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Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol (Blu-ray Review)

13 Apr, 2012 By: John Latchem

Street 4/17/12
Box Office $209.37 million
$29.99 DVD, $44.99 Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, $51.99 limited-edition three-disc BD combo pack (Best Buy exclusive)
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of intense action and violence.
Stars Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Anil Kapoor, Josh Holloway.

A trademark of spy movies is the array of remarkable gadgets that often serve as precursors of technological advancements yet to come. And yet the ever-present challenge is to come up with even cooler gizmos once real-world technology catches up with the filmmaker’s imagination. What years ago would have been depicted as a futuristic miniature computer is now just an iPad.

Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, the fourth film based on the classic TV series, and possibly the best one yet, is an effective actioner that doesn’t rely on mindless explosions to generate thrills, as long as viewers don’t think too hard about some obvious plot holes.

Tom Cruise remains a commanding screen presence and a credible action hero, even as he’s pushing 50. What’s amazing is the degree, revealed in the bonus featurettes, to which he performed his own stunts, especially considering how easy it probably would have been to fake it. But this isn’t a movie that cheats the audience.

Cruise returns as IMF agent Ethan Hunt, whose mission this time around is to find a rogue military strategist who wants to start a nuclear war to guide mankind into a peaceful aftermath. When said strategist — played by Michael Nyqvist, star of the Swedish versions of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo movies — frames Hunt’s team for blowing up the Kremlin, the resulting international incident causes the United States to disavow the IMF. Cut off from their usual resources, Hunt’s team is given an off-the-books assignment (the so-called Ghost Protocol of the title) to continue their mission in order to clear their names and save the world. Oh, and Josh Holloway — Sawyer from “Lost” — turns up in a brief cameo at the beginning as another IMF agent.

Director Brad Bird imbues his first live-action film with much of the same visual flair he would one of his animated hits. The action setpieces set this film apart from the passable but largely unmemorable third installment, for which I was hard pressed to recall any signature scenes. Ghost Protocol shouldn’t have that problem, with a centerpiece sequence set in Dubai in and around the tallest building in the world. This is a film that likely will be remembered for doing to the Burj Khalifa what King Kong did for the Empire State Building.

The Burj sequences were actually filmed at dizzying heights 120 floors above the ground, with Cruise outside the window performing a kind of air ballet awaiting his next scene.

Then there’s the finale fight, set in an elevator carport that seems like it could be a real place, but was built on a soundstage.

The making of the Burj and carport sequences are among the highlights of the behind-the-scenes featurettes on the Blu-ray, which also includes about 15 minutes of deleted scenes that are amusing mostly for the reasons they don’t belong in the movie. In commentary on the deleted scenes, Bird explains that many of them are just alternate takes in which the filmmakers were trying to figure out how to craft the story around connecting the action sequences. In one scene, the characters are as clueless about what is going on as Bird admits to being at that point in making the film.

A special limited-edition Blu-ray available exclusively at Best Buy includes another hour of featurettes, covering just about every aspect of the production, which seemed to carry on more or less without a hitch.

The only question not answered comes in a segment about the music, and just why the orchestrator is being interviewed without wearing a shirt. Like the movie itself, it’s another thing about which it’s probably best not to think too much.

About the Author: John Latchem

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