Mission Impossible 4 (2011) – Film Review
by Nate Wisniewski
Anyone who doesn’t know what to expect from Mission Impossible 4 before they enter the cinema, certainly will after the first minutes of the film. Right from the off, token bad guys chase an IMF agent (the secret government agency Tom Cruise’s main character works for). Moments later, the agent escapes, thanks to some ludicrous gadgetry and aim so awful you might wrongly assume the sequence is a training exercise with blanks. It’s ridiculous. But, perhaps, one of the most honest introductions to a film you could hope for.
There are no false pretences in the fourth instalment of the Mission Impossible franchise. This is a film that revels in, and celebrates, its own absurdity. And if you can turn off any logical analysis of the plot, you’ll soon find yourself doing much the same. A few fights and an escape from prison later, Ethan (Cruise) declares, “you can hit the fuse now.” The infamous theme music launches us into a slick looking credit sequence. And we’re off…
And then we see what is always going to be one of the major challenges Ghost Protocol faces. What to do with all that unfortunate narrative and plot stuff that comes between the action? Unlike terrible recent examples of its genre (anything involving Jason Statham in the past few years), it doesn’t try to get along without them. Ghost Protocol might not have the most dynamic plot you’ll see, but it paces itself well. A light comedy touch is on offer, with Simon Pegg in for the role. Unfortunately, the few gems that Pegg gets aren’t enough to satiate any real hunger in that department. It is entertainment at its lightest. In fact, in comedy terms it’s probably 99% fat free.
No mistake, this is not a film in which the plot, or any of the characters, are particularly engaging in any real emotional way. It doesn’t matter: it’s just not that type of film. And the characters are likeable enough for it to be a success. In fact, it’s great fun. We just don’t care about minor characters when they die. That the scene in question happens within the first 30 minutes of the film raises further questions. It almost feels like the film is parodying its own genre. If it is, then in this instance it doesn’t quite work.
But let’s face it, that’s not why we’re watching Ghost Protocol. We come for action. And the action scenes are superb. In particular the scene in Dubai, involving a certain Mr. Cruise and Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Once again out to impress (when is he ever not?), he certainly wins us over. And so does director Brad Bird, who handles the action superbly. Impressively, despite the fact that the Dubai scene comes mid-way through the film, the intensity of the film continues to build to a fun climax worthy of the preceding action.
Throw gadgets into this mix (not any old gadgets mind you, but otherworldly, ten-year-old-boy-dream gadgets) and you’ve got a family fun film that does exactly what it says on the tin. But watch out: this tin will self destruct in five seconds…