Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Case for Mission in Action 4

You know, partway through seeing Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, I thought to myself that my review would end up being really positive.  I mean, there had been everything I had expected: car chases, explosions, gunfire, improbable dangling from the tallest building in the world (well, for now), international intrigue in exotic locations and with incredibly attractive people.  So basically, it was proving to be a huge dumb movie that didn't take itself too seriously.

But then... the final reel played (if they do, these days), showing what happened in the aftermath of all the mayhem.  And what happened was... boring.  No, it was worse than boring: it was stupid.  Because, despite some nice cameos for characters seen in earlier films, the final drink shared by the surviving members of the team was water boardingly painful in its dripping sentiment and brain numbing exposition.  And it seemed to take ages as well, and so my mind, running idly for most of the two hours running time of the film, suddenly flared to life to try and keep me from being thrown into a coma.

And, in that rush of adrenaline, so many aspects of the film that I had just glossed over as it had passed by were suddenly thrown into sharp focus.  The Apple and BMW product placement must surely have paid for the film (of the many, many gadgets that went wrong for this mission, none of them bore any identifying logo).  The BMW concept car was definitely cool, even if its windshield sat-nav looked incredibly dangerous to use in real life.  The Dubai and Mumbai tourism agencies were obviously less strict around guidelines for use of their locations than either Apple and BMW were for their products, and so seemed quite happy for their cities to be seen as havens for international terrorism and megawealthy megalomaniacs, probably due to the cities' ineffectual and disinterested security forces.  Jeremy Renner obviously didn't mind not have a lot to do, his tortured analyst character pretty... well, superfluous amongst the characters embodying comic relief, inspiring action leader and hot lady agent.  Speaking of which, my, but Paula Patton is a seriously stunning woman - why was there not more of her again? 

And yes, the harsh light of analysis showed that there were lots of glaring plot holes (which may also be spoilers - so skip this paragraph if you prefer not to know):  Why did super fit killing machine agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) have so much trouble running after and combating a Scandanavian professor at least 10 years his senior?  Did the "forces for good" really not know Cobalt's identity, or do the American intelligence agencies really have up to date movement profiles on every person in the world who has ever had anything to do with politics or a field at least tangentially related to nuclear physics?  Why did the Russian authorities decide it was in the public interest to open fire using high powered automatic weapons on an unmarked car travelling at sedate speed in the middle of Moscow?  If someone had blatantly lied to me for a long period of time and so was obviously using me to get to someone I knew, would I really be thrilled to have them back in my life?  And would the USA really wait until a ballistic missile detonates in the middle of a major continental city before retaliating in kind (as I must assume they would be aware of this kind of thing approaching)?    

But, thinking back, when I was in the middle of it all, the demands of logic or sense didn't really bother me.  It starts off with action, goes to undercover work, then action, then explosions, then a new exotic location, then undercover work, action... it's all pretty exciting and occasionally mildly amusing - until the final 20 excruciating minutes of course. 

Verdict:  Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol succeeds in all the areas it should - action, adventure, style - and fails only when it tries to add depth and sense to proceedings.  It really should have stuck to its strengths.  6.5 fuses out of 10 (I feel I should give it more, but really, that ending... ugh).

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