Review: New ‘Mission: Impossible’ is thoroughly entertaining action movie

“Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” is great fun, a
thoroughly entertaining action film that, as the fourth installment
in the series, is among the strongest exceptions ever to the
sequelitis rule of diminishing returns.

Much credit for the film’s entertainment value and its relative
freshness has to go to director Brad Bird, who makes his live
feature debut after helming “The Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles” and
“Ratatouille,” three action-packed animated films that managed to
tell a good story amid the excitement.

But some credit goes to star Tom Cruise, who is one of the
film’s producers and has turned Ethan Hunt into a muscled-up,
super athletic super spy but still has the acting chops to give the
story some depth.

It doesn’t hurt that Jeremy Renner, another very good actor, has
joined his crew, as has Simon Pegg as the comic relief and Paula
Patton as the requisite sexy secret agent.

The story, of course, is preposterous — this is a “Mission:
Impossible” movie after all. It opens with the killing of an IMF
(the “M:I” version of the CIA) agent by an assassin, which is
followed up by an extended sequence springing Hunt from a Russian
prison, then moves on to blowing up the Kremlin.

And that’s just the first 30 minutes of the 2-hour, 13-minute
film that is never, ever boring.

The gist of the story: A crazy scientist named Hendricks
(Michael Nyqvist) is out to steal Russian launch codes and trigger
a nuclear war. Hunt’s mission — and of course, he accepts it — is
to first figure out the scientist’s true identity then intercept
the swap he is set to make to get the codes, which were in the
package the IMF agent was carrying when he was assassinated. See,
all of this mayhem actually ties together.

But because Hunt and his team were in the Kremlin when it was
blown up, they’re disavowed by the president. This puts the IMF on
“ghost protocol,” leaving the quartet on its own and hot on the
trails of Hendricks and the assassin.

In the fine tradition of the James Bond movies, the chase takes
them to Dubai and India as well as Russia and includes some
incredible action sequences, like Hunt scaling the outside of the
world’s largest building.

I’m sure neither Cruise nor a stuntman was actually 132 floors
high attached to windows with high-tech gloves. But it sure looks
that way. Nor could any human alive take the beatings and
multistory falls that Hunt endures throughout the film. It is,
however, the movies and, if you buy in, the action is convincing
and propels the story.

A couple of important subplots also add some depth to the
characters and some unspoken conflicts to their relationships. But
there’s no more need to reveal those than there is to detail the
twists and turns of the chase.

I saw “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” in IMAX and was
blown away. The huge screen is perfect for a picture that’s more
action, less talk. But I’m guessing the white-knuckle ride will
also take place in a regular theater.

To be sure, it’s check-your-brain-at-the-door entertainment. But
“Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” is everything you want in
an action movie writ large. That makes it great fun.

Reach L. Kent Wolgamott at 402-473-7244 or
kwolgamott@journalstar.com, or follow him on Twitter at
twitter.com/LJSWolgamott.