Brad Bird and an acting ensemble led by Tom Cruise effortlessly accomplish the mission of pleasing their audiences.
Greed is the catalyst that produces redundancy; which plagues many big-budgeted Hollywood productions. It is easier for the studio to contract a writer to continue an already established franchise, than to come-up with an original concept. However the right director with motivated crew and actors/actresses can make a sequel worthwhile. Paramount Pictures has not re-set the creative bar lately, but they have distributed the year’s most stylish and well-executed release. M:I-Ghost Protocol will not squeeze its way into the Best Picture and Best Director categories for the 84th Academy Awards Ceremony, but it has solidified Brad Bird as a force to be recognized. The director of The Incredibles and Ratatouille makes his live-action directorial debut in a manner that seems as though he has had decades of experience. In the manner of this year’s Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, the fourth Ethan Hunt outing is fast paced and tells a great abundance without feeling forced and skimping on character development. I will spare you the basic plot synopsis: if you have seen the trailer you already know the set-up.
The film opens with an intriguing and well-photographed foot chase, but before that moviegoers are treated to Paramount Picture’s new and certainly improved company logo. No better way than to commemorate 100 years of movie production than displaying mogul and studio founder Adolph Zukor’s ultimate goal: To entertain audiences. The film does not require viewing of the three previous films to grasp the plot, and even the great effort from J.J Abrams on Mission: Impossible III cannot compare to what Brad Bird has accomplished. The movie is Hollywood-ish in its ambitions but all of the large-scale action sequences are grounded in reality as much as possible. Most likely audiences have seen the trailers and T.V Spots that showcase Tom Cruise scaling the world’s tallest building in Dubai. This scene and a few others are a true testament to in-camera effects and traditional stunt work. In regards to the latter movie's technique, Academy members that see this move should reminisce on previous films where stunt work was one of the stars of the film. Stunt men/women and actors that perform these feats for a few seconds of entertainment are surely due for a golden statue. There was once an Oscar for best title design: nuff said.
One of my fellow serviceman (an enlisted Airforce member) said that one of the problems that he had with J.J Abrams’ take on the series was that the villain was not physically intimidating; despite being well played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Michael Nyqvist (the film’s main antagonist) may not have the physique of a 30-year-old Sylvester Stallone, but the end action sequence will show audiences that a man hell-bent on changing history and society will get a few kicks and punches in on a still physically fit 49 year old Tom Cruise. Paula Patton and Simon Pegg are exceptional, especially the effortless comic relief from the latter. But it is Jeremy Renner whom steals most of the scenes from an on point Cruise. Renner’s character is tormented by guilt that is connected to the Ethan Hunt character. Although it is only rumored that Renner will be the frontrunner for upcoming Mission Impossible movies, he has shown here and with The Hurt Locker and The Town that he is not a fad that is going to fade away anytime soon. Not bad for a guy that was once a struggling actor that did not have lights in his one bedroom apartment for 8 months.
Brad Bird’s decision to shoot on 70mm IMAX film was not simply the result of jumping on the Christopher Nolan and Wally Pfister bandwagon. In an interview with the U.K magazine “Empire”, Bird was quoted saying: “If your star is climbing up a building for real, you kinda have to show it”. Robert Elswit’s 35mm shots match the 70mm shots with parallel clarity, tracking shots, and color exposure. Only Robert Richard’s work on Martin Scorsese’s Hugo and Emmanuel Lubezki’s photography of The Tree of Life has a shot at beating Elswit for best cinematography.
Bird’s next project will be based on James Dalessandro’s 1906, which gives an epic account of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Warner Bros. and Walt Disney are splitting the $200 million dollar budget.
Mission-Impossible: Ghost Protocol- B+