Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is straight forward action from beginning to end. In fact, it is very much like The Adventures of Tintin and I like them both for the same reason: simplicity. The good guys are good and the bad guys must be stopped. There’s a job to do and our heroes get it done. The focus is on the method not the motive.

I also appreciate that Ghost Protocol lacks the meanness of many action movies. Sure the generic bad guy wants to detonate a nuclear bomb and start Armageddon. But that’s general evil, not personal sadism. As much as I liked Daniel Craig’s reboot of Bond, watching him stripped naked getting his balls kicked wasn’t exactly escapism.

Ghost Protocol also succeeds in taking itself not too seriously. For example, thanks to face recognition software there’s now apparently an app for identifying assassins. The only downside is that while you’re looking at your phone to see why it’s alerted you, the assassin has time to walk right up to you and kill you. Ah, the dangers of contemporary life; walking around looking at your phone oblivious to the world in front of you. In fact, Ghost Protocol has quite a few amusing instances of user experience design failure. I’d certainly have words with whomever designed a lock on a train car that can be opened only with a retinal scan. Director Brad Bird has a lot of fun with all the gadgets but also seems to be reminding us that we can’t rely too heavily on them. In the end, we must depend on our courage and wit.

Simon Pegg, as computer geek turned newly minted field agent, also balances Tom Cruise’s one-note intentness. Jeremy Renner is interesting as the analyst that becomes part of the team when things go dark. After an improbable escape he can’t help but ask the questions the whole audience is thinking, “What made you think that would work?” The only weak link in the cast, for me, was Paula Patton. Her character was competent but she didn’t bring anything special to the team; she wasn’t quite at their level. She seemed merely to be the “female team member”, stuck in for diversity. However, what I really like about Ghost Protocol is that we don’t get bogged down with character backstory or motivation. It’s simple, clean action from beginning to end.

Finally. Kudos to Tom Cruise for the skyscraper stunt.

Bottom Line: Recommended

Thrills. No frills.

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