Susan Granger’s review of “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” (Paramount Pictures)
Tom Cruise not only scales the dizzying heights of the world’s tallest building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, but also successfully re-energizes this durable, high-octane franchise.
As the story begins, super-secret agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is languishing in a Russian prison cell, throwing a ball against a wall (like Steve McQueen in “The Great Escape”) – until he’s unexpectedly extracted by an intrepid IMF team – computer/gadget whiz Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), revenge-seeking rookie Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and enigmatic analyst William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) – in order to embark on a new assignment involving burglarizing the Kremlin. Because a recent Moscow bombing has evoked memories of the Cold War, their task is deemed so risky that the Director (Tom Wilkinson) is initiating Ghost Protocol, meaning the American government will disavow all knowledge of this job, which involves intercepting stolen missile launch codes in order to trick Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), a nefarious nuclear extremist, and his clever cohort, a sultry French assassin (Lea Seydoux), determined to initiate W.W. III.
Written with moments of unexpected humor by Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec (“Alias”) and inventively directed by Oscar-winning animator Brad Bird (Pixar’s “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille,” “Iron Giant”), it’s filled with globe-trotting tension and vertigo-inducing suspense, particularly when Ethan wall-crawls 2,715 ft. above downtown Dubai, dangling on the ledge of the 123rd floor of the Burj Khalifa, supported only by suction gloves. (That’s more than double the height of the Empire State Building!) There’s a blinding desert sandstorm and a gravity-defying, climactic cat-and-mouse chase in a multi-level Mumbai parking garage, as Ethan and Kurt battle over possession of a metal briefcase.
Kinetic kudos to cinematographer Robert Elswit, second unit director Dan Bradley, stunt coordinator Gregg Smrz and fight choreographer Robert Alonzo. Michael Giacchino’s musical score incorporates Lalo Schifrin’s original TV theme. And Josh Holloway from TV’s “Lost” is memorable as Jane’s doomed former cohort/lover.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” is an exhilarating, action-packed, nerve-wracking 9. It’s a palm-sweating popcorn picture filled with spectacular feats of derring-do.