Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, despite its slightly unwieldy full title at times, is a triumph of action adventure. A smart, full-tilt spy adventure with jaw-dropping stunts, unflinching pace, ample good humor (courtesy of Simon Pegg) and enough drama and twist to raise it healthily above the mostly average fair that has graced the multiplexes over the last 24 months. Tom Cruise and his fine ensemble cast travel the world with gadgets, fast cars, slick maneuvers and, under the confident guidance of Director Brad Bird – in his live-action feature film debut - deliver easily last year’s best action film.
Studio: Paramount Pictures
US Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence
Film Length: 132 Minutes
Video: AVC MPEG-4 1080P High Definition 16X9
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese
Release Date: April 17, 2012
Review Date: April 22, 2012
Benji Dunn: “Now remember, blue means glue”.
Ethan HuntHunthh: “And red?
Benji Dunn: “Dead”
The fourth mission undertaken by the Impossible Mission Force (IMF) finds Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team consisting of Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Jane Carter (Paula Patton) running down a rogue Russian threat seeking to strike the United States armed with the recently stolen Russian Nuclear launch codes. An early plan to thwart the terrorists by infiltrating the Kremlin ends in disaster when the Kremlin is destroyed by a huge explosion and Ethan and his team are implicated. With the entire IMF disavowed, Ethan and team are joined by William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) as they travel across the globe to take down the threat and clear the IMF name.
Tom Cruise enjoys a revival of popularity with this latest Mission: Impossible adventure having experienced a slight dulling of his star with the disappointing box office results of last year’s Knight and Day and the underwhelming (yet not too shabby) reception of the third Mission: Impossible film. Cruise demonstrates a physical daring and a continuing firm grip on his Hunt character. Tom Cruise has always brought intensity to his action films – providing gravity and drama to even the pulpiest of action-adventure movies, and this latest outing is no different. Ghost Protocol gives more ground to the rest of the cast than previous films in the series and it serves the experience nicely. The rest of the cast is uniformly excellent, with Jeremy Renner – a rising actor reportedly groomed here as a possible replacement for Cruise’s Hunt (should he ever feel the need to bow out) – bringing a taut energy and serious yet likeable quality that is well suited to become a future focus of this ever-popular franchise. Paula Patton, who portrays a character teetering on the edge of vengeance, does well in her role, but it is Simon Pegg who shines brightest as the comedic relief. Pegg has superb timing and a highly expressive face giving even the tensest of sequences a wonderful counterbalance of light humor.
The stunt and action sequences are flawless – perhaps some of the very best put to film in the last ten years. There is a tangible quality to them, particularly the sequence on the Burj Khalifa in Dubai as Cruise performs his own stunts, dangling outside the world’s tallest building in one of the most suspenseful and thrilling stunt sequences I can recall. Director Brad Bird has an exquisite sense of choreography as the opening sequences in Budapest and the Russian prison clearly demonstrate. Bird has a defined visual sensibility crafted from his superb work in animated films. His The Iron Giant is a masterful blend of heart and story, and his The Incredibles – a story of superheroes – is in many ways an espionage film wrapped in the common mythology of the superhuman and without a doubt, Bird’s skills behind the camera greatly elevate the many familiar spy film tenets (bad guys, launch codes, fast cars, gadgets and guns) found in the plot.
The visual effects courtesy of Industrial Light & Magic are mostly seamless to the in-frame effects though the destruction of the Kremlin (and other smoke/cloud effects) proves to be more ‘cartoon-like’ than photorealistic. Still, most of the effects work is so well blended that you simply won’t notice it. Another notable piece is the score by Michael Giacchino with whom the director worked on The Incredibles. Giacchino expands upon his themes in M:I III with playful and pounding music that is as rousing on disc as it is in the film.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is the best of the series. The decision to remove the IMF operatives from their relative comfort zones (having them cut off from IMF’s resources and operating outside of the ‘law’ as it were) will remind many fans of the first film, but besides the ‘rogue agent’ flavor, Ghost Protocol doesn’t resemble director Brian DePalma’s outing at the helm at all. Rather, here we explore more broadly and adventurously agents working with limited resources and against a timeline and the results are an absolute winner.
With several key sequences filmed in the high-quality IMAX format, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’s quality on Blu-ray goes from near-perfect to perfect. This is High Definition at its finest, recreating the theatrical experience superbly with the only exception being the framing of the IMAX-filmed sequences updated to match the aspect ratio of the rest of the film. When Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was released on Blu-ray retaining the IMAX sequences original frame there were some complaints with the changing ratios (similar complaints accompanied the release of Warner Bros’ The Dark Knight). Personally, I would prefer the ratio to better match the theatrical experience even if that does mean changing ratios with different scenes. This film is presented in 1080p HD with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1.
The level of detail is terrific best demonstrated by the clarity of the grit and grime on Tom Cruise’s face (in the prison sequence and as he scales the Burj) and the textures on fabrics and the location shoots. The production is quite bright with warm tones – yellows and softer reds – showing off particularly well.
The English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD audio is outstanding. A brilliantly mixed and balanced audio that spreads the surround effects with precision and is deep and bellowing in all the right places. Dialogue in the center channel is perfectly balanced with the action. Michael Giacchino’s score drives a great deal of the overall audio and is enveloping. The action sequences – particularly the chase through Dubai and the sandstorm – are full and draw the audience in to the fun onscreen. All-in-all a flawless audio experience!
4 / 5
Blu-Ray version of the film
Special Features – * indicates a special feature exclusive to the Best Buy version of this release
Mission Accepted (48:04) (HD): This set of behind the scenes extras covers everything from shooting in the Czech Republic to filming in Dubai and, through interviews with Director Brad Bird, Tom Cruise and others, delivers a fascinating peak into the filmmaking process. This is indicative of all the special features available in this limited edition Best Buy version that includes over two hours of extra stuff.
- Suiting Up In Prague*
- Heating Up In Dubai
- Vancouver Fisticuffs
Impossible Missions (50:44) (HD): Another superbly produced set of extras covering a great deal of ground. Of particular note are the sections ‘Shooting in IMAX® and Composer. It is interesting to see and hear how invested and on-form Tom Cruise is behind the scenes on these features. Brad Bird and Tom Cruise clearly were able to develop a strong collaborative relationship. I can see these two working together again – mostly likely not on a M:I film, but at some point in their careers.
- The Russian Prison*
- Shooting in IMAX®*
- Art Department*
- A Roll of Film*
- Life Masks*
- Stepping into the Storm*
- The Sandstorm
- Dubai Car Crash*
- Lens on the Burj*
Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by director Brad Bird (15:02) (HD): I recommend watching these with the optional commentary. Presented here are 8 deleted scenes, including an alternate opening, which to varying degrees add a hair more to existing moments in the film. With a 132 minute running time, these scenes – though not all cut for time – were wisely excised from the final product.
DVD + Digital Copy of the film
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is highly entertaining. A globe-trotting adventure filled with fun, flair and fantastic stunt and action sequences that raise the bar. Each film in the Mission: Impossible franchise has employed a different director at the helm; something which Brad Bird has stated is one of the franchises strong points, and Bird appears to have helped breath an increased sense of vitality into the series. Each film has come with a different tone though this fourth entry shares more DNA with Director J.J. Abrams third outing (Abrams serves as producer here). This highlight of the series comes highly recommended.
Overall (Not an average)