Dir. Brad Bird. 2011. PG 13. 133mins. Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Vladimir Mashkov, Josh Holloway, Anil Kapoor, Léa Seydoux.
First published on . Updated on 15 Dec 2011.
When it was announced that Brad Bird, director of The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille, would make his live action debut with this fourth installment in the blockbusting spy caper franchise, expectations were high. Could Bird build on the solid foundations laid by previous M:I instalments to create the series’ first all-round triumph, a film which offered not just the spectacular gadget-fuelled action audiences expect, but a real sense of character and heart?
The answer is a disappointing no, but that doesn’t mean Ghost Protocol is a flop. It’s just another enjoyable, unambitious action movie, sure to satisfy fans of the first three, but unlikely to convert those for whom the prospect of Tom Cruise climbing things and shooting people is of scant interest.
We find rogue American spy and rhyming-slang victim Ethan Hunt (Cruise) languishing in a Moscow jail. The reasons for his incarceration remain obscure but irrelevant, as it’s not long before he’s busted out by his IMF cohorts, who include a peppy Simon Pegg, a surly Jeremy Renner and a rather inconsequential Paula Patton, and tears off on on the trail of yet another madman bent on nuclear war (Michael Nyqvist).
Ghost Protocol plays it strictly by the book: the characters are bland, the plot is over-familiar and the action sequences are resolutely old school. But animator Bird relishes the chance to play with real people – the central suspense sequence, in which Hunt scales Dubai’s Burj Khalifa one-handed, is dizzyingly effective, particularly in IMAX – and the pace rarely slows. Tom Huddleston.