Ghost Protocol is over two hours of action that doesn’t forget the importance of pacing and guile.
This time around the team is forced to operate independently after their organization is implicated in a terrorist plot, and they must work undercover to foil the plans of a madman that wants to spark global nuclear war. Not having access to their usual resources leads to ever changing scenarios as they are forced to adapt previous plans at the last minute as unexpected details surface. This creates a welcome feeling of tension when you can practically see the threads of their slipshod operation coming apart before your eyes, and the film is certainly not afraid of letting their plans fail.
Tom Cruise once again takes on the role of Ethan Hunt. He’s clever and courageous if ultimately less interesting as a result of becoming such a familiar character. Simon Pegg returns as lovable Benji, who manages to be both infinitely useful and wildly incompetent. Paula Patton (Precious) makes a fine addition to the cast as Agent Jane and Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) joins in later on as the always indecisive analyst.
Brad Bird is the latest director to take the reins of the Mission Impossible series and has easily made the best entry so far. Known for his work with The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, Bird’s affinity for action in animation transitions smoothly to the live action scene. Dialog is both informative and entertaining, the locations are beautiful and well used, and the combat is visceral while remaining brief. Ghost Protocol is excellently paced and entertaining to the point where I was shocked to later find that the movie was over two hours long.
I can’t emphasize that bit about brevity enough. It has become far to common lately for films to feature extravagantly long chase scenes that flow into fight scenes and back again without ever taking a moment to catch their breath and contextualize the events. Everything becomes a white noise when the stakes aren’t clear in films such as Sucker Punch and the audience might as well just skip to the end of the scene to see who wins so that they can start caring again.
It is precisely because the audience comprehends the meaning of events that every Ghost Protocol scene in Dubai is made of solid gold. Even on a second viewing it remains captivating to follow all of the details involved the team’s operation in Dubai’s staggeringly tall Burj Khalifa building. They attempt to simultaneously fool two parties with fake meetings in order to deal with both an assassin and a dangerous man seeking nuclear launch codes. Complications lead to the now famous scene that involves dangling Tom Cruse over 100 floors above the ground. The scene becomes hard to watch for all the right reasons.