The Daily Grind Video

Light the fuse it is! Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol, the fourth brio-filled installment of the robust MI franchise, lights the fuse and then some… Director Brad Bird (Ratatouille, The Incredibles), in his first live action big budget movie wastes not a nano second in showing that while the road from animation to live action may be the road less traveled, it is not a dead end. 

Tom Cruise is back as the unbreakable agent Ethan Hunt and neither Cruise nor MI4 show any serious signs of wear and tear. Not that there is time to look for them anyway.   As expected, death defying acts that include running, climbing and jumping off buildings while shooting at well-trained killers and breaking out of a Russian prison after mano-a-mano fights with prisoners who look like Samson, all take place before the credits even roll…

The world is again in danger. Launch codes have been stolen by a creepy looking villain named Henricks aka Cobalt (a hugely wasted Michael Nyqvist) and nuclear annihilation is now a possibility.  It seems that as Agent Hunt is wrapping a mission that included penetrating the Kremlin to steal some files from the archives (and this entire sequence is hilarious), half the Kremlin blows up.   Before he can yell “I’ve been framed!” Hunt is jumping off a Russian  hospital ledge, surviving a car shooting and escaping a car crash that lands him at the bottom of a river.   

You see…after the US and the IMF get blamed for the bombing of the Kremlin, “Ghost Protocol” is activated, which means that Hunt, whose days seem about a week long, and his team of highly trained agents are now on their own… Ever the resourceful agent, Hunt and a team that includes the talented and beautiful Jane (Paula Patton), the supposed analyst of the IMF Secretary, Brandt (Jeremy Renner as a possible eventual replacement for Cruise when he quits the franchise…) and team mascot, techie Benji (Simon Pegg) go on mission to get back the missing nuclear codes, clear IMF’s name and save the world. How much do these agents get paid anyway?  How much do their toys cost?  Better not ask. And it would not be an MI installment if the impossible mission did not include private jets, cool gadgets, international locales, including a little rappelling off the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world (located in Dubai), jumping out speeding cars and running, a lot of running, either into a sandstorm or into a parking tower, or anywhere for that matter. Cruise does a lot of running indeed…and I’m personally relieved that he runs much more nicely and less goofily than George Clooney.

It is a thrill indeed to see Cruise back as Agent Hunt and all the action that this role entails because he is so good at it and his commitment to the character makes you want to believe that you too can look that good and be that active when you get to be his age. In fact, don’t miss the opening scenes where he basically glides as gracefully as a gazelle from one floor to another in a Russian prison. Cruise, as Hunt, is gracefully powerful and ageless in this role. And Bird loves his leading man… Cruise looks as imposing and human as ever. The lovely and well known original theme music by Lalo Schiffrin is well complemented by the original soundtrack by Michael Giacchino.

Watching a movie star like Tom Cruise on screen, made me nostalgic for the old fashioned movie stars, the ones who used to burn up the screen with confidence, beauty and a je-ne-sais-quoi that totally determines who is and who is not a movie star. There are plenty of actors but very few movie stars left in Hollywood. In fact, Cruise more than redefines the role of a modern-day movie star. Similar to what his colleague and fellow movie star Clooney has done in the last decade, Cruise seems to want to prove that the best way to keep the loyalty of your fans is to have the work ethic of a thoroughbred.  And I cannot imagine my money better spent than to watch Cruise the actor, climb and rappel the tallest building in the world…dangling more than 130 floors above ground for a shot and looking as good as a movie star is supposed to look even when faced with a fall that would make humpty dumpty fairy dust.   

Since the suspension of disbelief is the premise upon which this entire franchise is launched, let’s not be bothered with details here and just look at the facts. Worthy of the Imax screen? Check. Funny lines? You betcha! Sustained narrative? Sure. Worthy of the 133 minute investment? Totally.  Should you spend the money?  Absolutely, well worth it.

Duration:  PG-13 Rating: 133 minutes  Paramount Studios.