Ethan Hunt takes us around the world and back in “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.” In the fourth installment, Tom Cruise reprises his famous role as an IMF agent that can’t be traced or stopped for long.
Nuclear missile codes are the focus of this film, and Hunt is hunting Kurt Hendricks — alias Cobalt — who has the potential to obliterate the United States if he gets his hands on them. Joining Ethan are agents Jane (Paula Patton) and Benji (Simon Pegg). Jane, who has just lost an agent, is grieving and hungry for revenge. Benji, on the other hand, is a tech wizard who is better with a computer than a gun.
The mission: Infiltrate the Kremlin to get the codes before Cobalt does. The problem: Cobalt is fast, and the Kremlin explodes. Although the culprit is clear to Hunt and his team, the explosion ruins the relationship with the U.S. and Russia. IMF is to blame and dismantled by the president. But that won’t stop Hunt from doing what he does best: Completing the mission by any means necessary.
The first “Mission Impossible” film was released in 1996. While certain elements of the film are standard — Cruise, the self-destructing messages, disguises and the ubiquitous theme song — others add a fresh take. The presence of iPads and iPhones to this film would make the late Steve Jobs proud. Cruise’s co-stars might also appeal to younger people who are not familiar with the first three films, but are fans of Pegg and Patton.
Pegg is known comedies such as “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.” He is normally seen alongside his writing partner and actor Nick Frost, but Cruise is his new counterpart in this film. If you’re scratching your head at the pairing, you’re not alone. The characters in the film are shocked that Benji was able to qualify as an agent. However, his technical ability is crucial to their missions.
Luckily for Pegg fans, he’s still the same: quirky, a little nerdy and really funny. Even if a film with explosions, murder and gunfire, Benji provides comic relief when you least expect it. He’s so appealing on film and would outshine Cruise if it wasn’t for the fact that he’s … Tom Cruise.
Patton, on the other hand, is underwhelming. She has been seen in a variety of films — the Oscar-winning drama “Precious” and the well-received comedy “Jumping the Broom” — but she was the weak link. Her action scenes were decent, but she was a little disappointing overall.
Jeremy Renner’s character, Brandt, is an intelligence agent who finds himself entangled with the IMF and their troubles. Like Patton, Renner was in an Oscar-winning film, “The Hurt Locker.” Unlike Patton, he is able to hold his own instead of fading into the background. He even takes on Hunt’s famous dangling scene — with a twist, of course.
However, Cruise is obviously the main draw. Aside from some overacting on his part, he reprises his role of Ethan almost with the same level of intensity as in the first film. It’s almost exhausting watching him risk his life repeatedly as he escapes from explosions, dust storms and gunfire.
The commercials often highlight him in Dubai scaling the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Watching the entire scene in IMAX is exhilarating. Call Cruise crazy — well, many already have — but the stunts in this film surpass any in the previous ones. The movie was shot in places such as Budapest and Moscow, and the skylines and other scenery are breathtaking.
On the downside, the movie is longer than it needs to be. Once you think it’s over, something else explodes, somebody else dies and Ethan has to risk his life again … and again .. and again. There are some slow points, but the intensity does return.
As movie franchises grow, stories become trite and fans get tired. Cruise first starred in this role 16 years ago, and sometimes audiences can be unforgiving of older actors in action roles.
The same does not hold true for this film. I think “Mission Impossible” fans — even those who watched the original television series — will genuinely like this film.
From the locations to the cast to the impressive technology, I would be surprised if this film didn’t finish at No. 1 at the box office. “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” opened Dec. 16 today in IMAX theaters and everywhere Friday, but I suggest you try to catch it in IMAX for the full experience.