Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Release: Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol

It wouldn't be all that difficult to take almost all of Tom Cruise's characters and believe they are all actually the same person if you could ignore the fact that they were made at different times.  For example: Brian Flanagan (Cocktail) gets his life together and goes to law school.  He graduates and joins The Firm (Mitch McDeere).  However, since that doesn't work out, he joins the navy, becomes a pilot (Maverick, Top Gun) but realizes his legal career might be put to better use and he defends some murderers (Lt. Daniel Kaffee, A Few Good Men).  After he's released from military service, the intelligence community decides he's worth the investment since he's already a lawyer (Ethan Hunt, Mission: Impossible series, Roy Miller Knight and Day).  Once that's over, he decides politics might be the way to go and he becomes a Senator (Jasper Irving, Lions for Lambs).  Of course, you can't be a politician forever, and he goes becomes a music mogul (uncredited, Tropic Thunder).  If you can add to this let me know, but it's always struck me as odd that his characters seem to be living out some parallel life to Tom Cruise.

Anyway, his newest movie, Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol is a good continuation on that parallel life. He's been within the intelligence agency for a while now, but the world has changed a bit and the technology with it.  There are new people to fight and lots of people to disavow when they screw up.  He works with Paula Patton (the teacher from Precious), Simon Pegg, and Jeremy Renner to fix some of those screw ups.  He's much more of a loner than Ethan Hunt was in any of the previous movies.  It's pretty unusual for a fictional character to actually learn from his mistakes in previous incarnations of a franchise (I'm looking at you, James Bond), but Ethan seems to have a wisdom and knowledge about him that gives you confidence he knows what he's doing.  

I wasn't surprised when I learned a man known for animation (The Incredibles, Ratatouille), Brad Bird did a terrific job with the action and in particular with the visual aspects of the film.  You are seriously scared when Hunt is hanging on the outside of a building relying only on one of Simon Pegg's inventions.  He doesn't rely solely on dramatic music to create the tension, but from wonderfully scary visuals.  This is true throughout the film, which also has more daytime, international scenery than any other action film I've seen in years.  All of the usual toys of a Mission Impossible film are present: from hot women in beautiful dresses, to masks, to disavowed rogue agents.  Really terrific holiday fare.  4 of 5 stars/lambs


David Bishop said...

I've discovered over the past 5 years that I'm in the minority for actually liking Tom Cruise as an actor. I think he picks good movies, and I think his performances at the very least fit the overall films that he's in. When I start to name Tom Cruise movies (Minority Report, Jerry Maguire, The Last Samurai, The Firm, Mission Impossible, etc.), I find myself naming movies that I either like or love.

Here's another thing about him that I kinda dig. He does most of his own stunts. When we're watching Ethan Hunt climb the world's tallest building in Dubai, it turns out that that is actually Tom Cruise. Granted, he's got a few dozen wires keeping him from a fatal fall, but it's still him, and I wonder if that scene would have been nearly as tense if we, the audience, could have detected heavy reliance on a stunt double or CGI.

I like how you've noticed the maturity of Ethan Hunt when compared to James Bond. This movie is a nice progression from the third film, and we get a reasonable amount of character growth (as much as can be expected in an action film).

Jess said...

David - thanks for the great feedback. I was more impressed with Cruise's performance in this than I have been in a long time. I think the creators also took into account the fact that he's been doing this kind of character a while.