Mission: Accepted: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Posted: July 28, 2014 by moviebuff801 in moviebuff801's Movie Reviews

By: Michael “MovieBuff801” Dennos

The stakes just keep on getting higher with each of these Mission: Impossible films. First, it was a matter of compromised secret agent identities, then came biological chaos, followed by Ethan Hunt’s personal life being put in peril, and now finally we’ve arrived at the threat of mass nuclear destruction; a rather logical progression, really. But the thing about Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is that it feels like it’s late to the party, almost as if it’s the cool kid at school thinking they’re making a grand entrance when in reality, the real cool kid has already shown up to the party and this is the arrival of that kid who’s desperately trying to fit in and be hip. For me, the best way to sum up this movie is to call it a victim of over-hyping, and while I certainly can’t call Ghost Protocol a BAD movie, I also can’t embrace it like a lot of other people seem to have — especially with the number of issues I have with it.

It seems the honeymoon didn’t go so well for Ethan (Tom Cruise), because as Ghost Protocol opens, we find him locked up in a Moscow prison for mysterious reasons, and fellow IMF operatives Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) are in charge of breaking him out. They of course do, giving the excuse that they need Ethan’s help in handling the fallout of a failed mission involving the death of a fellow agent while trying to procure information concerning someone code-named “Cobalt.” This leads to another quick mission, this one involving a break-in to the Kremlin to protect nuclear codes from falling into the wrong hands and also to identify Cobalt. But since this is the movie’s inciting incident, things go horribly wrong and the Kremlin crumbles in the wake of a mass bombing, for which the IMF is framed. As if things couldn’t get worse, the IMF is soon thereafter disbanded, leaving Ethan, Jane, Benji and intelligence analyst William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) the only ones left to clear the IMF’s name and catch Cobalt, now revealed to be Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), a Swedish-born Russian nuclear strategist who wants to start a nuclear war. But this time, all the elements seem to conspire against Ethan and his team, as they find that this mission is more impossible than any they’ve embarked on before.


Okay, so first of all, I can see why many would consider this their favorite of the M:I franchise, but I personally can’t go that far. Overall, I can’t honestly deny that Ghost Protocol is a fairly entertaining movie, but a few things nonetheless bother me about it. This is only about half as good a movie as the third film was, and as I’ve been pointing out with each and every one of my reviews for this franchise, it all has to do with the execution. For a movie like this with such familiar plot elements to really be successful, as Mission: Impossible 3 proves, it all comes down to the execution. And I’m sorry to say that the execution of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol leaves quite a bit to be desired. Ultimately, this film feels like a compiled checklist of action movie tropes strung together around two major sequences; sequences that work so well, in fact, that the rest of the movie’s relatively mechanical modus operandi is made all the more disappointing, especially in comparison to the exhilarating movie that came before it and also considering that the director is someone who usually turns in great work.

Let me go ahead and focus on the positives. Like I said, this movie sports two first-rate action sequences, one set in Dubai and the other taking place in the Kremlin. The Dubai sequence, which is thirty-one minutes long and details not only an elaborate sting operation but also a sensational chase through a relentless sandstorm, is without a doubt the highlight of this film. On display in these thirty-one minutes is a prime example of truly thrilling action filmmaking, with not one moment during that entire stretch that isn’t tense or exciting. If that weren’t enough, the sequence also provides a few good moments of comedy relief. The sequence is so good, in fact, that it ends up overshadowing the movie’s actual climax. As for the Kremlin break-in, which occurs about half an hour in, that’s just as entertaining and well put-together. These two sequences almost feel like ones out of a different and better movie, a movie that I’d very much like to see the rest of one day.

Instead, the rest of the movie that is assembled around these sequences just feels so arbitrary. The plot itself reverts back to the tired-out global nuclear threat angle that we’ve seen multiple times in movies like this by now, and director Brad Bird and screenwriters Andre Nemec and Josh Applebaum unfortunately don’t do much to inject the film with any distinguishing style or even much energy. During scenes where the team is doing regular spy activities such as using a party as a smokescreen for yet another break-in or where Ethan escapes from a hospital and a typical doggedly determined cop, it all feels no different than the numerous times we’ve seen this stuff in other movies with similar agendas. It almost feels like Brad Bird was trying to play it “safe” with his first live-action outing.

Perhaps my biggest issue here, though, is how Ghost Protocol needlessly does away with the emotional anchor that helped Mission: Impossible 3 be so involving. Spoiler alert, but it’s revealed in this movie that Ethan was supposedly in that Moscow prison at the beginning because he killed a group of Serbian terrorists as retribution for them killing for his wife Julia. But, hold the phone, him being in that prison was just part of this mission all along, meaning his wife is not only still alive, but never really in any danger to begin with. So … if there was never any threat to Julia in the first place and Ethan’s confident he can keep her safe … why break up with her at all, when the two were clearly happy? Answer: just so the producers can squeeze out a few more installments and thus ruin the third movie’s perfectly good ending. Although, I think I’ll just prefer to think of this or any future installments as just a bad dream that Ethan’s having on his honeymoon. The acting from all major parties is fine, but again, there’s no real emotional investment this time around, so there’s not much reason to care about if the team makes it out okay. Partly, though, we still know that they will, so much of the movie doesn’t have any real suspense. On top of that, the one true bland and uninteresting performance comes from Michael Nyqvist, playing the film’s equally bland and uninteresting villain whose only purpose appears to be to sneer and shoot.

While Ghost Protocol may have its issues, there’s still a certain watchability to the movie, and that’s worth something. However, it’s safe to say that this is one of those cases of a movie piquing early on — the Dubai sequence — and then steadily losing steam for the remainder of its running time. I just hope Mission: Impossible 5 winds up being a more acceptable mission.

**1/2 /****

And that wraps up the “Mission: Accepted” series, making this a mission accomplished. By the way, remember how I mentioned at the start how I found this franchise interesting in a particular way? Well, that’s because, for me, each odd-numbered installment has been very good while the even-numbered ones have been lackluster. If you’re interested in my complete ranking of all four movies, they are as follows:

Mission: Impossible 3

 Mission: Impossible

 Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

 Mission: Impossible 2

  1. CMrok93 says:

    Good review Michael. This movie was pretty rad, even though the franchise up to this point was just something entertaining to watch. This was downright suspenseful beyond belief!

    • moviebuff801 says:

      See, apart from the first-rate Dubai and Kremlin sequences, I just didn’t find this all that suspenseful. But if you were riveted by it, then great. It just didn’t work as well for me.

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