As printed in mX, Thursday December 15th 2011. Click to make big, or just read the text below.
SPIRIT OF THE HUNT
Starring: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner
Director: Brad Bird
Looking at the first three movies you can’t help but feel these so called “impossible” missions are pretty easy to pull off.
Sure, there are split-second getaways and death-defying stunts, but it never seems to be more than our cast of super agents can handle.
Welcome to Ghost Protocol, a movie that starts with an impossible mission going as bad as it can possibly go - and then getting progressively worse.
Tom Cruise is back as Ethan Hunt, hardened veteran of the IMF spy agency. By the time the movie starts he’s looking less like James Bond and more like a battered Jason Bourne.
When a botched mission forces the IMF to disavow all their agents, Hunt and his cohorts must work outside the law to figure out what has gone so catastrophically wrong.
British funnyman Simon Pegg returns with much more to do this time around. New to the team are stunners Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton, each bringing their own unique tensions to the tight-knit group.
The film references the political intrigue of the first movie, blending it seamlessly with the warmth and character of the third.
References to the second movie are few and far between and no one is complaining.
Ghost Protocol is the first live-action film from animation ace Brad Bird, who, among other things, gave us Pixar gem The Incredibles.
All of Bird’s storytelling strengths are on show here, but the movie is in no danger of being confused with a cartoon.
Remember things other live-action blockbuster movies take for granted, such as gravity? Here they are played terrifyingly straight, particularly as Tom Cruise scales the Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai, the tallest structure in the world, with climbing technology that is, frankly, a bit dodgy.
The more their super-spy gadgets fail, the more low-tech the team is forced to play.
Character is the real focus here, and watching Cruise and company struggle against their ever-worsening circumstances makes for some very engrossing drama. In fact, the only technology the team seem able to fully rely on are their beautiful, sleek, stylish iPhones.
It’s good to know there are apps for just about anything these days - including international espionage.