Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol : Film Review
3 stars out of 5 (Good)
Director : Brad Bird
English , 2011
There were multiple reasons which necessitated a viewing of this pic - an important one for me was to see how well a switch to the live-action genre would be made by director Brad Bird who helmed that exquisite masterpiece 'Ratatouille' . The thrill-generating pedigree of the "Mission Impossible" series was another excuse to catch this show. Exciting promos of the film helped even more.
Budapest -Moscow-Dubai-Mumbai : These are the loci which the film uses to course through its plot. Excellent aerial shots of the first city and then a swoop onto the terrace of a building starts the action - a man blasts open the terrace door and sprints away from his pursuers. This whole sequence is a superbly snappy start to the movie. The man, along with Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), belongs to IMF - Impossible Mission Force, a self-explanatory agency whose highly trained intelligence-’n’-combat agents repair the damage done by the US government.
Proceedings are jacked up to a higher level when the action shifts to Moscow - Ethan Hunt and his team have to infiltrate the archives room of the Kremlin in order to get more info on Hendricks, a Swedish-born Russian scientist with an IQ of 190, expelled from government service for being crazy. Having reached his conclusions from history, Hendricks now wants to start a nuclear war and total wipe-out of the Earth’s denizens, to ensure the survival of the fittest (a plan which brings his holistic IQ into severe question). Inside the Kremlin, we see a vision-bewitching "screen" used by Ethan to fox the guards - this fascinating device would be right at home in a Harry Potter movie! The mission however goes haywire, and we see some truly earth-shaking imagery as the hero runs for dear life. Events bleed into further disaster when more good guys are killed by the mercilessly aggressive enemy. IMF is now down to just 4 agents ; the agency has been dismantled ("Ghost Protocol’) by the US government and its remaining members are allowed to escape. Officially they are " rogue " and off-record they have to urgently clear their names.
We are introduced to new-age espionage - contact lenses with built-in cameras, and suitcases which print out documents into their interiors as per incoming messages, when the action shifts to Dubai. A crucial meeting is scheduled to happen in Burj Khalifa - that supreme building which ranks as the world’s tallest man-made structure. The location and height is ably used by Ethan for impressively vertiginous stunts as he climbs up the building with sticky gloves in order to reach the server room and manipulate its controls. He also has a merry time blitzing down this tower. Tom Cruise to his considerable credit himself performed these feats without the use of a body double. After a welter of violent fist-'n'-leg fights, the thrills shift to a chase through a raging sand-storm . This becomes a novel device which shows off both the local climate’s might and the hero’s gadgets-'n'-resilience, as he uses a tracking device to follow his target through the opaque disorienting storm of sand.
Finally, as befits the place where many head to find the ultimate resolution in life, the film reaches India! The location may not be wholly auspicious - Mumbai where the plot has domiciled Brij Nath (Anil Kapoor), a maverick tycoon who has bought a defunct military satellite from Russia. Hendricks intends to use this to launch a nuclear missile into San Francisco (he could have chosen a less beautiful city to destroy) and thus start a nuclear war between two old friends - US and Russia. A futuristic car (BMW i8 concept car) glides into the entrance of the tycoon’s palatial home wherein suit-clad folks inhabit the same space as dancing entertainers. The inclusion of those dancing native lasses in the party is a foolishly stereotypical touch. And the overall finale in India is a let-down - yes, there’s frenetic action but there’s no triumph of fight-design in it. And a sign towards the end, is written in Telugu - which is not the local language of Mumbai.
I was eager to see what role Anil Kapoor would have in a Hollywood blockbuster- it turns out that he plays an oaf, a moneyed one. It is disappointing that he agreed to do this pathetic part created by the script. The paycheck and increased exposure to Hollywood folks would no doubt have been the chief persuasions. To worsen matters, far from getting any iota of tenderness, he only gets rude treatment from the "babe". As a significant set-back, the villain in this movie is by no means memorable .Since this is a hard-core action thriller, Tom Cruise (his total earnings from MI-2 was roughly $75 million) just has to look good and concentrate on rolling with the punches - this he does with panache. The "item"-value in the form of tall, bronzed and shapely Paula Patton does not fully come through - perhaps a European director would have asked for more. Cinematographer Robert Elswit who opts for shooting with film instead of digital cameras, to get more "texture and grain", adequately achieves those qualities here, along with a neat canvas to frame all the action. Brad Bird opted to film parts of the pic in IMAX, rather than 3D, for getting a brighter, clearer image - this especially shows in the Burj-Khalifa sequence.
Ultimately, 'Ghost Protocol' does not outclass its first two counterparts - Brian De Palma’s MI-1 which is a supreme example of a smart, elegant action picture, and John Woo’s MI-2 which showcased his distinctive brand of action choreography.
The hero’s troubles aside, I too had to contend with hostile factors during this viewing. A bunch of kids - spoilt, drunk or both, sat nearby chortling and giggling even when the screen showed a man being shot in the head or people dying - Hitler would have proud to train these early adolescents. I moved away only to sit closer to a screen which had a big smudge on it - this was concealed during colourful shots but not during lighter shades of canvas. As a dutiful "agent", I felt like terminating the theatre supervisor.
The highlights of this film are the brilliantly conceived Kremlin sequence, and the stunts-’n’-subterfuge in Burj Khalifa. The rest of the film has bones but not the sinew.
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