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Saturday, December 17, 2011


Release date in India:
December 16, 2011
Brad Bird
Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Anil Kapoor   

Uh oh! If a star of Anil Kapoor’s stature had played a role as small as this in an Indian film, he would have been respectfully credited for a “guest appearance”. Unfortunately, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is a Hollywood film, and so Kapoor’s name comes rather high up in the credits although he appears in a barely-15-minute portion of the film pretty much towards the end. He looks handsome and makes an impression, but it’s hard not to feel short-changed at the microscopic duration of the role, particularly after having seen him play such a central character in the hit international teleseries 24.

But that’s just one of the many things I found disconcerting about the fourth film in the MI series. The last half hour of the film is set in Mumbai but it’s laughably evident that the actual time spent shooting there was very little. And so, limited shots of Mumbai’s streets are interspersed with shots of other places pretending to be Mumbai. But the mismatch between the real and the fake Mumbai is so glaring and the research is so poor (I think I even saw some signage in Kannada) that it’s irritating.

You may argue that authenticity is not the hallmark of films in the MI genre. But action is, isn’t it? MI4 has its share of well-executed stunts, but they’re not as much as we’re used to expecting from this impossibly crazily fun franchise. Sadder still, the pacing of the film slows down considerably towards the second half, making Ghost Protocol the least exciting film of the series.

The story is as convoluted and incredulous as usual. IMF Agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has been assigned by the US government to infiltrate the Kremlin and recover details of a rogue Russian official nicknamed Cobalt. Hunt’s team for this daredevil mission includes agents Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg). They’re close to completing the task when the Russians are alerted to their presence within the Kremlin, and as they escape, someone triggers off an explosion in the complex, leading the Russians to believe that the US is on an undeclared war against them. To reduce escalating tensions between the two countries, the US government officially disavows the IMF, but unofficially instructs Hunt to track down Cobalt. Without the support of the organisation, with limited equipment and information at hand, Hunt & Co set off on a transcontinental adventure that covers the UAE and India to stop Cobalt before he sets off a nuclear war, no less.
The action scenes right at the start are impossible – but of course – and hugely entertaining. The tricks used by Hunt and team to break into the Kremlin are vintage MI, combining ingredients that keep us both amused and thrilled. But the pace and the director’s imagination seem to slow down considerably as the story progresses. We all know that films of the James Bond, Die Hard and MI series require a suspension of disbelief. The trick for the director is to keep the stunts coming at the audience at such an unrelenting pace, that we don’t have the time to think. Unfortunately, in the hands of Brad Bird (critically acclaimed director of animation films, here making his live action debut) Ghost Protocol gives us too much time.
The sequences shot in – and on – the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building situated in Dubai, are completely awe-inspiring. The portion where Cruise is shown running and crawling across the exterior of the building is particularly stunning! But there’s not enough where that came from.  
Cruise is cute as usual, and amazingly agile especially considering that he’s 49. Patton fills out her clothes very well, and sure knows how to throw a mean punch. The deserts of Dubai look striking under cinematographer Robert Elswit’s eye. There is a nice little emotional twist thrown in involving Hunt’s wife. And the film retains the series’ trademark sense of humour and willingness to laugh at itself. So yes, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is fun in parts, but MI has done better before.
Rating (out of five): **3/4
Release date in the US:
December 16, 2011       
MPAA Rating (US):
PG-13 (for sequences of intense action and violence)
CBFC Rating (India):