A Crude Drawing

(a review of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011))

(spoilers)

Okay so even numbered movies out, odd numbered movies in.

I’m kidding, I just wanted to say that. Ghost Protocol wasn’t bad, just not as good as 3 or 1. Never truly returning to spy film form, there’s little left in this series of secrecy, reconnaissance, or missions that don’t end in conspicuousness (explosions, recognition by enemy forces, whatever). All it really has left is gadgets, and imaginations sure went wild this time around. The hallway.. duplicating… thing… apparatus… was fucking awesome, and a great scene all around. I liked the plot at that point, but such started to taper off shortly thereafter.

I did not see a reason for the convolution that was the (hindsight) fiasco in Dubai. I did not agree that the assassin and the Cobalt agent (later discovered to be Cobalt himself (more hindsight)) needed to be kept alive. Although it did lead to a really cool, very long and agonizing, death of a villain. But that’s just indicative of where this series has headed: giving up logic and good storytelling for tactile audience pleasure; pandering, if you will.

I can never help with these movies but to compare them to how decent the first was. We’re in full action movie territory now without a reason to be. Watching The Man from U.N.C.L.E. recently proved to me that the genre is not dead, so why not keep it alive with a series whose movies always gets top billing (or in the case of Rogue Nation a series entry that was smart enough to not open alongside James Bond and Star Wars)?

In the end, I was grabbed back in by two things. First was the villain, played by Michael Nyqvist, who also impressed me as the villain in John Wick, who as a true believer in his work pitched himself over the edge of the inside of an automated car park following a scuffle with Tom Cruise to ensure (or not (hindsight)) his work was successful (although I must make mention that the fight itself kinda blew — there’s no way that guy would have held up so well against the Ethan Hunt we have seen fight for four movies now). Second was a last touch of spy movie etiquette: diplomacy. Seeking not to disrupt international relations, Ethan Hunt made certain through a very roundabout method that the Russian agent that was hunting him for blowing up the Kremlin, an act perpetrated by the villain of course, arrived at said car park for the final showdown so that he would see the truth. It was a light touch, and perhaps a little campy in its execution, but worth it.

Last notes that I forgot about and am now too lazy to make eloquent: Jeremy Renner did fine, but his whole deal was terribly transparent; Ethan Hunt drawing a dude on his hand and showing it to Brandt was awful; the “she left him just alive enough for me to see him die” line was bullshit, considering Moreau shot Sawyer from Lost like a thousand times; and I can’t believe I’m saying this but I didn’t like Simon Pegg’s character one bit.

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