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Blu-ray Review: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

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Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is the fourth and best entry in the popular series that stars Tom Cruise as Impossible Missions Force agent Ethan Hunt. Though Ghost Protocol follows some key events from M:I III, the lack of a Roman numeral on this one cues us that it’s also a reboot of the series. Ghost Protocol takes Mission: Impossible to a whole new level of action and spectacle. Director Brad Bird previously directed the acclaimed animated films Ratatouille and The Incredibles. Ghost Protocol is his live action directorial debut. As pointed out in the special features, Bird has an eye for detail and it truly shows. The film is jam-packed with high quality action sequences that keep the film exciting until the end. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is action at its very finest.

Ethan Hunt finds himself with a new team following a jailbreak scored to Dean Martin’s “Ain’t That a Kick In the Head.” They’re thrown into a desperate mission to stop Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), a mad man attempting to cleanse the world via nuclear war. Hendricks is convinced that only massive and equally-distributed destruction on a global scale will even the score, paving the way for world peace. Nyqvist digs into the role, making Hendricks scarily intelligent without ever devolving into a cartoon character.

Hunt’s team includes one familiar face from M: I III. Simon Pegg returns to the series as computer technician Benji Dunn. Pegg’s role is greatly expanded from the previous movie, which is for the best. Pegg brings an off-beat sense of humor that works well for the film. Paula Patton plays Jane Carter, an agent with vengeance on her mind after the death of her fellow agent boyfriend, Trevor Hanaway (Josh Holloway). Jeremy Renner rounds out the primary cast as Agent William Brandt. Brandt is an analyst who seems to be more skilled than first meets the eye. The team’s mission really ramps up after a terrorist attack in Moscow is blamed on IMF. The U.S. government invokes “Ghost Protocol,” meaning the IMF has been disavowed and the agents are on their own.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol benefits from one exciting set piece after another. There is always something else to anticipate right around the corner. In the special features, we are told that Bird studied Raiders of the Lost Ark, using that 1981 classic as a model for his take on M: I. This approach paid off, as Ghost Protocol goes beyond the standard action genre, bringing a real sense of unpredictable adventure. There’s also a healthy dose of James Bond-esque, international intrigue as the plot takes its characters all over the world. The search for Hendricks leads Hunt and company to Dubai, for one of the most eye-popping, death-defying action sequence ever filmed. Using electronically-adhesive gloves, Hunt must scale several stories of the tallest building in the world. Bird piles on complications to hamper the mission, including Hunt’s gloves experiencing a malfunction. If that weren’t enough, a massive sandstorm is fast approaching.

To the credit of everyone involved, the movie is well-paced and never feels overblown. Besides the action, the screenplay wisely doesn’t make characters mere props. Cruise, Pegg, Renner, and Patton all bring their own individual dynamic to their respective characters. Each character has their own motivations and reasons for what they are doing, which adds a layer of emotional involvement. I’m not saying the movie is deep, but there is more to it than just mindless action. The storyline and events are beyond anything truly realistic, but as presented they are not meant to be. This is the Impossible Mission Force. The missions are supposed to be extraordinary. Overall this movie is the thrill ride it sets out to be.

On Blu-ray, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is nothing short of spectacular. The detail is exceptional. This film boasts some lavish cinematography that is well represented on this release. Some of the most stunning sequences of Ghost Protocol are the scenes set atop the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The detail and richness of color in these scenes particularly stand out. The blue sky, the reflections in the glass, the texture of Tom Cruise’s face, and every strand of his hair blowing around in the wind is perfectly visible. This is true of the entire film, but this is the scene that exemplifies the high definition presentation.

The sound is presented in a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless soundtrack. The audio quality is just as impressive as the visual presentation, if not more so. From explosive action sequences (such as the rumbling of the Moscow bombing) right down to hushed voices, they all have perfect clarity. Dialogue is easy to hear, even when immersive action noise is emanating from all channels. Ambient noise, from the shouts in the background of the opening prison break to the roaring sandstorm in Dubai, creates an authentic “you are there” atmosphere.

Special features are plentiful on this set. Best Buy has an exclusive three-disc set that includes over an hour of additional bonus footage. This set is worth getting because the additional feature provides a lot more behind-the-scenes footage of the film. The features are broken down into different categories covering just about every aspect of the production. “Mission Accepted” showcases some of the bigger scenes shot in different locations around the world. The three primary locations for these features are Prague, Dubai, and Vancouver, Canada. It’s fascinating to see Cruise working out his stunts for his hospital escape, and especially for his fearless maneuvers high atop the Burj Khalifa. “Impossible Missions” showcases many of the more technical aspects of the film, including shooting the sandstorm scenes and composing the score. There are several deleted scenes, most of which it’s easy to see why they were cut. There is one that provides more emotional weight for Agent Carter. A UV digital copy, and DVD version are also included. Overall this is an excellent set.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol reinvigorates a series that seemed to have run its course. Each of the four film’s has had a different director (Brian De Palma, John Woo, and J.J. Abrams on parts I, II, and III respectively). But with Brad Bird, the series seems to have found the perfect visionary. With a fifth installment reportedly green-lighted, it might be a good idea to retain Bird.

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About Sherry Lipp

Sherry Lipp is an entertainment and food writer who specializes in film and television reviews. She has published the gluten and grain-free cookbook Don't Skip Dessert.