Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol is an action movie that dazzles and captivates for the first hour and a half, and then overstays its welcome for the remaining 45 minutes. Because Ghost Protocol executes its first two action sequences so flawlessly, it ends up hurting itself in an anticlimactic ending.
The first Mission Impossible came out 15 years ago and many people complained about its complicated plot. There have been no such problems since then, as the plot has been stripped down to an easily digestible concept. Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) IMF team has been framed for an explosion in Moscow’s Kremlin, which will lead to a nuclear holocaust between the United States and Russia. The wheels have been set into motion by Swedish-born terrorist Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist) who believes that nuclear war will eventually give way to a permanently peaceful society. Hunt’s team—consisting of computer guy Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), former field agent William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and seductive Jane Carter (Paula Patton)—has now been disavowed by the United States in accordance with ghost protocol and is charged with stopping him.
I bring up the first Mission Impossible because it’s interesting to see how the franchise has developed over time. If Cruise were replaced by Daniel Craig, then Mission Impossible could easily be mistaken for James Bond. Hunt may not have Bond’s suave style or quirky one-liners, but the plots have gotten to be similar over time. An agent with a checkered past must go up against a diabolical villain with his mind set on bending the world toward his will—am I talking about Bond or Hunt here? You really can’t tell. That wasn’t the case in the first installment, when the object was more about discovering the true villain. Personally, I enjoyed Mission Impossible’s more brainy predecessor.
Regardless, the action sequences where the Kremlin is blown to bits is tense and enjoyable. That’s followed by another breathtaking scene in Dubai where Hunt swings around 100 stories high on the exterior of Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building) as a sandstorm approaches. And therein lies the main weakness of the movie. After these two scenes, the movie has taken itself to such heights that the final scene in Mumbai is disappointing relative to the other two. Hunt and Hendricks go mano a mano in a parking garage where cars and spaces are constantly shifting in what is supposed to be the climax of the movie. It’s a nice scene, but the actual climax happened when Hunt played Spiderman in Dubai, which was about 45 minutes ago. Perhaps if director Brad Bird had swapped Moscow for Mumbai, this would’ve been less of an issue.
Ghost Protocol isn’t without some character development in the midst of the action. Dunn makes his jokes; Brandt explores his guilt; Carter remorses over a lost lover; Hunt reconnects with his past. Fortunately, none of those side stories bogs down the narrative.
Had this movie been about a third shorter, I would say the exact same thing about the movie as a whole.