Review for Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Things are bad if you have to break a disavowed IMF agent out of a Russian prison, to track down stolen Russian nuclear launch codes, even if that agent is Ethan Hunt. But things are about to get a whole lot worse, when a Russian launch device is stolen, the Kremlin is bombed to cover the theft, and the blame falls on Ethan Hunt’s team. Now the US president has invoked Ghost Protocol, disavowing the whole of the IMF organisation. The only people who have a chance at preventing a nuclear war are Ethan Hunt and his team, Benji Dunn, Jane Carter, and analyst William Brandt, and they have to do it without any help, and while being hunted as terrorists.
It’s a very agreeable 2.40:1 widescreen transfer, clear and sharp, with strong consistent colours, and no problems with compression, aliasing or digital banding, not even during the sandstorm sequence where even a Blu-ray might be tempted to throw up its hands and surrender. Ghost Protocol looks fantastic, with some very visual globe-trotting, fabulous sets and locations, and some rather nifty spy-tech. I also like a film that shows a hi-tech glam India, instead of the usual slums and beggars India. However, all isn’t perfect, with black crush an obvious issue (most noticeable in the limo with the Secretary), and with the usual orange and teal colour scheme that is obligatory for the modern action movie.
You finally get lossless audio with a Mission Impossible movie, and this one really does make full use of the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Surround English track, delivering some thumping action, and immersing you right in the midst of the mayhem, once again reworking that iconic theme, and keeping the dialogue audible as well. Note that the film relies on player generated subtitles to translate the non-English dialogue. You also have the choice of DD 5.1 Surround Spanish, French, and Italian, as well as an English audio descriptive track. There are subtitles in these languages and Dutch.
Apparently there was a two disc release for Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol, at least in the US, but the single disc release merely has a taste of what was available on disc 2 of that limited edition.
There are two featurettes in Mission Accepted running to 29:38, Heating Up in Dubai, and Vancouver Fisticuffs.
Impossible Missions takes you behind the scenes of The Sandstorm, and Props, two featurettes that run to 6:13.
Finally we get 3 of the Deleted Scenes running to 5:12, with optional commentary from director Brad Bird.
I heard in one of the featurettes in this collection, that each of the Mission Impossible films are meant to be standalone, both in terms of story, and in terms of style, so that you can jump in with any of the films and not feel lost or as if you’re missing out. That is certainly true when it comes to story, and with the first three films, you had distinctly different directorial styles, Brian De Palma’s wit and intelligence, John Woo’s intense action style and visual panache, and J.J. Abrams solid grasp of action, somewhat looser storytelling, and lens flares. With Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, there’s something of a break from that standalone ethos. Certainly there are elements in this story, a back-story regarding Ethan and Julia, which refer to and build upon the previous film. Also, in terms of directorial style, while Brad Bird is at the reins, this still feels like an Abrams film, unsurprising given that it’s made under the aegis of his Bad Robot production company.
That’s all for the good, as Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is an entertaining spy thriller, full of action and wit, with as much of an eye to character as to plot. The Julia link from the third film informs the back-story of the new addition to the team, William Brandt, and allows for some of the interpersonal drama that makes the story interesting. On the other hand, the Jane Carter character is carrying a grudge from the pre-credits sequence, which saw one of her team members assassinated. Benji Dunn on the other hand keeps the tone light and adds some well-judged humour to the plot, and of course there is the Ethan Hunt intensity at the heart of the team.
It was inevitable that we’d get a nuclear war threat in a Mission Impossible movie; that’s the bread and butter of the spy film, and it’s surprising that it took as long as the fourth movie for the Mission Impossible team to have to stave off nuclear Armageddon. Of course with this being the post-Cold War era, they have to create a villain who could justify starting a nuclear war, and only someone totally crazy would do that, right? Hendricks has seen the cycle of extinction and rebirth in the planet’s geological history, and has decided that in a human history spent mostly at war, the radioactive wasteland post-atomic war would actually be comparatively peaceful. It doesn’t make a lot of sense written down, but it works just fine to get the film in motion, and keep the tension taut and exciting. It doesn’t matter that the villain is fairly non-descript, lacking in charisma or screen presence, as the nuclear threat makes for sufficient motivation for the heroes.
If one thing becomes clear with Ghost Protocol, it’s that Mission Impossible has inherited the mantle of the classic Bond movies, with epic action sequences (the sandstorm chase is stunning), fantastic gadgetry, and a tongue-in-cheek wit, the latter of which has been absent from the Daniel Craig Bond movies. All that’s missing is a little casual misogyny, and Mission Impossible gets on fine without that. More importantly, it’s unrelenting fun, which in an age where spy movies tend to the dark and gritty, is a breath of fresh air.