: I tried to follow the plot as diligently as possible but soon realised that it was not the main deal anyway. I don’t know who the weird guy is who he meets in a port towards the end. I don’t even know why they go to Mumbai.(Ok they have to stop Hendricks (Nyquist) from using the satellite to launch the missile or something but then Paula was looking so ravishing in that green dress, Cruise so charming in his suit, Pegg so amiable with his humour, Renner so sophisticated and Anil Kapoor so jejune that I gave a damn about the details.)
PPS: With regard to Kapoor though the writing could have been better and not so clichéd. I mean,come on!