"Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" may not do the impossible, but it certainly does the highly unlikely: not only is the fourth film in the series one of the most highly entertaining films of the last year or two, it's a significant improvement over all three of the prior sequels (which weren't bad to begin with.)
The picture sees "Incredibles" director Brad Bird behind the camera for his first live-action picture and the result is an action move that is not only densely packed with action but with significantly detailed and well-crafted stuntwork.
Tom Cruise returns as agent Ethan Hunt, and what's particularly enjoyable is the somewhat tweaked take on the character - there's a few wink-wink nudge-nudge moments and a view that the character's not indestructible. Gadgets occasionally don't work entirely as planned. There's a final moment towards the end of a stunning scene on the Burj Khalifa in Dubai that's unexpected, brutal and remarkably tense. The idea that Ethan Hunt is not a superhero results in a picture that's notably more compelling as a result of that choice.
The film sees Ethan and hacker Benji (Simon Pegg), agent Jane (Paula Patton), and analyst Brandt (Jeremy Renner) cut off from any sort of support after they are blamed for the bombing of the Kremlin. They escape to Dubai and elsewhere, but are hunted down by a Russian police agent as they search for Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), a madman who has stolen Russian nuke codes and seeks to start a war.
The picture feels initially a little like overload, but I found myself appreciating it more and more after the initial viewing. The scene in Dubai alone is one of the most remarkable action sequences in years, going from a stunning sequence on the outside of the tower to an intense sequence on the streets in the middle of a sandstorm. Still, there's much more before the credits roll, including a terrific fight sequence in a robotic parking garage.
The performances are terrific, with Cruise giving his most enjoyable effort yet in the role. He's backed by enjoyable performances from Pegg, Renner and Patton. All three make a great impression, and hopefully all three will return in the next picture. I'd also like to suggest director Brad Bird be brought back, as the director shows an astonishing level of skill with action in his live-action debut.
While I was a little skeptical of extending the franchise, "Ghost Protocol" not only revitalizes the series, but brings the franchise to a higher level that has me excited for the next sequel.
VIDEO: "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" is presented by Paramount in 2.40:1 (1080p) and the result is a dazzling delight. The presentation appears rock-solid throughout the proceedings, with marvelous sharpness and detail - fine details are crisp and clearly visible throughout. No edge enhancement, pixelation or print flaws were spotted. Colors remained bright and punchy, with excellent saturation and no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio is a powerhouse, with aggressive, precise use of the surrounds to throw the viewer into the film's large-scale action sequences. Audio quality is stellar, with deep, bassy effects and crisp, well-recorded dialogue.
EXTRAS: "Suiting Up in Prague", "Heating up in Dubai" and "Vancouver Fisticuffs" are three docs that provide a very nice look at various aspects of the production. Not a high level of replay value, but otherwise a nicely done trio of documentaries. Another section of documentary footage is broken into 11 smaller pieces, including looking at filming in IMAX and the sandstorm sequence, among other aspects. Finally, we also get a series of deleted scenes with optional commentary and trailers.
Final Thoughts: Tremendously entertaining and marvelously crafted, "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" is the best film in the series and one of the most entertaining films I've seen in a couple of years. It's an amazing live-action debut for director Brad Bird. The Blu-Ray offers terrific audio/video quality, as well as a nice set of extras. Highly recommended.
The Film A