Redefining impossibilities since ’96
Having rendered every previous impossible mission, possible, Tom Cruise steps into Ethan Hunt’s elevated shoes for the fourth instalment of the franchise. Years after escaping the clutches of sadistic arms dealer Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman) in Mission: Impossible III (2006) the IMF’s unrivalled team are racing against time to track down a dangerous terrorist named Hendricks, who has gained access to Russian nuclear launch codes and is planning a strike on the United States.
Ethan’s history remains as unimportant as it was in the earlier films; here however, there is an underlying story regarding his wife. This plot device is an attempt to bring some relevance to Renner’s character, but this rarely mentioned sub-narrative is easily forgotten and adds nothing to the film.
The action sequences are the highlight of the earlier films and, though Hunt continues to shine, Cruise’s behind the scenes feats are more impressive. The real life stunts, that he continues to perform himself, are incredible, but when translated onto the screen with the safety harnesses removed they fail to reach a similar intensity.
Having gained deserved attention from his comedy roles and crowbarred into the third Mission Impossible film, Simon Pegg’s returns as Benji Dunn, but this time as with field operative status. Despite bringing his usual quality of comedy, his typecast performance boasts too many similarities to previous role as Scotty in Abram’s reinterpretation of Star Trek (2009). This is also the case with William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and Jane Carter (Paula Patton), these characters, much like the hero, have no backstory. They are only conceivable within the Mission Impossible universe and therefore lack any connectivity.
From James Bond to Ethan Hunt gadgets and technology are the underpinning of any Hollywood spy action movie. Much like science fiction, the spy-action genre pushes technological boundaries. The first Mission: Impossible (1996), with its identity changing face masks and voice modifiers, presents harebrained inventions that even Q would be jealous of. While the gecko-tech climbing gloves and dual projection wall are innovative, they only appear in brief scenes and unfortunately for Ghost Protocol the highlights of Hunt’s field kit consists of a reversible jacket, GPS and magnets.
And that’s where the problem lies for Ghost Protocol. The narrative is cliché ridden, the performances are unconvincing and the action sequences are rather tame, it is lacking in every aspect in comparison to the previous films in the franchise.