It’s rare that you get to the fourth film in a franchise and find that it’s the best one. Mission: Impossible III took itself more serious than the previous two films, serious enough for us to truly invest in the world but not too serious that it stopped being fun. The fourth film, subtitled Ghost Protocol, thankfully carries on that mentality while at the same time amping up everything to 11.
When the IMF is shut down after being blamed for the bombing of The Moscow Kremlin, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his new team – Benji (Simon Pegg), Carter (Paula Patton) and Brandt (Jeremy Renner) – must go out on their own to stop a nuclear terror threat and clear the organization’s name.
As any sequel should do, Ghost Protocol takes everything the series is known for and makes it bigger, flashier and more extravagant than ever before. The set-pieces here – under the direction of Brad Bird (The Incredibles) – are truly fantastic, particularly a sequence involving Ethan climbing on the outside of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Adding to the wow factor is that Cruise did the stunts himself, incredible both because of the extreme nature of them and the fact that he’s nearly 50 years old. He’s obviously an actor that takes these projects, flashy blockbusters that they are, seriously. All in the name of entertainment, eh?
Bird has already shown his skill at engaging action sequences with Pixar’s The Incredibles and it was very intriguing that he chose the fourth Mission Impossible film as his first live-action feature. Sticking with the mentality of switching directors with each film (Brian De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams and now Bird), Bird brings his own unique sensibilities to the proceedings – the action has its own unique “snap, crackle and pop” this time around – while still staying very much true to the nature of the franchise. Like a new flavouring of the same brand product, if you will.
What M:I 4 has over the other films is humour, with Simon Pegg taking the reigns as far as that is concerned. Pegg first appeared in the third film, and was indeed the comic relief then as well, but here has a more centralised role and his comedy is even more welcome than it was last time. It worked extremely well for the Star Trek franchise, where he took on the iconic role of Scotty, and it works just as well here. Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton are the new blood and both are very welcome additions, Renner proving very much that he could take over the franchise if Cruise decides to jump ship, while Patton is the eye-candy with the skills to back it up.
It may just be yet another instalment in an action franchise that essentially delivers the same sort of spy antics every time, Ghost Protocol does so with more bravado that it becomes its own kind of entertaining. More sequels are inevitable but Bird has delivered the best Mission: Impossible adventure yet.