The Mission: Impossible series has changed in tone with each new release, mainly due to the radically different directors who envision the action in their own specific style of film-making.
The original movie best resembled the television series that it was based upon, and was more of a suspenseful thriller than the bullet-riddled extravaganza that M:I 2 was.
John Woo’s attempt at making Ethan Hunt a more fully-developed character in the sequel resulted in a grotesque amount of slow-mo explosions and stunts; with one scene in particular that included the director’s trademark flying doves needlessly appearing in frame.
Then, J.J. Abrams and his flair for mixing storytelling with adrenaline-pumping set pieces, delivered what most critics praised as the finest Mission: Impossible film yet. But that was before Ghost Protocol.
After seeing an exclusive preview of the upcoming fourth film in the series, it was immediately marked as my must-see movie to watch this holiday season. In a crowded lineup of potential blockbusters, standing out isn’t an easy thing to do. But Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol sets itself apart from other contenders by raising the bar for what’s been seen in any action picture to date. If the trailers didn’t get you hooked, then here are three major reasons that demand the need for pre-ordering tickets instantly.
1. The new IMF team
It’s not that the former Mission: Impossible films didn’t have the luxury of talented actors appearing alongside Cruise, it’s that no one in particular was a distinct presence worthy enough to stand out among the pyrotechnics on display. Yes, there’s Ving Rhames providing occasional comic relief, boding well as the overseer during Ethan’s missions, but his character’s serviceable routine now has ran its course after three films.
This time around, since the IMF is shut down and Hunt’s team has gone rogue, they are much more valuable to one another. Simon Pegg returns from his brief appearance in M:I 3, to have a stronger role in Ghost Protocol as the gang’s gadget expert. His sly quick-witted humor complements the action exceptionally well, like when he hastily briefs Hunt on how to use his custom sticky gloves to scale an impossibly tall building (more on that later).
The rest of the squad is just as defined, with Paula Patton serving as equal parts eye candy and hand-to-hand assassin, and the always intriguing Jeremy Renner who plays a roguish agent with mysterious charm. Each one of them steals scenes from Cruise on a regular basis, even when it comes to the physical side of things. A grisly fight scene with Patton, the lovely Léa Seydoux, and a lot of damaged furniture; is proof that each member of this reformed IMF team can handle themselves individually.
As for Cruise, he does his usual business of leading the charge but the dynamic between him and the younger actors is noticeably more refreshing then in previous films from the series. There is a large emphasis on the essence of teamwork in Ghost Protocol and it’s a smart decision for the Mission:Impossible franchise to take.
2. The stunts
The fact that Tom Cruise still does his own stunts at his age is mind-boggling, but every death-defying act he’s done before isn’t anywhere near the same realm of insanity that takes place in Ghost Protocol. Everyone heard he actually climbed the highest building in the world and, contrary to personal opinion, the man is certified crazy to pass on a stunt double for that day of filming.
Jaws will definitely drop when watching this scene. Acquiring the true feeling of vertigo has been a longtime achievement directors have strived to perfect, but no film can attain the efforts reached in the latest M:I film. The scale is unbelievable and, knowing that Cruise is actually the one scaling the building, makes the sequence that more suspenseful. Having a fear of heights has never been so perfectly captured on-screen until now.
The other scene showcased at the exclusive preview included a chase through an ongoing sandstorm. Even if CGI effects of the approaching storm streaming behind Cruise looked out of place, once the sand swells across the screen things become hectic, and fast. As Hunt looks for his target, his sense of direction is thrown off and he appears to be generally lost.
It’s all filmed in a way that maintains a clear understanding of comprehension even during the frantic nature that is obscuring the action. The scene ends with the money shot that pops up in the film’s trailer, where Ethan barrel rolls out of the way of a flipped vehicle. After I witnessed two massive set pieces that will appear in Ghost Protocol, it’s a good bet to assume that the quality of the action for the rest of the film will be equally as thrilling.
Watching any film on a big screen is an extra treat, but if there’s one thing The Dark Knight proved, it’s that seeing a movie with scenes filmed specifically for IMAX is even better. Ghost Protocol ups the ante however, since the scenes I previously mentioned all appear in glorious 70mm format. Everything I stated about the wonder of watching Cruise climbing the highest building in the world is further enhanced when it is viewed in IMAX.
Since the screen opens up to a point where it overwhelms you in size, it’s an effective way to make the action scenes in Ghost Protocol much more immersive than viewing it in a regular theater. The movie was filmed with IMAX in mind and this becomes evident the moment you watch Cruise lean outside the window and stare at the city of Dubai sprawled out beneath him. I can assure all the naysayers out there who don’t deem it necessary to spend a few extra bucks to see a movie in IMAX, that Ghost Protocol on the big screen is an experience unlike anything seen before it.
For his first live-action feature ever, director Brad Bird is pushing the Mission: Impossible into new heights of shock and awe that the series has now evolved into. With his knack for combining personal touches of cartoonish behavior during sequences of outlandish action, along with a very capable Tom Cruise in extreme physical form; Bird is out to prove what is possible with an unlimited capacity for imagination and creativity in film-making.
If you don’t check out Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol this December, then you are depriving yourself of the real reason that we go to the movies in the first place: to have fun.