Movie Review ~ Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and The Dark Knight Rises (Prologue)


Ethan Hunt: The countdown isn't helping.

The Facts:
Synopsis: The IMF is shut down when it’s implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization’s name.

Stars: Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Michael Nyqvist

Director: Brad Bird

Rated: PG-13

Running Length: 133 minutes

Random Crew Highlight:  Super Techno Crane Operator – Regan Mitchell (I’m not sure exactly what this is but I think a Super Techno Crane Operator on MI:4 is probably a bit cooler credit than being the Super Techno Crane Operator on Sense and Sensibility.

TMMM Score: 8.5/10

Review: When a fourth Mission Impossible was announced I felt Tom Cruise had gone back to the well too many times.  I enjoyed the first MI as it stuck close to the format of the original 60’s and 80’s TV series.  The second entry was a misfire from two hot commodities (Cruise and John Woo) that favored visual style over anything of substance.  The third movie made the attempt to capture the tone of the first one but wasn’t memorable.  The fact that all three had different stylistic directors was the reason they felt so detached from one another, with Cruise’s Ethan Hunt character the only thread that ties them all together.

Going into the fourth movie a few weeks ago I was prepared for some entertainment but not to be really wowed. Well, I was entertained and I was wowed. I had the chance to revisit the movie today and can report that it holds up well (and in some instances) better on the second viewing. Pieces that seemed out of place fit better this time and I knew what sequences I was looking forward to. I still feel that Paula Patton is a bit miscast  (I would have liked to see her and the female assassin trade roles, actually) and Anil Kapoor has an out of place cameo as a playboy Mumbai businessman.

If you can, do try to see this in the IMAX format (either at the MN Zoo or the various fake IMAX screens at AMC cinemas).  Director Brad Bird takes full advantage of this large screen format to capture the thrill-a-minute action sequences.  The staging of a chase in the middle of a sandstorm and the final battle in a car park are nail biters.  The sequence we’ve all seen of Cruise climbing up Dubai’s tallest building is another impressive passage but I kept wondering how no one notices Cruise climbing up the building…does he happen to pass by the windows of empty spaces?

Small quibbles aside, this movie really delivers the goods and it’s clear that audiences are eating it up.  I saw the movie at a screening a few weeks before it opened but had to go back and take it in again to catch the prologue for The Dark Knight Rises.  Lucky for me, MI:GP was a worthy movie to revisit and shell out cash for.

Speaking of the 6 minute prologue for The Dark Knight Rises…

Before MI:GP we were treated to what is being billed as the prologue for The Dark Knight Rises. Warner Brothers have taken this approach before with The Dark Knight, showing the thrilling opening bank robbery that introduced us to Gotham’s newest nemesis, The Joker. I found that prologue to be exciting and a huge treat.

I wish I could have said the same about this new footage. I know I’m in the minority here but so far I’ve been a bit mystified by the footage and marketing of this final entry in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. There’s not denying Nolan is a visionary filmmaker and his take on The Dark Knight has been fresh, dark, and revolutionary. Everything I’ve seen is so hushed and inaccessible it’s almost as if Nolan is daring us to get with the program. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first teaser trailer (with Gary Oldman’s barely discernable dialogue) and now we have this prologue with Tom Hardy as Bane’s incomprehensible dialogue. I pray to God that Warner Brothers ensures that we can understand what he’s saying or the movie will be a nightmare to sit through.

I honestly can’t even tell you what happened in the prologue…gathering the few bits of dialogue I could hear I get the gist of it all but maybe that’s the point. With Nolan you never can tell. I will say that the action sequence presented was a jaw-dropper and if this is what we can expect visually/artistically it’s going to be epic. Just please, please…fix the sound.

The final minute or so is filled with teaser shots of the rest of the film. I’m still not on the Hathaway bandwagon…whether Catwoman is entirely good or entirely evil is still up for debate but I just can’t see her in this role yet. Marion Cotillard would have been a better choice…but she has another role in the movie.

All will be revealed when The Dark Knight Rises is released this summer — I’m sure by then I’ll warm up to the presentation a bit more.