Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Accomplished ‘Mission’

Top secret agent Ethan Hunt’s big screen adventures aren’t exactly memorable for giving him a distinct, likeable personality; you don’t really root for him because he’s a relatable or dramatically appealing character. The “Mission Impossible” movies primarily showcase stunts and complex action choreography, and we don’t really care for the agent’s welfare because there’s no doubt whatsoever that he’ll survive them all.

The “M:I” movies’ plots are pretty simple, often convoluted by story details that allow for more kinetic scenarios. That’s still true with the fourth movie, “Ghost Protocol,” directed by acclaimed storyteller Brad Bird. But thanks to the previous film, Ethan Hunt now feels more human, exuding more identifiable qualities than the stoic super-spy in the first and second movies.

It still sticks to tradition action-wise; Tom Cruise gets to wall-crawl Dubai’s Burj Khalifa building in one of the film’s many tense moments. The high-tech espionage still pleasantly mystifies, the Impossible Missions Force a tight team comprised of agents portrayed by Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, and Jeremy Renner.

Bird’s first live-action film mostly impresses, although some initially interesting sequences become tedious. The antagonists start as interesting characters, but ultimately become flat and boring.

Still, the lively components outnumber the dull. The film benefits from the inclusion of Pegg, who plays the team’s resident tech guy-turned-field agent. The other operatives’ backstories also make us care for them, even Hunt. As for the mission itself, it’s a typical interception-retrieval job, but it’s made a little more urgent and desperate when the small team becomes the sole active IMF group. And “M:I – Ghost Protocol” has big, sweeping shots made for IMAX screens, enhancing and establishing some scenes quite sharply.

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