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MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL

SYNOPSIS:
The entire IMF is shut down after it is falsely implicated in a bombing at the Kremlin, which signals the beginning of a plot to steal old Cold War nuclear codes and devices by the opportunistic Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), who plans to start a global nuclear war so he can 'start from zero'. This leaves Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his new team comprising English tech specialist Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), Agent Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and Brandt (Jermey Renner) with no protection and no backup. On their own, the team has to track down the deadly dangerous Hendricks and retrieve the elements that will enable him to launch a nuclear missile at America, and make it look like Russia has initiated nuclear Armageddon.

Review by Louise Keller:
The best Mission Impossible of them all, everything about this fourth film in the movie franchise is big with breathtaking, extravagant stunts and a thrilling, large scale plot to match. On the giant IMAX screen, we become totally immersed in the action - it's a bit like being swallowed up into the very fabric of the film and in some of the spectacular action sequences, I felt as though I should be wearing a seat belt. There's a nicely balanced mix of danger, thrills and humour in the sophisticated plot that zigzags its surprises in exotic locations with extreme elements. This is Tom Cruise, the Movie Star at his invincible best - performing impossible stunts, saving the world and avoiding being too earnest, while maintaining high tension all the way.

There are big explosions, daring escapes from teetering heights, an audacious infiltration of the Kremlin, a dust storm to navigate, a vicious girl catfight at high altitude and a death-defying nose dive in a multi-storey carpark. Highlight is the dizzying sequence in Dubai in which Cruise scales the exterior of world's tallest building relying on a pair of high-tech suction gloves to adhere himself to the mirrored, sheer façade. My stomach lurched as Ethan exits the floor of the 130 floor building and there is serious edge-of-seat tension as the colour indicator light on one of the gloves turns red. Benji, the team's techno-whiz, entertainingly played by Simon Pegg, who provides the film's comic relief, has earlier briefed Ethan Hunt (Cruise) of the functionality of the lights: 'Blue - glue; red - dead'.

The action pieces play out as part of the narrative with a plot involving an ever-changing mission that includes obtaining a missing file, finding nuclear launch codes, locating a satellite server and aborting a nuclear warhead after launch. The mission is without safety net: ghost protocol means the American Government will not support them, if caught. Apart from Benji, Ethan's team comprises Jeremy Renner as Brandt, an analyst with a dark secret and Denzel Washington's Déjà Vu girl Paula Patton as a field operative with her own personal score to settle. Michael Nyqvist plays the deadly villain, code-named Cobalt, intent on world destruction which he considers to be a necessary part of evolution.

All members of the team have their moment to shine: the scene in which Patton, dressed to kill in a stunning and revealing emerald gown shows her seduction skills at a lavish party in Mumbai, is very amusing. The film's screenplay is punctuated by its innovative ideas and set pieces, offering novel scenarios, not seen before. Rather than describe the context of the high-tech screen that replicates the background where it is placed or the silver suit that enables mid-air suspension, it's much more fun to discover where and how it plays out as part of the film's journey. I love the sequence in which two sets of events occur at precisely the same time (on different floors of the Dubai hotel) when a high-risk exchange takes place.

As an action movie, this is as good as it gets, and Tom Cruise shows that he still has what it takes to carry a movie of this magnitude. Brad Bird's direction - often with an unusual slant - takes the adventure to thrilling heights, while the unforgettable MI theme echoes the pounding in our hearts throughout the thrills.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Ghost Protocol is spook-speak for 'you guys don't exist, we don't exist and actually, if you're caught, we'll call you terrorists'. That's the bad news for Ethan Hunt (Cruise) delivered by the Secretary (Tom Wilkinson), after a bomb explodes inside the Kremlin and the evidence points to America. Hunt and the Secretary know that America was framed, and so do we.

But now comes the badder news: the explosion was the work of the power-mad Kurt Hendricks (Nyqvist) who plans to start a global nuclear war. This leaves Hunt and his new team comprising English tech specialist Benji Dunn (Pegg), Agent Jane Carter (Patton) and Brandt (Renner) with no protection and no backup.

On their own, the team has to track down the deadly dangerous Hendricks and retrieve the elements that will enable him to launch a nuclear missile at America, and make it look like Russia has initiated nuclear Armageddon.

In the ever-higher stakes demanded of big budget action movies, the Mission: Impossible franchise has had to leave behind the grounded reality of the original TV series and reach for larger and larger potential catastrophes that Ethan Hunt's team has to avert. In this fourth Mission, the writers have created a scenario in which Hendricks, a crazy but resourceful (and well funded) Swedish baddie - Nyqvist, great in the role - plans to wipe out mankind (except himself we presume) so he can start it over, with him at the helm.

This silly idea is rather sketchily outlined in the screenplay, but the film's focus is not Hendricks' plan but the mission and whether it succeeds.

Hunt's new team again includes a feisty female agent, in the formidable body of Agent Carter (Patton), who at one stage turns femme fatale in an effort to get a secret code out of the Indian billionaire playboy Brij Nath (Anil Kapoor).

The setting for this scene is a lavish party at Nath's palatial home in Mumbai, one of the exotic locations (exotic to Americans, anyway) where the film takes us. It starts in Budapest, with an aerial shot over the top of the city's majestic Parliament building before a backstreet assassination; the action moves to Moscow, and the iconic turrets of the Kremlin.

One of the most spectacular locations - and stunts - is set in Dubai, on the sides of the world's tallest building. Here, some 103 floors up, Hunt needs to break the window and fly-like climb up to 130 where the building's digital brain is housed, so they can take control of the lifts and other systems in their attempt to switch places so they can trick Hendrick's planned exchange of diamonds and for information.

To make the death defying trip up the glass walls, Hunt has to put on some newfangled long sleeved gloves that Binji (Pegg) has brought along just for such an occasion. It has a suction device - which everyone, especially Hunt, hopes will actually work.

The stunt (one of many in the film) is ferociously effective, as is the continuation of stunt in which Hunt has to return to the 130th floor - externally. I suspect cinema staff cleaning up after each session will have to be diligent to ensure incoming patrons have no reason for complaints.

All the iconic elements of the Mission: Impossible franchise, from the instantly recognisable musical motif to the tech and gadget-heavy modus operandi of the team are harnessed to the max in this high tension edition.
Published first in the Sun-Herald

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL (M)
(US, 2011)

CAST: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Josh Holloway, Lea Seydoux, Tom Wilkinson, Michael Nyqvist, Anil Kapoor

PRODUCER: J. J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Tom Cruise

DIRECTOR: Brad Bird

SCRIPT: Josh Applebaum, Andre Nemec, Christopher McQuarry (original TV series by Bruce Geller)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Elswit

EDITOR: Paul Hirsch

MUSIC: Michael Giacchino

PRODUCTION DESIGN: James D. Bissell

RUNNING TIME: 127 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 15, 2011







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