Personally, my memories of Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible movies are spotty at best. Call me crazy, but I seem to recall the first one the most fondly. I mean, he's running from an exploding fish tank, for God's sake! The helicopter in the chunnel? The dangling in front of the computer terminal? Do we not all feel that way in the age of Twitter?... I guess those are the only iconic game-changing epic moments from that one. Hard to say if the Australian Motorcycle Ballet of the second one is still the odds-on favorite. Hey! I can check that out! According to IMDb, the first one is 7.0, the second one is 5.9, third is 6.8, and the fourth one is highest at 7.4, but arguably the standard deviations make it in a three-way tie for first place. So it's not just me, then; the numbers bear me out when I trash the John Woo one. Maybe it's just the poster that makes Tom Cruise look like a balding witch.
That being said, ... and I barely remember the third one. So far I can only recall the opening with Philip Seymour Hoffman, and one shot where the camera zooms in onto the top of a building, where Cruise is about to dive off. Something like that. Well, you know how these first-time directors are. Expectations are low. Brad Bird, on the other hand, comes with great expectations. As a graduate from both the Amazing Stories and The Simpsons schools of film, and having directed three acclaimed feature length animated films, two for Pixar and those same two winning Oscars, well... he's kinda like Joss Whedon, but for guys as well. Something like that. And needles to say, as a casual fan of Cruise's M:I series, the fourth just might be my new favourite! Even though Cruise isn't fooling anyone with that hoodie. You're still pushing 50, dude! But you could play the new Superman, arguably. Superman's getting into hoodies as well, last time I checked. A little less boring.
Much like Republican candidates for President, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol relies on the Soviet Union as a backdrop for the bad guy. However, the bad guy in this one is pretty nimble on his feet, and clearly dedicated to his cause up to his demise in the German multi-car elevator. Again, a smart, fairly wicked script, giving us a justification for detonating a nuclear bomb that we haven't heard outside of strictly theoretical circles. James Lovelock would've been proud. Piggybacking on that, this one dude tells Cruise "War is good for business!" Cruise fires back "Nuclear war?" Egg-zactly.
SPOILER ALERT: I remember how we start off now! Cruise is getting broken out of prison by quasi-nerd Simon Pegg. Cruise has to go back to get this one dude out. In a normal movie, this would be a set-up for the big final confrontation at the end. I'll leave it at that. Speaking of the ending, this movie's a little more hopeful than, say, the mushroom-cloud-happy end of Terminator 3.
What else? The biggest part of the movie that got publicized was the scene in Dubai, involving the tallest skyscraper in the world. Again, in a normal movie, this would be the site of the big finale. Here, it's in the middle of the movie, and is made much more nail-biting than I thought it would be. Crackerjack filmmaking.
As much as it pains me to say it, the acting is good all around except for Paula Patton. She's the one who made the mistake of saying to Precious that she loved her. Here, she seemed to me like she's an Olympic athlete trying to be an actress, but she tries to compensate by exposing some flesh for the sake of the guys, particularly in a scene that might invoke the opening episode of True Lies, except that she's the secret agent and not in the Tia Carrere-ish role. Jeremy Renner auditioned for the new Bourne pic in this movie and nailed it. No more flipping houses for you, eh buddy? If Daniel Craig ever remake GoldenEye, you'd be on my short list to play the new 006. You'll probably have to do an English accent, though.
I was a little worried at the beginning of the movie, as the First Act didn't have the usual dose of headache-inducing jumpy editing that I've grown accustomed to, but as the film gains momentum they make up for it. Old-school, as they might say. Superstar editor Paul Hirsch of Star Wars fame worked on this one. The movie globetrots almost as much as Jumper, and ends with a thud in Seattle, or Vancouver's closest approximation to it. No wonder I didn't recognize anything! All in all, a fine outing at the movies, despite the MoCap scenes I was able to pick out (the big Kremlin explosion that Cruise runs from, for example).
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan