“Good morning Mr. Phelps.”
I have never been afraid to show my age, and anyone out there who “dares” to
remember those iconic first words spoken on a tape recorder by an unknown person from
a certain tv show of the late 60’s/early 70’s , shouldn’t either. In any case, you knew that
Peter Graves and the elite I.M. Force was about to embark on another perilous mission
where, in some cases, the fate of the world may have been at stake.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is a fine reminder of the excitement I used
to watch every week. Brad Bird trades in his animation directing skills for this live ac-
tion fourth episode in the franchise, where exotic locations from Red Square to India are
superbly showcased and exploited for maximum kinetic effect.
The energy is infectious from the opening scene in Budapest, then quickly mov-
ing to the Russian Kremlin where Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, Simon Pegg’s Benji Dunn
and newcomer agent Jane Carter, played impeccably by Paula Patton, must retrieve a
metal briefcase containing an important set of numbers-namely, launch codes. They must
get to it before Russian terrorist Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist) whose basic philoso-
phy about nuclear war is that it is part of the natural order of things. So, he feels it’s a-
bout time we had another one.
It’s unfortunate for our team that Hendricks is slightly one step ahead. He pulls
a brilliant fast one, resulting in an explosive destruction of the Kremlin and leaving E-
than and his cohorts holding the proverbial bag- while he escapes with the brief case.
Things only get worse afterwards as Ethan meets with the IMF secretary (Tom
Wilkinson) and his aide/analyst Brandt (Jeremy Renner) in a black sedan back in a dark
alley. Naturally, it’s a serious conversation concerning what happened at the Kremlin and
the president initiating something called Ghost Protocol; the disavowing of all IM Force
operatives. The meeting is apparently not as furtive as hoped. Their car is brutally at-
tacked in a barrage of gunfire killing the driver and the secretary before careening off a
bridge and into the water. Ethan and Brandt miraculously survive.
It gets even better as Hunt, Carter, Dunn and analyst Brandt find themselves on
the run and the only members left of the IM Force. However, there is a silver lining.
Prove their innocence by bringing in Kendricks and prevent him from starting World
War III. As Sir Anthony Hopkins remarked in MI 2, “Should be a walk in the park.”
Irrespective of global nuclear disaster, Bird melded with writers Josh Appelbaum
and Andre Nemec to inject a slight overuse of humor, courtesy of Pegg. There’s also a
funny homage to the original Mission Impossible’s self destroying message.
But the real impetus behind MI 4 is Cruise’s death defying scene on the world’s
tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. If you’re acutely acrophobic (like yours truly), even on
the big screen, looking down from this height will probably make you a bit squeamish.
Dunn and Brandt lighten this up a bit as both insist that they have to be inside while E-
than goes outside.
Like Zoe Saldana who kicked major butt in Colombiana, Paula Patton gets to
showcase her “action star” potential. Her agent Carter has only one hang up- revenge
against another woman who took something from her, thus maybe clouding her judge-
ment about the mission itself. The viscerally bone cracking girl fight she has with French
native actress Lea Seydoux is a perfect complement to Cruise’s tower engagement. She
also gets to combine these combat skills with her marked beauty and feminine wiles.
I admit I was disappointed with the first Mission Impossible because of it’s
shocking revelation of the traitor. However the others, and this one I consider the best,
are excellent, despite many people’s consistent dislike for Tom Cruise.
Los Angeles times film critic Kenneth Turan was right when, at the end of his
sterling review of Knight and Day, he said “It’s time to put Oprah’s couch in the closet
and leave it there.” May I also add at the end of this review, “Seems like we the public
have been jumping on that “couch” way longer than Cruise has. Let’s give Tom a break
and allow him to make movies again.”