Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Initially I was only interested in watching this movie for the six-minute Dark Knight Rises prologue. But then the reviews started coming out and they were surprisingly positive. Actually, overwhelmingly positive.

I have no idea why.

The film shows promise during the initial prison escape sequence. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is in solitary confinement in a Russian prison for killing a bunch of Hungarian/Serbian/Some Eastern European thugs. Computer whiz Benji (Simon Pegg – the most entertaining actor of the bunch) hacks into the security system and controls the prison’s electronic door mechanisms while Carter (Paula Patton – the worst actor of the bunch) works on planting explosive charges that connect the sewer system with a janitor’s closet. It seems like a simple extraction – until Hunt decides that he wants to bring along a prisoner he befriended during his time there – by rescuing him from a full-scale prison riot.

The scene plays so well because there are actual stakes…and Cruise says nary a self-satisfied word. The Mission: Impossible movies have a simple problem common to all action films – we already know how it ends and the protagonists make it look effortless getting there. Except in this sequence, characters are getting brutally beaten, Hunt takes as many punches as he dishes out, and because the extra prisoner is played by an actor who isn’t getting paid seven figures, he’s not guaranteed to make it out alive. The stakes are at least palpable. And after this promising sequence – that this will be  a Mission: Impossible we haven’t seen before and might do for Ethan Hunt what Casino Royale did for James Bond – the action devolves into standard video game storytelling – set piece after set piece.

Mission: Impossible is broken down into levels (or alternatively, “missions”):

1. The Prison Mission

2. The Kremlin Mission

3. The Dubai Mission

4. The Mumbai Mission

All this along with the Budapest prologue mission and various briefing sequences so the audience can understand what the next mission entails. Admittedly, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol would be a pretty good video game. A good movie this ain’t.

The second problem is how preposterous the villain is and his nefarious plot. The big bad is played by Michael Nyqvist – or the slightly pudgy, middle-aged character actor who played Mikael Blomkvist in the Swedish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie. He’s still middle-aged and slightly pudgy here, playing a Russian nuclear strategist who is mentally unhinged and thinks that it would be a great idea to nuke the planet to jump-start the next stage in human evolution. Let me repeat that: he wants the world to be nuked so that the survivors can start a new, apparently nuke-resistance, race. Essentially, he wants to get a nuclear device to blow himself up and see if he survives– ultimately – but in the meantime he’ll target a large American city to test his theory. It’s the most ludicrous idea ever committed to an action film nemesis.

Sure it’s a ludicrous motive, but that’s pretty much par for the course for action film villains (the guy in Quantum of Solace wanted to control a water supply – really, a water supply). That’s at least forgivable (even though this one is especially stupid). But the worst part of the film is that this middle-aged, pudgy, recently fired nuclear strategist (see: nerd) can not only elude Ethan Hunt’s investigative techniques and physical skills but he is also a formidable combative opponent. Wait, what? This is a life-long politician without any previous military background or intensive physical training who can outrun – and outfight – a life-long secret agent. This is where the movie fell apart for me – especially when Ethan Hunt can climb the outside of the Burj Khalifa, escape a two-storey hospital with his belt, survive a car crash, but when faced with arguably his most laughable opponent, he gets his ankle broken. Ugh.

This guy can kick Ethan Hunt's ass. Apparently.

The film has some great action sequences (the Burj Khalifa climb is awesome) but it falls apart with cheesy cliches, boring dialogue, the worst villain in recent memory, and absolutely no consequences (if you look closely you can see Tom Cruise collecting 1-Up lives throughout the missions).

A corny, laughable mess.

Grade: C-

Sidenote: The Dark Knight Rises prologue was pretty incredible. Bane is difficult to understand, and the prologue doesn’t make much sense, but it sure looks beautiful as it does it. This part of the movie comes highly recommended.




2 Responses to Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

  1. julia Turnbull says:

    Another incredible review. I go to Modest Movie first for honest ratings that tell the story like it is, without being influenced by mainstream reviewers.

    A recommended first source!

  2. Nostra says:

    Saw it this past weekend and I absolutely loved it. Such a great action movie and really don’t feel the same way you do about it. How do you feel about the previous Mission Impossible movies or action movies in general?

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