Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Lowdown: Tom Cruise & Co look for excuses to perform highly improbable action scenes. 
By now you'd be excused for not knowing Mission: Impossible once stood for a TV series. I know, because even I am too young to remember that one. No, for the majority of us MI stands for a series of Tom Cruise films. The question, however, is whether this series of films needed a fourth episode. As in, the first was a 1996 Brian De Palma creation that may have not knocked me off my seat but genuinely managed to produce some iconic scenes. I'm talking, of course, of Cruise quietly dangling off a wire as he raids a safe. Then (2000) came the utterly different second MI movie, a movie that marked John Woo's official entry into Hollywood. 
But then (2006) came the third MI movie. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't anything special, either; it was just another extreme, special effects laden, action movie. I reckoned that would be the end of it, but obviously Cruise disagreed with me. Thus 15 years after the first in the series, he chose to come back for a fourth episode: Ghost Protocol. An episode that is sadly more like the third than the first two. 
I can provide you with an outline of the plot, but seriously - this is all about giving Cruise and his mates an opportunity to perform high risk stunts. This time the excuse is the prevention of a nuclear holocaust, and this time Cruise's team is joined by Jeremy Renner, but that is pretty much it as far as innovation is concerned. We start off with a major jail break in Russia, move on to a heist at the Red Square, continue with Cruise climbing Dubai's tallest building in the world (the Burj Khalifa) armed only with special gloves, and climax in an Indian caper. It's all very James Bond like, very posh. It's all very artificial. Yet it is still exciting, in that cheap kind of way. 
If there is a lesson to take home from Ghost Protocol, it's to do with covert activities not making sense. They don't make sense because the plot never even tries to make sense; they don't make because, in hindsight, none of the activities Cruise & Co embark upon actually amount to promote the cause of humanity; and, last but not least, it is Cruise's own actions that supply the baddies with the ammunition that brings the whole planet to near cataclysm at this movie's climax. Perhaps Ghost Protocol was meant to act as a warning against espionage services, like the NSA, running unchecked? I sort of doubt it. 
Best scene: There is a scene where Cruise's team impersonates the baddies to meet two groups of them at the same time, with one meeting affecting the other in real time. There is high potential for artistic cinema with this one, and granted - the scene is well made. However, it is definitely not Brian De Palma grade; De Plama would have clearly created another iconic scene out of this one, whereas Ghost Protocol's is doomed to be forgotten. 
Overall: I did not suffer watching Ghost Protocol, but I could not ignore the total absence of depth either. 2.5 out of 5 crabs.

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