Armed with a license to kill, Secret Agent James Bond sets out on his first mission as 007, and must defeat a private banker to terrorists in a high stakes game of poker at Casino Royale, Montenegro, but things are not what they seem.
In the fourth installment of the Mission Impossible series, Ethan Hunt and a new team race against time to track down Hendricks, a dangerous terrorist who has gained access to Russian nuclear launch codes and is planning a strike on the United States. An attempt by the team to stop him at the Kremlin ends in a disaster, with an explosion causing severe damage to the Kremlin and the IMF being implicated in the bombing, forcing the President to invoke Ghost Protocol, under which the IMF is disavowed, and will be offered no help or backup in any form. Undaunted, Ethan and his team chase Hendricks to Dubai, and from there to Mumbai, but several spectacular action sequences later, they might still be too late to stop a disaster. Written by
The best 'Mission Impossible' yet is also our pick for the best action film of the year
Summer is usually the time for big loud action-packed blockbusters like this, but let us tell you right at the start that none of the bombast we've seen this summer compares to what lies in store for you in the fourth big-screen adaptation of the 1970s television series. This is hands-down the best action film this year, boasting some of the most exhilarating action ever captured in a long while. It also restores Tom Cruise's marquee value as an action star, and we dare attest that any naysayer to Cruise's ability to resurrect the franchise he almost drowned will be silenced once they see what he does on screen.
Indeed, the last 'Mission: Impossible" from 'Alias' and 'Lost' creator J.J. Abrams was then easily the best of the series- though all that positive word about it couldn't quite triumph the bad press surrounding its star and producer Cruise's erratic behaviour. So 'MI3' ended up hitting a nadir for the franchise at the box-office, and Cruise's star wattage has never since fully rebounded. Trying to restore its lustre wasn't a mission impossible, but it was going to be an uphill task as well- if not only for the fact that it had to better J.J. Abrams' solid work.
That gamble has however paid off with an unlikely bet- choosing animation hero Brad Bird from 'The Iron Giant' and 'Ratatouille' to make his first live-action film. Bird is also of course the director of Pixar's 'The Incredibles' and there is certainly the same pulsating energy running through every frame of 'MI4'. From the very beginning, Bird places his definitive stamp on the series with a classy opening that sees IMF operative Ethan Hunt breaking out of a Russian prison. That sequence, which combines Dean Martin's 'Ain't That A Kick in the Head' with Steve McQueen's 'The Great Escape', is carefully executed and fluidly filmed- and both are signature attributes of Bird's style throughout the movie.
No 'Mission Impossible' film would be complete without the exotic locales, fancy gadgets and big explosions- but there is a certain finesse by which Bird assembles all these elements together into one package. So even as the setting moves from Russia to Dubai to Mumbai, even as the gadgets grow increasingly fanciful (one especially nifty device is a nifty retina-based mirror-like screen) and even as the explosions get more colossal (how about blowing up the Kremlin?), Bird never lets the adventure get frenetic, alternating confidently between quiet tension and full-blown action to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Riveted is what you'll be as Hunt and his team infiltrates the Kremlin to steal some classified intel about the Russian extremist Kurt Hendricks (Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist from 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'), then hoodwinks two sets of bad guys just one floor apart atop the Burj Khalifa, and then races against time literally in the crowded streets of Mumbai to stop Hendricks from precipitating an all-out nuclear war between the United States and Russia. Each elaborate setpiece is in itself a spectacle, and watching them unfold one after another quite simply takes your breath away.
But the most awe-inspiring- and worthy of singular mention- setpiece is Cruise's vertiginous climb up the glass exterior of the Burj Khalifa using suction gloves. It is Cruise himself way up on the 130th floor, and the authenticity of it shows in every second of Robert Elswit's breathtaking cinematography that is enough reason alone to catch this in IMAX. It is even more heart-stopping than you can imagine, not least when Cruise is left dangling with just one glove after the other malfunctions. Nothing else quite comes close to the sheer dizzying excitement of this sequence- not even the intensely gripping race- against-time climax with a good-old fistfight between Hunt and Hendricks in an automated parking garage.
Yes, Cruise isn't one to rest on his laurels, and at the age of 49, the extent to which he commits to perform the stunts in this movie by himself is simply amazing. When he is not attempting some death-defying move in the air or for that matter on the ground, Cruise uses his immense charisma to deliver a slickly captivating performance as the leader of the disavowed IMF. He also enjoys great chemistry with his supporting players- the tech whiz Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), the tough sexy female player Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and last but not least the enigmatic analyst William Brandt (Jeremy Renner). The banter between Cruise and Pegg is particularly enjoyable, the source of most of the movie's comic relief.
Their wisecracks may at first seem at odds with the gravity of the situation at stake, but ultimately these lighter moments provide a light zesty touch that ensures the movie doesn't sink into its own self- seriousness. Besides these instants of levity, the script by Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec works hard to spin an intriguing espionage plot amidst the action set-pieces that harks back to the Cold War- though admittedly their most glaring failure is in creating a more compelling villain than simply another madman bent on world destruction. They fare much better drawing links between this instalment and J.J. Abrams' last, especially in explaining Hunt's absence from duty as well as Brandt's mysterious past.
Still, story isn't its strong suite, and Bird knows that well enough to keep most of his cards close and revealing just enough clues to keep his audience hooked. But the 'Mission Impossible' films were always going to be about delivering thrilling blockbuster entertainment, and it is in this regard that Bird truly shines. To say that the action on display is exhilarating is merely an understatement, and let us reassure you that the extra bucks you will shell for an IMAX ticket is worth every additional cent. It is quite simply the best 'Mission Impossible' entry yet, and the best action film you'll ever see this year.
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