And so the tradition of each Mission Impossible being helmed by a different director to stamp their own personality on the franchise continues, this time with an intriguing addition...
Brad Bird, who has been mainly progressed in the realms of CGI - The Incredibles, Ratatouille - seems to have made a determined effort to keep away from the use of computerised imagery to deliver his first live action film. That, plus the fact that his star, Tom Cruise, has wanted to keep it as real as possible for his audiences (every film boasting that he does his own stunts) have culminated in what could have been a realistic, but boring "adventure" for the viewer.
But then this is Mission: Impossible terrority and boring is not something that can be chosen to be accepted or not - bigger, louder, ballsier are what is called for, and what is served up in spades. Lessons have been learnt from the previous three outings and thankfully a fair chunk of them have been applied here. The "lone agent" flaw of the first and the "excessive double-cross twists" of the second were shed for the third (and still the best) mission and here, although not behind the actual camera, the presence of its director, J.J. Abrams, can still be felt.
Bird and Cruise move more to the team-play element which allows Pegg to step up to centre stage as secondary character to Cruise, bringing the main bulk of comedy to the proceedings. He's not able to shine as he has in his own set of films but despite a decidedly American blockbuster script and a leaning towards thrill-a-minute antics, there are still smiles and giggles frequently to behold. The addition of new hero/kid on the block Renner does feel like the unsubtle beginning of the torch passing from older Cruise to him to keep the franchise afloat in years to come, but it doesn't detract from the immense fun that the film is.
As you would expect, there are set pieces designed to make your jaw drop, and if viewed in the imax format, these should succeed. The crown rests squarely with the climbing antics in Dubai on the 130th floor (hence heavily used in the marketing campaign for the film) but Ghost Protocol is not just a one trick pony. The automated car park finale nods to another of Cruise's tech-centric movies - Minority Report - and the beginning prison break sequence has a corridor scene that can be seen as the first attempt to Americanise OldBoy before Will Smith tries it later on.
Good, solid entertainment, the only thing lacking here, which alot of Bond films have suffered from, is a down-and-out, right bad ass baddie. Having a older, academic guy go toe-to-toe with Ethan Hunt feels like too much suspension of disbelief and he's never given enough motive or dialogue for you to want to boo his appearances or cheer his inevitable failure. Apart from that, this is one mission you should chose to accept.
UK release date: 26.12.11