In the fourth installment of the Mission Impossible series, Ethan Hunt and a new
team race against time to track down Hendricks, a Swedish-born Russian nuclear
strategist, who has gained access to nuclear launch codes and is planning a
strike on the United States. An attempt by the team to stop him at the Kremlin
ends in a disaster, with an explosion causing severe damage to the Kremlin and
the IMF being implicated in the bombing, forcing the President to invoke Ghost
Protocol, under which the IMF is disavowed, and will be offered no help or
backup in any form. Undaunted, Ethan and his team chase Hendricks to Dubai and
Filmed over a five month period from
October 2010 to March 2011, production took the film
from Los Angeles to Moscow, Prague, Dubai, Mumbai, and
Vancouver. With a production budget of $145 million, and
box-office gross receipts of $209.4 million (domestic)
and $694.7 million (worldwide), it was the second
highest-grossing film in the series.
With a long-standing pedigree of experienced live-action
directors helming the Mission: Impossible series, Brad Bird might have initially
seemed at a disadvantage, given a resume chock-full of animated films. As a
result, has the director succeeded in his “mission” to bring a fresh and stylish
M:I installment to the big screen?
Fortunately, the answer is yes. While "Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol"
doesn’t hit the mark in every scene or character interaction, the majority of
the film is an in-your-face action adventure with a number of enjoyable
performances and exciting set pieces. Bird successfully captures the team
dynamic of Mission: Impossible, while also making sure that the movie clips
along at a quick pace and is filled with stylishly fun moments and the requisite
Unlike prior entries, the story is pretty straightforward with a linear race
against time to stop a nuclear war. Tom Cruise once again returns as series
lead, Ethan Hunt, who is incarcerated in a Russian prison at the opening of the
film. When Hunt is sprung from jail, it’s only a matter of time before he’s
caught in a shadowy conspiracy – one that doesn’t just result in the decimation
of the Moscow Kremlin, but also the dissolution of the entire Impossible
Missions Force (aka IMF); that is, with the exception of Hunt and his
newly-formed team, which includes Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), William Brandt
(Jeremy Renner), and Jane Carter (Paula Patton). Using limited resources and
fleeing for their lives, the trimmed-down IMF squad sets their sites on a
mysterious person of interest, “Cobalt,” who is convinced that nuclear war is a
necessary evil on the road to peace.
Ghost Protocol villain, Kurt Hendricks/”Cobalt” (Michael Nyqvist), is
provided with a shocking lack of screen time or ongoing development.
Audiences are introduced to the character early on, and everything worth
mentioning about Cobalt is dumped out in one minute of IMF team-briefing
exposition. The character is presented in the film as a shadowy and complex
genius, but unfortunately, Bird never really gives Cobalt a voice. As a result,
the character is little more than a flat go-between for the larger plot device
of possible nuclear war. Ultimately, Cobalt successfully serves the narrative,
but it’s a missed opportunity to craft an engaging villain.
While the film managed to dodge the current 3D trend in Hollywood, it is still
offered as a premium IMAX experience – with roughly 30 minutes shot with IMAX
cameras to fill the entire screen. There’s no doubt that the increased scope
(not to mention heavy-hitting sound) adds to the experience, especially during
the sequence at Dubai’s Burj Khalifa.
Regardless of which director is at the helm, the MI series has always been about
action and cool spy/infiltration scenarios, and there’s no doubt that the film
delivers on those points.