Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol ****

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So the latest “Mission Impossible” movie, titled “Ghost Protocol”, could be the best big budget action adventure film of 2011. It is that good. It feels odd to say that considering all facts surrounding the production.

First of all you have the director, Brad Bird, who has only directed animated films up to this point. He makes his live action debut and delivers an action movie so good one might think he has been doing it for years.

Then there is the series itself. It has been over five years since the last installment and fifteen years since the franchise started. Usually quality fades over time. Here it feels fresh and exciting.

Then there is Tom Cruise, who seems to have hurt his film career by putting his personal life into the media spot light. I could not care less what he does in his spare time as it has no bearing on his amazing career but it turns out a lot of filmgoers cannot make that distinction. Here he gives it his all and shows that he is one of the best in the business. Who else performs most of their own stunts? Show me another performer who has the balls to scale the highest building in the world in front of a camera!

The sequence I was just referring to is a point in the film where Cruises character, Ethan Hunt, scales the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai. The scene is filmed with IMAX cameras which really shows, in frightening detail, just how high that building is. There are also a few moments where he falls that are simply heart stopping.

The story involves a bombing of the Russian Kremlin that is basically pinned on Ethan Hunt and his team. This results in the entire IMF being disavowed.  Hunt and his crew find themselves going rogue, operating with no support.  They decide to track down those responsible and clear their names.  This results in a series of action set pieces that brought me to the edge of my seat.

The film opens with Hunt escaping from Prison but starting a Riot.  Then there is a chase through a sand storm where visibility is non existent.  All they use to track their prey is a cell phone and a tracking device.  Then there is a fight sequence that goes from level to level in a futuristic storage facility for cars.  Then that sequence where Tom Cruise scales the highest building in the world. 

Its like Brad Bird has simply been waiting to jump in to live action filmmaking.  But he also brings his sense of character and story to the screen as well.  Each actor is given a nice amount of screen time to create a pretty distinctive character, each with different motivations.  They elevate a story that is not even close to being original. 

The bad guys are the usual array of teeth gnashing megalomaniacs.  A nice touch is a bringing in Anil Kapoor who was the game show host in “Slumdog Millionaire”.  He plays a contact with information the team needs.  Only catch is that he must be seduced and his personality seems to be operating in a movie all on his own. 

After a pretty dreary year for big budget studio films, we close on a high.  Film after film and director after director has resorted to simply hammering us with frantic editing, in your face special effects and a soundtrack that destroys your ear drums.  “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” is like a throw back using modern special effects.  It really is a treat and begs to be seen on the IMAX screen.

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