Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ghost Protocol's mission? Not entirely impossible.

I initially wasn't excited when I heard there was a new Mission Impossible film on the horizon. Nothing personal against action films, but I find that most titles from the genre are little more than a sugar rush -- chock full of adrenaline and nice window dressing, but little in the way of substance. Though perhaps the standard can't be thoroughly applied to the Mission Impossible franchise. Mission Impossible II was the coolest thing in the world to my seventh grade mind, but tastes and theories change.

Would Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol ignite a similar spark?

If nothing else, director Brad Bird does make some effort to buck the rules of the genre to some degree. The IMF is disbanded and disavowed after being accused of detonating a bomb within the Kremlin, which ensures that Ethan Hunt and his merry men have their back against the wall throughout the duration of the film.

The main plot sees Hunt and his crew attempt to stop Swedish nuclear scientist Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist) from obtaining Russian launch codes and launching a nuclear weapon. The catch is that the Hunt's team is off the grid and in the dark, and has to draw up all their plans from scratch. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Ghost Protocol is that it bucks the trend of elite spy team who is always in control of all things at all times.

The film's sense of dramatic tension is simply astounding, and it derives from the fact that the team's plan seems so improbable. Something is always going wrong, and a good deal of that derives from the actions of the bumbling Benji Carter, (Simon Pegg) who has been upgraded to a field agent since the last film. He attempts to assist the team with his computer hacking skills, but often does more harm than good. Often to humorous effect.

And there is also the fact that Ghost Protocol simply executes its action scenes much better than most action flicks do. The pacing is breakneck, and the stunts are out of this world. You get to see chase scenes through a sandstorm in Dubai, a climactic battle inside a technologically advanced parking garage, and a game of switcheroo played against a dazzling femme fatale. And then there is also Tom Cruise's gasp inducing climb up the side of a building using nothing but sticky gloves. What's not to like?

In many action films, the acting often tends to take a backseat to cinematic action and dramatic tension. Ghost Protocol is no exception, but there are some examples of quality acting. Paula Patton tackles the role of IMF agent Jane Carter, and her grief and furor is highly evident as she embarks on a quest to avenge a fallen colleague.

Jeremy Renner also does a top notch job playing the role of an analyst with a conflicted past. If there's a weakness, it's that some of the characters aren't fully fleshed out. Patton's role gets downgraded later in the film to the point that she's little more than a bombshell , and I can't help but wish I had more backstory on the mysterious assassin Sabine Moreau (Léa Seydoux).

Perhaps in the end, the action film genre is just going to be a genre that I don't see much substance in. However, I do have to give credit where credit is due. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol delivers a level of suspense and tension that is second to none, and is a masterful representation of all that an action film should be

No comments: