“It may not be The Incredibles, but there is some fairly incredible stuff to be found in Mission: Impossible —Ghost Protocol, animation ace Brad Bird’s first live-action film and a good continuation of the now-16-year-old series. The impact of spectacular action on striking international locales is moderated somewhat by the repetitive nature of the challenges faced by this rebooted team of American agents trying to thwart a villain who believes that a nuclear winter would be in the natural order of things. With Tom Cruise in top form here and IMAX presentation enhancing some of the key sequences, this Paramount release should add substantially to the grand total of a franchise that has hauled in $1.4 billion to date.”
“At least two different constituencies will be curious about this fourth installment of a series which, if not taken to heart by the masses on the level of Bond, Harry Potter or even Indiana Jones, has reliably supplied enough lavish, high-voltage excitement to keep international audiences coming back for more about twice a decade. First will be the mainstream action and Cruise fans, who will get their money’s worth from the eye-popping set pieces staged in Moscow, Dubai (with the star dangling from and traversing the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building) and Mumbai, for starters.
Then there are those who will be curious about how Bird, the force behind three superb, unusually smart animated features, Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille, fares behind the camera of a big live-action feature. Given the demands of working within a strict and narrowly defined format that encourages imagination but allows for little deviation, he’s done a fine job, perhaps nowhere better than in the first protracted set piece. Accomplished with very little dialogue and unexpected humor under the circumstances, it’s an escape from a Russian prison by Cruise’s Ethan Hunt (first seen throwing a ball against a wall, in likely homage to Steve McQueen in The Great Escape) orchestrated electronically from the outside by the one other holdover from the last film’s team, Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg).
Conceived entirely visually, the sequence boasts perfect timing, framing and movement, with some brutal action offset by the inspired musical overlay of Dean Martin singing “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” and the general perspective of not really understanding what’s going on, as Ethan and a Russian cohort outmaneuver the authorities and other prisoners to make the break.”
“By this time, and as the action moves along to India, the patterns in the script by veteran Alias writers Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec become all too familiar, as Ethan sets the objectives and does the lion’s share of the heavy lifting, Jane and William do their things and Benji races his fingers over his keyboard and amongst ridiculously complicated wiring systems so as to break into the most impenetrable computer files within seconds. At a lavish Mumbai bash, Jane does get to go glam in order to distract a local gazillionaire (Anil Kapoor, from Slumdog Millionaire), but the main action here is Ethan battling Hendricks for a crucial metal briefcase in a high-rise car park, with elevators and automobiles going up and down, creating an ever-changing set of levels and opportunities.”