The Mission Impossible movies starring Tom Cruise blur together for me. I remember something about a hot orange car, Felicity's eye shattering like glass, some well-known star dying too soon in an elevator shaft. I can't tell you if these scenes were from 1, 2, or the cleverly titled M:I:3. My expectations were pretty much nil for this flick. Sure, it was screening in IMAX, but I haven't been too impressed with Hollywood's using the 70mm film to its best advantage.
But from the opening IMAX shots of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, where the sixty-foot screen filled with soaring views of Budapest's Parliament building (and later with other such grand international locations as the Kremlin and the Burj Khalifa—the tallest building in the world in Dubai), I was simply agog. Wow, this movie worked the IMAX screen! And, to the series great benefit, they got director Brad Bird to helm the film. He may seem an odd choice at first, with only animated features under his belt (like Ratatouille, The Incredibles, and The Iron Giant), but it turns out he was the perfect person to liven up this series and make it fun again.
Tom Cruise, aka special agent Ethan Hunt, is broken out of a Russian prison where he has been for a few years. It is unclear at first why he is there in the first place, but all we care about is how Simon Pegg's Benji will use his geek brains to get Ethan out of there. Once Ethan is out, he is given a new mission: He and his crew must stop a madman (would we want any other kind of villain?), the Swedish tycoon Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist) who is set on getting his hands on the top secret Russian nuclear missile launch codes. Hendricks has a far-fetched idea that if all of humanity is equally wiped out, it would give the Earth a better chance to re-generate. Or something. Hm. But, really. Unlike other M:I movies, the plot is thankfully pretty straightforward: Stop Hendricks because he wants to blow up the world.
Ethan and Benji are joined by agent Jane (Paula Patton) and the mysterious analyst Brandt (Jeremy Renner) who proves quickly that he is not just a numbers-cruncher. There is an unspoken tension among the team (dark secrets are slowly revealed), but they have an excellent rapport, and thankfully, there are no annoying distracting love interests. The action is always brisk, clever and breathtaking, and the movie uses IMAX to its best potential. Try not to gasp as Tom Cruise is literally at the end of his rope on the side of the vertigo-inducing Burj Khalifa. Holy crap, that looked cool!
Throw in things like a looming sandstorm, a crazy multi-level fight scene that lets you feel every bruise, very cool techie gadgets, a major international site being blown to bits, and the token hot woman agent getting to wear a knockout dress, and you have a totally entertaining movie. Sure, you may be chuckling at the outrageous placement of Apple products, from the iPad to regular iPhones (which apparently are all a super-agent needs)... but beyond that, this movie—I am very surprised to admit—totally rocks.