Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

BEN ELLIOTT throws his popcorn in the air to salute the most blockbusting blockbuster of the year.

action ben elliott brad bird dubai Film kremlin mission impossible mission impossible - ghost protocol paula patton popcorn sequel simon pegg Tom Cruise

Directed by Brad Bird

[Rating: 4/5]

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol sees Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team go underground after being implicated in a terrorist attack on the Kremlin.

With human civilisation on the brink of nuclear annihilation, the team races to stop the true attackers before their grand plan can reach fruition. Simon Pegg picks up where he left off as lovable tech specialist Benji Dunn, while series newcomers Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton also hop along for the 133 minute ride.

As may be expected from such a long-running franchise, the film is certainly flawed: this fourth installment lacks the brain-puréeing twists and turns of the first. Patton’s character is often reduced to a piece of curvaceous bad-guy-distraction fodder, while Renner feels woefully underused.

Yet such weaknesses can be overlooked in the face of a perfect example of what makes popcorn thrillers so broadly appealing. From start to finish, Ghost Protocol is an explosive blend of perfect pacing, ‘want one!’ gadgetry, refreshingly genuine human interaction and extravagant set pieces. It is through the latter that Pixar virtuoso Brad Bird’s years in animation shine through, as he takes the helm for the first time on a live action movie.

During a gripping Dubai-based sandstorm chase and a potentially iconic scene in which Cruise scales the Burj Khalifa (the vertigo-inducing memory of which will probably remain with me forever), not a frame seems wasted, with Bird deftly elevating the audience’s adrenaline levels at every turn. Despite the connotations tailing such highly numbered sequels, the fourth M:I film is far from stale, with a new-found sense of humour, unfamiliar faces and a raft of new ideas to take the series in a new direction.

Much like its very much middle-aged star, the M:I franchise still shows astoundingly few signs of aging. Although this sequel is  unashamedly shallower than the original, the raw entertainment value and intensely memorable set pieces make Ghost Protocol a natural progression for the crowd-pleasing series.