Someone has been taking Napoleon too literally when he ambitiously stated ‘There is no such word as ‘Impossible’ in my dictionary,’ because someone needs to teach the Mission: Impossible guys the definition of the word impossible. With three movies titled Mission: Impossible that consist of nearly impossible missions that are miraculously accomplished in the end, even the most hard-boiled crepe hangers would find it difficult to believe that any further movies would actually comprise of a mission that is really, earnestly and absolutely impossible. What they should have done is named the fourth instalment Mission: Nearly Impossible; just for the sake of honesty, if nothing else.
The grudges I bear against the title of the film don’t hold true for the film itself. Contrary to the established precedent, where the story was often contorted to resemble scrambled eggs, Ghost Protocol keeps things comparatively simpler. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) returns to his element in classic Ethan Hunt fashion by making an escape from a Russian prison with the help of his associates, Jane (Paula Patton) and Benji (Simon Pegg). Their almost-impossible mission requires them to stop an obnoxious Russian badass, Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), from gaining control of a satellite and nuclear codes that will allow him to instigate a nuclear war. The reason he provides, as any man who has been conked on the head a little too hard would do, is that once life on Earth is annihilated it will lead to the dawn of a new era, where the weak will die and the strong will survive – a result of taking Darwin’s Survival of the Fittest theory way too literally. To stop this lunatic from bringing nefarious scheme into action, the team throws caution to the wind and jumps headfirst into the imbroglio that leads them from Russia to Dubai to Mumbai all the while fighting bad guys with guns, getting smacked in the face by a sand storm, driving flashy cars and occasionally climbing the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, with merely the help of sticky gloves.
The action sequences even eclipse Tom Cruise and become the absolute show-stealers in Ghost Protocol. Director Brad Bird, who displays his penchant and skill in making action films through The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, makes a seamless transition from animation to the real world by charging up the nearly-dead franchise with enough action to resurrect it. The sequences are plenty and all are choreographed adroitly – Ethan’s escape from prison, the dust-storm fight and even the finale set in a futuristic parking lot. The scene which shows Tom Cruise going all Spiderman on the Burj Khalifa not only made me secretly hope that he would tumble to a crushing over 100-storey drop and get splattered onto the road as castigation for Knight and Day, but also got the adrenaline glands pounding like they were having a seizure.
The movie also does well on a front where most action flicks fail miserably – making an emotional connection between the characters and the viewers, such that one actually feels lugubrious at the death of a character, instead of mere apathy. Even with the little screen-time some of the side-cast has been granted, you form an attachment with them that makes you want them not to die.That doesn’t happen in many movies nowadays – Captain America and the latest Harry Potter movie exemplify this. The only other film that scaled this forlorn peak this year was Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, and that’s because the monkeys were my ancestors.
Ghost Protocol falls rather short on a storyline – it seems like a vessel to flaunt the enviable tools and tricks that Team-Hunt, or Hunters, carry with them. But going to a Mission: Impossible film hedging your bet on an impressive storyline would be as foolhardy as going to the world’s greatest hooker with empty pockets and high expectations. Another shortfall that the movie faces is the nebulously characterized Hendricks who wants to blow up the world. He is as generic as antagonists get, having nothing to distinguish in the tide of villains – no battle-scars, no evil-dialogues, no physical peculiarities, no idiosyncrasies – except that he’s Russian. Pitted against the Hunters, he seems piteously milquetoast. The real danger is essentially just the nuclear missile.
The film doesn’t stumble into the booby-trap of ‘I’m-going-to-bore-you-to-death’ with the owl-faced zombie-slaying Simon Pegg providing the much needed comic relief, with the accompaniment of Jeremy Runner as a covert, ex-agent named Willaim Brandt. They bring a sense of humour previously unseen in any of the Mission: Impossibles. While the scintillating action does make up for the lag, at 138 minutes the movie seems to drag occasionally with the extra minutes hanging by the side of its head like a dead foetus.