“The Incredibles” director Brad Bird takes over the action franchise
Good news, Pixar fans. The live-action sequel to “The Incredibles” has arrived.
Much like director Brad Bird’s animated masterpiece, “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” features thrilling action sequences, high-tech gadgetry, light-hearted humor and a love of 1960s spycraft. The stakes are greater, and the body count is significantly higher, but that unshakable sense of fun and adventure remains the same.
The fourth film in the “Mission: Impossible” franchise hits the ground running.
Before the opening credits roll, we’ve witnessed a rooftop chase, an assassination and an explosive escape from a high-security Moscow prison. And that’s just the first few minutes!
Secret agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his teammates, Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), have been assigned to infiltrate the Kremlin in the hopes of learning more about the terrorist codenamed Cobalt.
But the plan goes sour when Cobalt — later identified as Russian nuclear strategist Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist) — blows their cover, then blows up the Kremlin itself.
In the international brouhaha that follows, the president of the United States initiates “Ghost Protocol,” effectively shutting down the Impossible Mission Force and severing the team’s ties with the outside world.
“The four of us are all that remains of the IMF,” Hunt tells his team, which now includes William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), an intelligence analyst with a dark secret. “No satellite safe house. No support. No extraction.”
Together, they must find Hendricks and stop him from launching nuclear Armageddon — all while dodging a Russian police inspector (Vladimir Mashkov) who holds Hunt personally responsible for the Kremlin bombing.
Tom Cruise is at the top of his form as Ethan Hunt, a brusque, battle-hardened secret agent who’s lost everything in his endless mission to keep the world safe.
The movie’s most dazzling stunt finds the action star engaging in vertigo-inducing espionage outside the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It’s an amazing scene, made all the more remarkable by the fact that’s really Cruise playing Spider-Man 130 stories above the ground.
There’s a dangerous car chase set in the middle of a sandstorm, and a desperate duel in a state-of-the-art Mumbai car park. Each adrenaline-charged scene is an energetic mix of shock, suspense and sleight-of-hand.
“Jumping the Broom” beauty Paula Patton channels her inner Pam Grier as a kick-ass secret agent who looks great in an evening gown. “The Hurt Locker” star Jeremy Renner exudes moody sex appeal, and Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace’s dour co-star from the Swedish “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series, is a suitably sinister villain.
Meanwhile, Simon Pegg (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Star Trek”) provides much of the comic relief as a techie-turned-field agent who’s still pretty wet behind the ears.
For all its life-or-death drama, in fact, “Ghost Protocol” is an action comedy at heart.
That’s amply evident as we watch Patton flirt with an amorous Indian businessman (“Slumdog Millionaire” scene-stealer Anil Kapoor), or see Cruise and Pegg sneak down a hallway with the help of a sophisticated digital projector. (One of the film’s best running gags is the fact that the team’s high-tech tools seem to fail exactly when they’re needed most.)
With “Ghost Protocol,” as with “The Incredibles,” Brad Bird manages to achieve that perfect balance of believability and escapism that makes the spy movie genre so enjoyable. Pretty incredible, huh?
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