Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Ace of Spades wrote a rather dismissive review of the latest Mission Impossible, Ghost Protocol on his blog claiming that the critical praise was due to the presence of the great Brad Bird (Early “The Simpsons”, “The Critic”, Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille) at the helm, which was plausible enough to me that I lowered my expectations heading into the theater.

Also, Mission Impossible: Never cared for the series enough to watch an entire episode. Didn’t care for the first two movies in the movie franchise to see the third. Never thought, “Hey, Tom Cruise! Love to see him in something.” (Though I’m not a hater: He was good in Risky Business and seriously under-rated in Rain Man, but normally I’m indifferent.)

That said? We loved it. The Flower, The Boy and I were all enthusiastic by the end of the film. I can’t say strictly that Ace is wrong, because he’s saying the third one was better, and I haven’t seen it, but it’s hard to imagine it being the case.

Why does it work? Lotta reasons. Intriguingly, while I wasn’t a fan of the show, I always thought it was dumb that they did a movie abut the show and then removed so much of what the show was about. Like, killing the team right off the bat in the first one and turning Ethan Hunt into more of a Rambo/McClane character.

This movie embraces the TV show. I’m sure I missed lots of references (never having seen the show) but there was: The lit fuse during the credits, the self-destructing message, and even the amazing tear-away Scooby-Doo mask make appearances, though updated to be more plausible and with a dash of humor. The theme from the show features prominently in Michael Giacchino’s score, and Bird did well to bring him on board. (Giacchino scored The Incredibles which had similar ‘60s spy/action themes.)

Also, and more importantly, there’s the team. You might actually remember them. Simon Pegg is the tech/nerd/comic relief, for example. Paula Patton is the girl, and the movie does a good job of steering her away from the typical clichés. Jeremy Renner completes the team and, once again, you think the movie’s going to go one way with him but goes another.

The technology is fun. The right mix of stuff we have and stuff that’s just out of reach. It’s cool. And it fails. Often.

Ace criticized the film for being a “now we go here, no we go here, now we go here” Bond-style travelogue, but it actually seemed to flow logically to me. (He actually talks about an elaborate scheme which they do, despite it being pointless, but having seen it, I don’t see how they could have called off the plan.)

Well, look, The Boy said “I have no problems with the movie at all.”

He never says that. It’s unheard of.

I had no problems with it either. Say what you want about Cruise, he looks plausible doing the action. You don’t even say “for a 50-year-old”, which he is. Well, 49. But still.

Michael Nyvqist is the heavy in this flick, in a dramatic shift from his milquetoast Blomqvist (from the Swedish Girl With A Dragon Tattoo Movies) though we don’t see him that much. Léa Seydoux (Robin Hood, Midnight in Paris, Inglorious Basterds) plays a sexy, evil assassin, which works, somehow.

The whole thing just works: Just the right mixture of not-taking-itself-too-seriously against being-plain-goofy. Really the only action film of 2011 we all recommended unreservedly.

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