MarketBOB's Movie Review

Mission Impossible:

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Ghost Protocol
Movie Review
© 2011 by Sportscar Projects Ltd.

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Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
December 16, 2011

This mission is impossible, to make Tom Cruise into our favorite action movie star again but damn if this isn’t the greatest action thriller of the year! You don’t have to choose to accept this mission, but if you do, you’ll love it (and if you IMAX it, it will blow you away).

One Word Movie Review: Kaboom-apalooza
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is the best action thriller of the year. It is Bond without the silly fantasy, Bourne without the jerky camera work and Tom Cruise without the smirk and pretty boy looks. Add in the IMAX theater projection of big picture and big sound and you have the greatest movie experience of 2011. Forget 3D, forget everything you hate about sequels, forget all the Tom Cruise star baggage and, most of all, forget all your stereotypical spy genre plot twists and go see this movie. Previous Mission Impossible movies suffered from too many impossible stunts and too many ridiculous plots. However, this franchise has two critical gifts for audiences that, if respected and done credibly,

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will deliver magic. One is the MI music, that outstanding Lalo Schifrin theme that pulsates suspense with every beat. Second is the set-up for Ethan Hunt’s missions (should he choose to accept them) and the self-destruct timer on the message. This one-two combo of music and mission statement just plain rocks the house down. These two elements set-up each movie to succeed, and although they have done well at the box office, they’ve been plagued by ridiculous plots and over-the-top stunts. Now, finally, and perhaps we have Bond and Bourne to thank for this grittier, saner re-tooling of the Mission Impossible franchise with Ghost Protocol. It is still a vast, complicated, globe-trotting kaboomapalooza of a film but at the core, it is all about individuals wrestling over papers, briefcases and satellites; these McGuffins easy to track as they go from good guy to bad guy to good guy as the world hangs in the balance. Brad Bird, who directed Up and Toy Story 3, gets real actors to jump in front of his camera for the first time and he delivers a fast-paced, credible and visually clever film of frenetic beauty. We have unexpected twists, spy tricks we’ve never seen before and locations that add a visual grounding for the action. Finally, I can’t stress how much the IMAX technology added to my enjoyment of this film. Soaring over Budapest, bombs exploding and music

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pulsating are all things you feel as well as see. Your chair vibrates with the bass speakers and your eyes tell your brain you are actually in the sky, flying over the city. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to see this movie in all its IMAX glory or disavow any claim to having knowledge of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

The Story
Hitchcock’s McGuffin is just the “thing” everyone wants. The Ghost Protocol McGuffin is a three-part thing: launch codes, personnel files and a suitcase satellite guidance system. One team wants all three in order to spark a nuclear war and the IMF team wants to prevent it. Ho-hum, been there, seen that. Yes, I agree. How many times are we going to use that old Russian nuclear threat against America? This is the weakest part of the movie but thankfully, it is revealed in stages so you don’t really notice how absurd the big threat of nuclear meltdown is. Instead, you’re paying attention to who’s got the codes, how to steal them back and when to intercept them and save the world. In between, we travel from Budapest to Moscow to Dubai to Mumbai to Seattle. The IMF team has the hero (Tom Cruise), the babe (Paula Patton), the nerd

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(Simon Pegg) and the possible traitor (Jeremy Renner). You cycle through the ticking clock missions: tool-up, plan, execute, adapt, regroup, repeat. Each cycle ratchets up the danger and impossibility of their mission until the final lastsecond save-the-world moment. At a high-level, you know this is what is going to happen but the film keeps you guessing as to how and when and who and WTF was that? This is an intelligent story, rare for a sequel bent on a formula repeat. However, the last one was in 2006 and the genre has changed. A new breed of filmmakers has rejuvenated the old franchises, returning to reality-based plots and toned down the stupid wisecracks and fantasy mega-villains. This story is not predictable, the stunts are fresh and the technology is credible, if not believable. The one gripe I have with all these movies is the sad state of security systems around the world. It seems every movie relies on a nerd with a laptop to crack every encrypted file, every security perimeter and so on. Sure, Agent Hunt is a superb warrior but he’d be sitting in a hotel room for half the movie if the miracle laptop wasn’t working overtime on his behalf.

The Genre
The “action adventure thriller sequel franchise formula” genre is in re-invention mode, freshening

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up the old dog and teaching it how to bark a little louder and roll over the box office competition. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol benefits from a few years passing since Tom Cruise jumped like an idiot on Oprah’s sofa. He’s older now, more beat-up and world-weary and just about perfect for the role of Ethan Hunt. You need just enough humor to bring relief from the action and Simon Pegg plays the nerd fresh into the field with a delightful (if sometimes overdone) patter of observational miscues. The evil madman is a fairly rational Michael Nyqvist, a Swedish actor known for playing the lead in the Swedish versions of the Stieg Larsson books, starting with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Daniel Craig takes his role in the Hollywood version being released next week. These movies are judged by the novelty of locations and action, the size of the explosions and the fury of the armory brought to bear. Ghost Protocol wins in all three categories.

The Overall Quality
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is a beautiful picture. As mentioned before, the locations complement the story from the isolation, high-stakes deal taking place in the Dubai Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world to the fight to save humanity on the crowded streets of Mumbai (and the auto-elevator car park).

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The acting is top-notch, with Cruise finally losing his pretty-boy looks for an aging and reluctant hero. Pegg is a welcome addition with his enthusiasm and optimistic humor. Jeremy Renner is rapidly becoming a top-tier star, both here and in his Hawkeye role in next year’s Avengers. He’s always interesting to watch on screen. The female roles are the weakest, especially Lea Seydoux as the French female assassin. I got the impression she entered every scene after enjoying a long nap. The music is terrific. If you get a chance, arrive early to the IMAX showing and you’ll hear the film score before the film. It highlights the complex rhythms and familiar themes fading in and out as the drama and anticipation builds, blows up and repeats. Brad Bird makes it all look so real, from the claustrophobic trap of a car underwater to crawling up the glass of a skyscraper. He takes one shot starting inside a hotel room and moving outside, over a hundred stories up in the sky, as we follow Hunt stepping out from his floor to the outside window. Terrific camera work as you feel the vertigo like the character on the IMAX screen.

Movie/Market Analysis
The Movie Mood for audiences is Positive. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol had my mixed audience (male, female, old and young) thrilled from start to end.

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Even with the premium ticket prices for IMAX, the theater was crowded and enjoying themselves. MarketBOB's Movie Review Sentiment Indicators, the GQS (Genre, Quality, Story) rate Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol an emotional BULL. Somehow it seems fitting to end 2011 with a great movie about the most difficult thing to do, yet you suck it up and take on the challenge of getting it done. We live in a world where the solutions seem to be impossible indeed, but perhaps a franchise re-boot like this will help change the mind-set of many who think we’re destined to fail. A mission is only impossible if we accept that it is.

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