MFR Rating: ★ ★
Tom Cruise may not be the fashionable choice for leading man as he once was, but when studios see a franchise readily squeezed for another drop of action packed profit guaranteed silliness, they’d be stupid to say no. So Tom is back as Ethan Hunt and the thrills and spills never really let up, occasionally gripping but frequently rather disappointing.
The plot is all rather uninteresting and feels like it was plucked straight out of a discarded script for a 70s b-movie thriller. The film begins with IMF agent Trevor Hanaway being killed by an assassin. It all gets rather convoluted quite quickly, Ethan breaks out of a Moscow prison with remarkable ease so that he and his team (Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner) can break into the Kremlin (as one does) and locate files relating to Hanaway’s assasin. There’s lots of nuclear conspiracy and Russian bad guys and you can’t help but feel it seems rather dated and maybe more fitting of the original TV series that began life in the mid 1960s than 2011. Josh Holloway’s character is killed immediately at the beginning and what a shame he couldn’t have been given a proper role because you get the impression from the way he grew into his Lost character, if anyone is perfectly suited to playing an action hero, it is Holloway. It’s even more of a shame because Cruise just seems washed up and seriously lacking in screen pressence.
In terms of the good, there are one or two undeniably spectacular action set pieces, notably a scene in which Ethan is climbing a glass building using special high tech gloves which I’m sure looks even more breathtaking in IMAX. The problem is that these set pieces just feel like punctuation for some incredibly tiresome plot and characters devoid utterly of charisma, charm or anything notably interesting. At 133 minutes long, you’ve really got to wonder who’s editing this thing? It’s a 90 minute action movie drawn out for all it’s woth and it feels it.
There’s an attempt to give some emotional depth to Tom Cruise and Jeremy Renner’s characters but it feels incredibly shoehorned in, like the writers knew they’d written a silly action film without any depth, so on the last draft they stuffed in a few extra lines. Meanwhile, Simon Pegg is just there for some rather unnecessary comic relief which has the product of evaporating any tension and the female lead, Paula Patton, is just an empty shell of eye candy.
It’s a film of a couple memorable moments and a whole lot of padding. Cruise has already hinted at the production of M:I5, but this is an era in which Bourne raised the bar, and unfortunately Mission: Impossible might be fast, but it just can’t keep up.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is out on 26th December in the UK and out now in the US. Running time 133 mins. Certificate 12a (UK).
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Review by David Rank