Saturday, December 17, 2011

Misson: Impossible Ghost Protocol

                There are few “four-quels” out there in the film industry.  There are fewer which I can say I saw on four different formats (VHS, drive-in movie theater, regular movie theater, IMAX).  But I doubt there are any others where the fourth in the series is the best of the bunch.
                Ethan Hunt (Cruise), shortly after being "released" from a Serbian prison, is given the task of stopping a madman from starting nuclear war between the USA and Russia.  On his team, the only IMF members remaining: the sexy, potential love interest (Paula Patton), the jokester utility man (Simon Pegg), and the agent-turned-desk occupier (Jeremy Renner).  Together, they must stop the destruction of mankind.  As cliché as the plot sounds, there are numerous twists that pop out of nowhere.  Pegg may be the best comedic sidekick in the movies today.  Patton is entirely capable of being the required tough yet feminine agent.  It is Renner, however, who is given the short straw.  His character is never really fully fleshed out as something other than the IMF secretary pushed into the limelight.
                But the real stars of the show are first-time live-action director Brad Bird and his visuals.  Bird showed the world seven years ago with “The Incredibles” that he can direct action with the best of them.  But he is nearly as talented with humans as he is with Apple computers.  The second act features one of the most delicate but tense & exciting action centerpieces in any movie I’ve ever seen.  The interception of codes in Dubai also features one of the most breathtaking action scenes ever created.  You will know it when you see it.
                However, there are times where you can tell this is Bird’s first live-action rodeo.  The most obvious spots are the quick cut, up close action shots.  Especially on the IMAX screen, the audience will have an extremely difficult time figuring out who is who on at least two occasions.  Also, the screenplay has a plot that could be 20-30 years old.  Nuclear war?  With Russia?  C’mon man!
                Finally, a warning.  First, let me say I love the Cinemark @ Pittsburgh Mills.  Wonderful place to watch a movie.  The IMAX theater there stinks.  It is way, way too loud in there.  I swear the floor shook at least 10 times and my wife’s ears are still ringing.  Also, it is too small.  Even if you sit in the back row, you still need to move your head from side to side in order to see the entire screen.  If IMAX is your choice, go to the more comfortable Waterfront instead.
                All that said, Ghost Protocol is an absolute blast.  Bird and Cruise are able to combine their talents to create this kinetic but very intelligent action flick.  This is the breath of fresh air that the U.S. box office needs.

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