April 25, 2012


Tom Cruise is a movie star, but after his public embarrassments in 2005, whether audiences could accept him in any role was questioned. And at this point, he probably can’t create a character who isn’t a variation on Tom Cruise, movie star, which may be why the Mission: Impossible franchise is perfect for him. After four films, what can you say about Ethan Hunt other than he’s an effective problem-solver? Ultimately, when you have a director engaged with the material, you get a good film, otherwise it’s just wheel spinning by craftsmen. Brad Bird had a lot to prove with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, and it shows, he delivered a home run. Cruise is supported by Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, and Paula Patton in his battle to stop a terrorist (Michael Nyqvist). And our review of the Best-Buy exclusive Blu-ray follows after the jump.

mission-impossible-ghost-protocol-posterEthan Hunt starts the film in jail, and Bird gives Cruise a star entrance. He’s working with Jane Carter (Patton) and Benji Dunn (Pegg) to break out of jail in a sequence scored to Dean Martin. The film tells you that it’s going to be a fun ride, though the plotting is often nonsense. Jane had been working with Trevor Hanaway (Josh Holloway, who sans long hair looks kind of like Cruise) to get nuclear codes from Russian terrorists, but Trevor is assassinated by Sabine Moreau (Lea Seydoux) and the codes are in the wild. The team heads to the Kremlin to figure out what this could lead to, but their plan is interrupted by Kurt Hendricks (Nyqvist), who sets them up for sabotage. This sends the team into Ghost Protocol mode, where they are acting without any government backing. They are also joined by William Brandt (Renner), who’s got some secrets.

They head to Dubai to intercept the selling of the codes, and that leads to the film’s biggest and best action sequence where Hunt has to climb outside one of the world’s tallest buildings using only wall walking gloves that don’t work as well as he might hope. This sequence was why the film was worth seeing in Imax, but the film here is presented all the way through in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. And when the deal gets complicated, Hunt has to chase after a suspect in a big sandstorm. The rest of the film is about stopping Hendricks before he can start and all-out nuclear war.

What’s amazing about this film (and pretty much the entire series) is that no one really has much of a character. Everyone are pretty much pawns with either good or bad motivations. But the film works because Brad Bird keeps throwing complications at the situation. Nothing is ever easy, but it’s the fun of seeing the characters – specifically Cruise – deal with climbing a building with one working glove, or trying to get down twelve floors with not enough rope, or escaping the fourth floor of a hospital with nothing but a pair of pants on. And for that the film is very entertaining, and has great comic support in Simon Pegg (who has the best line in the film).

Watching it for a second time, it’s fair to say that though the third act is okay the film peaks in the middle. I think partly because that’s when the stakes are at their highest. When the world is threatened with nuclear war – no matter how lucky and last second the team is in defeating evil – this isn’t the sort of film that’s going to kill the world. And so it’s at its best when the stakes are most palpable – when there is a chance they could fail. It’s probably why people love second films in trilogies so much. Resolutions are less fun than complications at the end of the day.

mission-impossible-4-ghost-protocol-tom cruiseBrad Bird decided to release the film without switching ratios for the Imax sequence. Some people would prefer the switching in and out, but I tend to find it distracting, and it isn’t even the best representation of Imax footage. But this is merely aesthetic preference.

Paramount has released the film on Blu-ray with a DVD and digital copy. If you buy it at most locations it’s a two disc set, but Best Buy has an exclusive three disc set (which we are reviewing) that puts all the supplements on a second Blu-ray disc. The film is presented in widescreen (2.35:1) and in 7.1 Dolby Digital TrueHD.

Disc two kicks off with the three part documentary “Mission Accepted” (48 min.), which covers the film’s three main shooting locations: Prague, Dubai and Vancouver. It’s a fun piece that shows how much prep went into the big sequences, and how difficult it was to get the windows out of the hotel. “Impossible Missions” (51 min.) offers eleven sections on different aspects of the production, from shooting in Imax, the scoring, and the Russian prison set. This gives a great look behind the scenes of the making of the film, with mostly fly on the wall type pieces. There’s eight wisely deleted scenes (15 min.) that suggest different directions of the narrative, and how Bird himself didn’t know how all the pieces were coming together while filming. This is the only place where Bird offers commentary, and he basically says everything cut was unneeded. The disc also comes with two trailers, and at least four Easter eggs, all of which are pretty goofy.

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  • Andrew

    Andre Dellamorte, you are an ignorant and despicable writer. I’m not a fan of any Hollywood actor or actress in particular but give credit where it is due!!! Cruise was terrific in Tropic Thunder and now Rock of Ages. Get your facts straight before you make statements like “And at this point, he probably can’t create a character who isn’t a variation on Tom Cruise, movie star,”

  • @della

    TC never did anything wrong.. He has been a consistent moviestar…. His movie Valkyrie and even Knight and Day (mediocore) more than doubled their budgets. In this past decade, I’ve not seen a single movie that he carried which made less than 200 million worldwide.

  • John

    Wow, whoever wrote this is an idiot and a douchebag.

  • vegasorbust74

    Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol should have been the Blu-Ray to own this year but ends up as a huge disappointment. The EXTREME cropping of the IMAX scenes, especially the action scene on top of the Burj Khalifa ruins many great scenes. As your article states, the “switching ratios” is distracting has a somewhat valid point like in “The Dark Knight” the scenes just going from widescreen to 16:9 and back and forth at any given time. Brad Bird played around with the aspect ratios that added to this movie. On the action scene that starts out on the Burj Khalifa, Ethan Hunt walks to the edge of the window and the camera slowly pans and looks down to the ground far below. On the IMAX version, as the camera pans, the aspect ratio starts to slowly open from the 2.40.1 to IMAX. This trick really brings you into the action scene, all shot in IMAX. All of this is lost on this Blu-Ray.

    They should have released two different versions of this on Blu-Ray. An Imax cropped to 16:9 and a 2.40.1 aspect. Instead, they released two versions, a Best Buy exclusive (shame on the studios for doing this) and a bare bones with little behind the scenes for everyone else.

  • Jay Lo

    Awesome review! This is a great movie with some action packed scenes. I just received this movie using my Blockbuster@Home service. I can get thousands of Blu-ray DVDs, to my home as well as stream to my TV or iPad. Having no late fees or due dates, let’s me enjoy my movies or games longer. This makes it awesome when we want to watch movies and the rotation is always fresh. With my Hopper DVR this will allow a movie streamed to any TV in my home. I’m happy my coworker from Dish told me about this fabulous service.

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