December 18, 2011 by Vinnie Leduc
I’ll admit it. There was an ulterior motive to why I decided to catch Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol early in IMAX last night before it rolls out to regular theaters next week. While I am a fan of the series, the Eminem-y trailer didn’t exactly blow me away or anything. Plus, I had already watched and enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes sequel and Young Adult earlier yesterday, so at that point I might’ve been more excited to catch the exclusive prologue of The Dark Knight Rises.
Yeah, that was pretty cool, but if the actual movie I had just dropped a painful $39 for (no wonder San Francisco is about to become the first U.S. city to top a $10 minimum wage) hadn’t been so great, I would’ve spent most of those two hours still trying to guess what the hell Bane McMumbles was saying instead of pressing back against my seat and agape as Tom Cruise did his crazy (non-Scientologic) thing.
His next installment in the spy movie adventures, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, is a spectacle to behold in IMAX. Nearly a quarter of the movie was filmed in the giant screen format, and damn, it looks gooooooood. A big reason is that Ghost Protocol is more Bond than Bourne, opting for the exotic in terms of locales, cars, and gadgets. The collection of sequences in Dubai is one of the most thrilling ones in theaters this year. And I’m not just talking about the breathtaking shots from the world’s tallest skyscraper or the high-flying stuntwork that’ll keep your various body parts clenched… the entire middle act is cinematic heaven.
Give credit to Oscar-winning director Brad Bird, who’s making his live-action debut after an already illustrious career in animation (The Incredibles, Ratatouille). He’s managed to make an impressive movie out of a plot of recycled parts, one you could easily swap with dozens of other movies and video games. I mean, I thought the evil master plan in A Game of Shadows was generic, but Ghost Protocol‘s was as clichéd as they come.
Like the new Sherlock Holmes, there’s a Dragon Tattoo alum (Michael Nyqvist), and he can’t measure up to the previous film’s villain either. Remember how hauntingly intense Philip Seymour Hoffman was in the third one? I always will. But what this Mission accomplishes that I lamented the Sherlock sequel doesn’t is Ghost Protocol‘s stand-alone status. And with Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner added to the mix to potentially inherit the lead if and when Cruise calls it quits, the future of this franchise is bright.
What isn’t always bright is the humor. The film cracks way too many jokes, courtesy of Simon Pegg usually, and although over half of them may get a chuckle out of you, it’s kinda distracting. What is this… Get Smart? You know what else is distracting? Ghost Protocol is littered (iPhone!) with product placement (BMW!), just in time (MacBook!) for the holidays (iPad!). It’s not as shameless as Transformers or an Adam Sandler movie, but it’s close. That hybrid concept car is pretty sweet though. (BMW!)
The trailer gives away too much in my opinion, but there’s no question you should choose to accept this Mission, arguably the best of the franchise. I’m still debating this internally because Ghost Protocol wasn’t anywhere near as emotionally impactful as J.J. Abrams’ Mission: Impossible III, but Ghost Protocol may be the most fun you’ll have at the movies this holiday season. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol gets 4.0 out of 5 stars or B+ or Great.