Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol knows it is an unabashedly silly popcorn flick, and it is with that wherewithal that it pulls off its story and characters so ably. That is not to say the film is without its flaws; rest assured, the film makes more than a few missteps. However, while it is far from Brad Bird’s best, it is certainly an admirable live-action debut from the director.
One of the biggest issues I had with the movie was its habit of being overly referential. Sure, Ghost is probably a lot of fun for those of us who have managed to stick with the MI series for the better part of the decade. However, some of us, myself included, have not managed to see the other three films prior to MI 4. As a representative of this demographic, I feel compelled to mention that if you aren’t up on your Mission Impossible lore, some jokes and cameos may be lost on you. This is not to say the film is in any way unapproachable for newcomers – I only caution that some of these scenes may go right over your head as they did for me.
Having said that, I definitely appreciated many of the homages to the film series as a whole. Many of the Mission Impossible hallmarks are so iconic at this point that I was able to catch the nod-and-wink gags sprinkled throughout the feature despite my unfamiliarity with the franchise. More than that, the new material certainly stood solidly on its own legs, delivering a very entertaining experience overall. If you can make me laugh, I’m probably going to be sold – and this movie delivered in that respect.
So yes, Ghost Protocol was goofy, and quite funny, but it still maintained a solid narrative grounded in the real world. I was mostly invested in Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his spy team as they started their globe-trotting adventure, although character development was clearly not the focus of the film. When the film tried to make this its objective, as it did with the big reveal from William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), it was to no great emotional effect. But a big-explosion blockbuster this remains, and nitpicks like that are hardly a deal-breaker.
Having said that, one thing that may put off some fans of both the franchise and the genre is the ironic lack of major action scenes. Big set pieces are present, but they are far and few between – and almost all of them are entirely spoiled in commercials and teasers. This isn’t to say that any of them lack in scale or scope, but they do not occur as often as one might expect from a modern action film.
In the end, Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol did not disappoint and will almost certainly delight fans. As I said, I enjoyed myself immensely – my minor criticisms are the only thing keeping me from giving this a higher rating. If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to get to a theater and see it on the big screen before it’s gone forever.
Verdict: Movie Win
A Note on Product Placement – I think it is worth mentioning that the shameless placement of Apple products was obvious to the point of distracting in Mission Impossible 4. I am a big Mac user myself, but I also know computers and the thought of top-tier spy organizations using an iPad as a part of some super-advanced holographic device or a Macbook as the go-to hacking computer is laughable. Perhaps this won’t put off all viewers, but it kind of bothered me.
Also, the abundant use iPhones for a solid 5 seconds while they get their new mission before tossing them seems wasteful. They could at least donate them to those of us who are smartphone-less…