Monday, December 26, 2011

Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol

Mission Impossible is back with its 4th movie, and one of the best - well, better than the 3rd, which was pretty good, but I'm not sure about the 1st and 2nd movies in the franchise, which were each in their own ways superb.

Alias, Lost, and Fringe fans (I'm a big one, though not of the ending of Lost), will be glad to know that J. J. Abrams is back, this time getting top producer credit (he directed MI3), and Josh Holloway puts in an appearance at the beginning.    The antes are raised nicely in MI4, with the Kremlin blown up, the US Defense Secretary killed (played by major actor Tom Wilkinson, making the death even more surprising, and all-out nuclear war at stake between the US and Russia.  This had an appealing retro flavor, and was refreshing in view of so many Islamic terrorists in movies and on television.

The MI slight-of-hand devices and impersonations were also in fine display - with a projector that makes the guard think he's looking at a far wall with no one in the room, even though Ethan and Benji are actually walking right by the guard into the guarded room - and a cool double feint in which the team splits up and fools two of the villain groups at the same time, keeping in touch via the comm at their disposal.  

As in all the MI stories, there are a couple of escapes that fall a little short of believability - Brandt's survival in the wind tunnel or whatever that was is the one that most comes to mind.  But these were balanced by the MI plans and strategies which don't work out - including failure to stop the launch of the Russian nuclear warhead toward the US - which gives the movie a good smack-in-the-face plausibility.

And the acting, including and especially Tom Cruise as Ethan, was excellent.  Jane (Paula Patton) and Sabine (Léa Seydoux) were both dangerous in different ways and good to look at.   The team - which was ghosted or put into non-existence when wrongly held responsible for the Kremlin bombing - accomplishes its mission in the end, and will clearly be back, as Ethan's new team, for another romp, I hope not too far in the future.


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