Director: Brad Bird
Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Vladimir Mashkov
Plot: The President disavows the IMF after a botched mission results in the destruction of the Kremlin. Ethan Hunt and his team have to find the man responsible and clear their organization's name.
Review: Who would have thought that Brad Bird, director of animated films like The Incredibles and The Iron Giant, could be capable of helming such an adrenalin pumping M:I instalment? Believe it or not, he does so with great skill.
Every M:I film always manages to trump the previous one in terms of elaborate stunts and action set pieces. For this film, Bird ups the ante with some extremely well choreographed action sequences. We have a chase sequence in a sandstorm, a prison break, a fight within a moving car park (my favorite one of all) and a breathtaking climb outside the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world (which no doubt you have seen in the trailers).
But that's just the action sequences. Bird includes some more new nifty gadgets (which is the trademark of these films as you know) like a car with a computer map on its windshield, a contact lens that identifies faces and an invisible wall. I gotta tell ya, Bird spared no expense or effort for this instalment and it shows.
The cast perform splendidly, Cruise being his usual heroic daredevil self. Patton and Pegg provide good support, the former as the sex appeal and the latter as the comic relief. Jeremy Renner makes his presence felt as the analyst with a secret, and it is nice to know that it is he, and not Cruise, that is tasked with the personal baggage this time around. J.J. Abrams piled all of that on Cruise in the third film, and I always hated that. Another good thing is Cruise not making this film HIS show in its climax, which is what he usually did previously.
Michael Nyqvist plays the villain here, and he is rather low key compared to the previous films' villains, which actually works in his favour as it makes him more mysterious. Lost's Josh Holloway has a minor role, it's unfortunate that his screen time is very limited. I think he would have been great for this franchise.
My only complaint would be the fact that some characters seem impervious to injury, especially after being thrown around, falling from a high place or being in a car crash etc. I know it's Mission: Impossible, but some realism would be appreciated here.
In conclusion, Brad Bird has done the impossible (no pun intended) by cutting out the flab and making the franchise exciting again. Ghost Protocol might be running long at 133 minutes, but you don't feel it at all. It's nonstop action all the way here, and an excellent way to end 2011. (4.5/5)