New “Mission Impossible” Best One Yet

Good day, dear reader.

The man you are looking at is Tom Cruise, one of the highest-paid actors in the world.

Recently his newest movie opened nationwide to generally favorable reviews. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to go to the theater, see the film for yourself, and determine once and for all whether the myriad praise for the movie is indeed justified. As always, should you or anyone who accompanies you to the cinema complex be reprimanded by the manager or ejected from the theater, the movie gods will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This message will not self-destruct in five seconds because I don’t know how to do that. Good luck, reader.

Yes, after a five-year hiatus Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is back for the fourth installment of the “Mission Impossible” series on the big screen. Based upon the popular CBS television series that ran from 1966 to 1973 and on ABC from 1988 to 1990, the films have enjoyed immense popularity, and “Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol” should be no exception because it’s the best one yet.

As the film begins, we find Ethan incarcerated in a Russian prison after the IMF Secretary disavowed his actions in the wake of an explosion in the Kremlin. Of course Ethan was innocent of any wrongdoing, and now he and his makeshift IMF team comprising the beautiful but tough Jane Carter (Paula Patton), technical genius Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), and agent William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) have to undercover to reestablish their reputation, thus the terms “ghost protocol.”

Shortly after Ethan meets his team, he approaches a pay phone, presses the buttons, and receives the following message.

“Welcome back, Ethan. In your absence, IMF has learned that Cobalt is or was a level-one nuclear strategist for Russian intelligence. Therefore, the only way to uncover his actual identity is to infiltrate the Kremlin itself. In order to get past the checkpoint, you’ll be impersonating General Anatoli Federov. We believe Cobalt will do everything he can to destroy any record of his identity. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to penetrate the highly secured archive inside the Kremlin and retrieve Cobalt’s file before he can destroy it. New intel suggests Cobalt is already en route leaving you four hours and 52 minutes to infiltrate. To save time, we have chosen your team for you, agents Carter and Dunn.  As always, if you or any of member of your team is caught or killed, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This message will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Ethan.”

And it’s game on for Ethan and his team as they race frantically to recover from an assassin the codes capable of launching a nuclear attack that could virtually wipe out the United States. The IMF team’s pursuit of Cobalt takes them from Los Angeles to Moscow to Prague to Dubai to Mumbai to Vancouver, and the unrelenting action is constantly fast and furious.

Although there are those who are not enamored by Cruise, I maintain that he is one of the best actors in the business, and if you have any questions about either his range or ability, get a copy of “Born on the Fourth of July” and tell me when you have ever seen a more impressive performance. And I can’t think of anyone better than Cruise to play Ethan. In the film’s production notes, the actor explained his affinity for the series.

“I loved the show when I was a kid. I felt that, as a film, it could take us to different locations, have pulse-racing action sequences and smart, innovative tech. It was the first film I ever produced. As a filmmaker and as an actor, I’m always thinking about the audience. I want to entertain them and give them a new adventure every time.”

He certainly has succeeded in doing that with this film because the fight scenes and the stunts are absolutely spectacular. Of course we have some obligatory car chases, but the really impressive scenes are the escape from the Moscow prison, Ethan’s fight at the end of the scene where he attempts to obtain the briefcase containing the precious codes. He does something at the end of this scene that defies description.

But the stunt to top all of them occurs on the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building (2,716.5 feet), which towers over Dubai. At one point Ethan has to get to a location of security control without anyone seeing him, and the only way he can do this is to scale the outside of the building. As one who hates heights, I can tell you that my heart was in my throat during this sequence. And the word is that Cruise eschewed the idea of filming this sequence on a set and opted to dangle outside the real building instead. If this segment doesn’t leave you breathless, you may want to ask someone to check whether or not you are alive. In the production notes, Patton remarked on her reaction to this scene.

“We were shooting a scene where Brandt catches Ethan’s leg, and then I catch Brandt, and we’re pulling him back in through the window. I saw him hanging there, outside the Burj Khalifa, and he just looked at me and said calmly, ‘Hey, Paula,’ and I’m, like, ‘Hi.’ I looked down and realized I had inched my way outside the window somehow. It was astounding to be looking out that building. In many ways, you are overcome by the beauty of the city. I couldn’t believe I was doing it.”

If this chapter in the “Mission Impossible” series has a weakness, it is that it asks viewers to suspend their disbelief too much, but when you consider other action sagas like “Lethal Weapon” and “Die Hard,” you realize that all films in this genre require a high suspension of disbelief.

“Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol” (Give it an eight.) is the best film in the series so far. Fans of Ethan should love it, and I’m already for the next one because I find not enjoying these films completely impossible.

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