Based upon the 1960’s TV series of the same name, the modern day Mission: Impossible films have gained popularity due to their content of daring stunts, high-tech gadgets and countless scenes of Tom Cruise running from explosions. 2012 sees the fourth entry in the franchise, with Cruise returning to acting and producing duties (minus his producing partner, Paula Wagner, who had helped with the previous three films under their crazily imaginative company name of ‘Cruise/Wagner Productions’).
After an explosion that destroys a large part of the Moscow Kremlin is wrongly pinned on the IMF (Impossible Missions Force), Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his team of highly skilled agents (Simon Pegg reprises his role as Benji the computer expert, Paula Patton is brought into the mix as Agent Jane Carter and soon to be ‘Bourne’ Jeremy Renner completes the group as the Secretary’s Analyst with a history) are disavowed and stripped of any back up and equipment. This means they must go it alone in their mission to track down and stop a person of interest that goes by the name of Hendricks , who has gained access to Russian nuclear launch codes, and has every intention of using them on the US. Their lack of help proves to be costly, and many scenarios result in them having to use their intellect, brute force and magnetic gloves to accomplish their task. With such a small arsenal against a man who has the potential to create a nuclear war, is this mission finally impossible for the IMF?
The plot sounds like it’s been directly lifted from a generic 80’s action flick, and, quite frankly, it plays out like it too. The originality of the narrative is almost non-existent – it’s a scenario that feels like we’ve seen countless times before. That can be forgiven though, because in a movie like this, the plot isn’t the numero uno important point: the action matters. Fortunately, MI4 features some of the most awe inspiring stunt work ever committed to celluloid. ‘That Dubai stunt’ is just as impressive as you’ve heard, and without a doubt is the most entertaining segment of the film.
Cruise slips back into Hunt mode with ease, and whilst he’s looking his age, he certainly isn’t showing it. The aforementioned stunt, where his character scales one of the tallest buildings in the world, was undertaken by him, as opposed to the more traditional (and safer) approach of a stunt man. And those who specifically watched the film to see his infamous sprinting will not be disappointed; explosions, sandstorms and even trains are no match for his muscular legs. Pegg provides the comic relief, although it’s no where near as frequent or effective as it should have (and has) been in the past. Patton is the feisty female agent who, surprisingly, isn’t the love interest to Ethan. In fact, there’s barely any romance in the story at all, which is a welcome change. Renner impresses as the Analyst abruptly thrown into the field, and if this performance is anything to go by, is a worthy replacement of Matt Damon in the upcoming Bourne Legacy. A threatening villain is what MI4 severely lacks, and the focus is on the scenario rather than the character who intends to cause it. Michael Nyqvist, a man with a surname I’ll never be able to pronounce, plays Hendricks, but we don’t see enough of him to believe that he is Hendricks. He could be one of the nameless American tourists who were at the Moscow bombing at the start of the film for all we care.
Nonetheless, the thought of nuclear war is scary enough, and this film will be remembered for, if anything, the Dubai scenes. And rightfully so; Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol probably won’t be the most enjoyable film you’ll see all year, and the 133 minute runtime occasionally feels every bit as long as it sounds, and the gadgets are at times laughably far fetched, but those stunts are without a doubt one of a kind.