Before anyone asks, yes I did see it in the IMAX format and yes I did see the Dark Knight Rises prologue. I’ll have a little editorial about that up in a little while. But this entry is specifically about MI4.
Let me start out by saying that I enjoyed this entry far more than any of the other films in the series. I guess number three comes closest. I think that the direction Abrams took the franchise and the followup work done by Brad Bird here on the fourth film is closer in line with my sensibilities than the first or second installments. I liked the first Mission Impossible and still regard it as a solid action/thriller. The second one kinda flew off the rails. I don’t hate it the way some folks do but I don’t think that it really worked. Part three was a damn good movie, and though JJ Abrams directing was a little shaky it did an admirable job of getting the series back on the right track.
Ghost Protocol shifts a little bit in style but retains much of JJ Abrams sensibility. Not surprising considering he stayed on as a producer. The film still hinges on the team-based operations that were jettisoned in MI2 and brought back to the forefront in part three. This time around we get much more of scene stealing Simon Pegg, as well as the added bonus of Paula Patton who looks a lot like Rashida Jones and I think my feelings on her are pretty well documented, and Jeremy Renner coming in and doing a bang-up job all around. Based on the trailers and online speculation I was prepared not to like Renner’s inclusion and was fearing that his purpose would be utterly cliche but the film wisely avoids all of that and instead works on molding him into the dynamic in a way that doesn’t feel forced. He adds something different to the group much in the way that Cruise, Pegg, and Patton do. They all have distinct character traits and each serves a function. I rather enjoyed that.
I have to say that never once was I bothered by Tom Cruise. Every once in a while in a film he’ll do something that completely takes me out of the moment and ruins the effect. Here he does a good job of reminding people why he rose to prominence as a leading man in the film industry in the first place. Despite all of his faults, he can hold a film together quite well and this is definitely a return to form for him. It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed one of his movies so this was a nice change of pace in that regard.
The real star of the film however is Brad Bird, who has an eye for shooting action scenes unlike any other working director. His sense of direction doesn’t have the limited scope of his peers due to his long-standing work in the animation field. This being his first time working in live action I would have been prepared to overlook any sense of awkwardness he may have had behind the camera but he really knocked it out of the park. The only sequence I will question his judgement on was the chase through Dubai set during a sandstorm. In theory it seems like a cool idea but on camera you can’t really see too much and the kinetic energy of the moment gets lost in the confusion. That minor gripe aside, the film is spectacularly framed and a beauty to behold on an IMAX screen.
I would say this is probably your best bet for a good time in the theaters this December. Tintin looks promising but could swing either way and I doubt people will be seeing Dragon Tattoo for a lark. Best to slap down some money for this and enjoy yourself with a big fat grin on your face.