Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011), The IMAX Experience – Review

Review: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a ton of fun, very entertaining and filled with incredible action set pieces. The film, more so than other installments in the franchise, has emotional connections to the previous sequel (Mission: Impossible III), as the audiences finds Ethan Hunt in a foreign jail with rumors about what happened between his wife Julia and himself. And yet again, Ethan and his team are called on to foil the plans of a madman and save the world. Director Brad Bird picks up where J.J. Abrams (who produces the film) left off in terms of narrative structure. The film is almost a non-stop thrill of escalating grandiose action set pieces, but also has character development and momnts creating an emotional connection with the audience (which is key to its ultimate success). The audience cares about Ethan and the members of his team and thus have an emotional stake in their success, making all the big action all the more intense and gripping. Bird does a great job with the action. The set pieces are intricate and each has their own mini narrative. They absolutely absorb the viewer. The locations are also fantastic. Bird is equally adept at giving the characters moments – be it emotion, humor or levity. These moments are what sets this film apart from most of the action films that have come out this year, boasting the same big action set pieces (though, I would say these are very impressive and sort of blow everything else this year away) but they are merely just spectacle. They lack the same connection that these characters have with the audience. However, an issue that this film has (in comparison to III) is that the villain is not really given much character. He is basically a glorified nameless, faceless entity of evil. Owen Davian (the villain in III) by comparison is a much fuller and more realized character, which makes Ethan’s struggle with him more powerful. Plus, the stakes in that film are more personal for Ethan. It is not just about saving the world. Ghost Protocol lacks both a strong villain and deeper emotional stakes for Ethan. This does not detract from the overall entertainment of the film, but it does not resonate to the same extent. That said, this is the best pure action film of the year to date (and likely will maintain that title through the end of the year). It has the best action set pieces (all the stuff in Dubai and the parking garage scene in Mumbai are incredible), good character moments and humor – all the things Ghost Protocol needed to be great.

Technical, aesthetic & acting achievements: There was never any question that Brad Bird would make a seamless transition into live-action. And given his work on The Incredibles, there was not really any question that he would make a fantastic action film with Ghost Protocol. I am very excited to see what he does next in live-action. Michael Giacchino’s score (as always) is very good (here is a piece). He builds on both the visual thrills and the emotional beats perfectly, while also capturing the flavor of the locations and franchise. His work on the film reminds me of a John Williams’s score at times (one of his main influences). Robert Elswit, whose work is often gritty, shoots the film with a very clean and glossy look, capitalizing (again) on the locations and huge action set pieces, and this is where the IMAX camera comes into play in a big way, amplifying what is already amazing (I highly recommend seeing this in IMAX, plus The Dark Knight Rises prologue is quite astounding). Production designer James Bissell also infuses the film with a lot of color and wonderful sets, which goes hand-in-hand with Elswit’s work. The international cast is very good. Josh Holloway, Lea Seydoux and Anil Kapoor are great in their small supporting roles. Miraj Grbic and Vladimir Mashkov are standouts among the supporting players. Michael Nyqvist is good as the villain, but really is not given much to do. Paula Patton has a potential star-making role in the film (and is good in it), while Simon Pegg is great comedic relief. Jeremy Renner plays his role with a fun skepticism and brings humanity to it as well. And finally, Tom Cruise has charisma and flair and completely owns the role of Ethan Hunt.

Summary & score: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is brilliantly entertaining with some of the greatest action set pieces, but has heart and character too. 8/10

No comments:

Post a Comment