MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL (Brad Bird, 2011)
GHOST PROTOCOL is the fourth installment in the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE franchise, the franchise that solidified Tom Cruise's image as an action star. Brad Bird directs (you might remember him as the guy who directed the Pixar animated movie THE INCREDIBLES) while J.J. Abrams takes a back seat as a producer this time. Almost nothing has been carried over from the previous film, except Simon Pegg's character Benji Dunn, who gets equal screen time here as that of Tom Cruise. That is one of the great things about GHOST PROTOCOL: the four leads get equal importance in the story. No one of the four gets used as a tool, like what happened to Pegg at M:I-3, or that Australian guy in M:I-2. Which makes you wonder, what ever happened to Luther (Ving Rhames)?
The fourth M:I works because it retains the elements we've loved from the first film (directed by Brian De Palma)- the deception, the edge-of-your-seat missions (remember Ethan Hunt dangling from the ceiling to avoid tripping off thermal sensors at the CIA headquarters? Well it has a counterpart scene here, taking place in the tallest building in the world located in Dubai), and yes, the theme originally composed by Lalo Schifrin (which people all over the world are familiar with).
At the same time, the script is injected with truckloads of humor, mostly supplied by Pegg's character Benji, and yet Benji does not function as a clown alone; he actually gets the job done, and in fashion.
The fight scenes are better choreographed than the previous film, Paula Patton as IMF operative Jane Carter works well with the big boys, and fits in without being objectified (if she indeed was, objectified it was done for fun) and a very clever addition, Jeremy Renner as William Brandt, an IMF analyst with a secret puts the cherry on top. He balances the spotlight so that everything is not about Ethan Hunt.
And oh look there's that guy from THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (not the David Fincher one) and better yet, there's President Hassan! (Non-fans of 24 will not relate to this reference.)
Female assassins get sexier as time goes by. In this instance, the mentioned role is portrayed by 26-year old French actress Lea Seydoux, who is equally seductive and dangerous as Sabine Moreau, one of the film's villains.
This is a film where you can actually sit back and enjoy without the guilt. There's a twist in the ending and a throwback to M:I-3 (boo-hoo for you if you haven't seen the third film) which is a very neat element because it grounds the story in reality (I'm avoiding the spoiler as much as I can).
Then again, no matter the situation, it should always (and this is an element in action movies that never gets old) be the lead actor (or actress) who kills the bad guy. Pegg doesn't kill the mastermind. Patton doesn't kill the mastermind. Renner doesn't kill the mastermind. It's always Tom Cruise. Action cliche.
Apple ought to be having a victory party for the amount of screen time they got in this movie.