thu 25/07/2024

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol | reviews, news & interviews

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Vertigo, jokes and big bangs in fourth MI outing

Jeremy Renner (top) and Tom Cruise practise extreme window-cleaning in Dubai

Fifteen years after its debut edition, the fourth instalment of the Tom Cruise MI franchise is louder, higher, noisier and even more ludicrous. However, there are saving graces. Simon Pegg, playing the gadget-nerd Benji Dunn (pictured below), is given a surprising amount of scope to throw in episodes of tension-relieving farce, while Jeremy Renner brings both grit and wit as the secret service bodyguard William Brandt who finds himself roped into Cruise's crew.

Even the notorious control freak Cruise occasionally gives the impression that he can see the funny side, as if he's murmuring to himself that the role of Ethan Hunt really is a job for a younger man. But of course in the Mission: Impossible universe of super-gadgetry and reality distortion, anyone can do anything, the most spectacular proof of this being the scenes where Cruise scales the outside of the Burj Khalifa building in Dubai. It's the world's tallest structure and seems to reach virtually into space, and the shots of Cruise clawing his way up the vertical glass sheen of its exterior using a pair of magnetic climbing gloves is enough to send vertigo sufferers into convulsions of panic (especially the bit where one glove suffers a power failure). If you can see it on an IMAX screen, it's truly blood-freezing.

There's a neat punchline too, when Cruise finds himself hanging down the side of the glass precipice at the very end of a rope, twisting in the wind. Renner leans his head out of a window into the howling gale, and tells him brightly that "the rope's not long enough". Cruise's reply - an exasperated "no shit!" - is his most memorable moment since "show me the money" (Ethan Hunt's Impossible Missions team, pictured below). 

It may not surprise you to learn that profundity of characterisation has been neglected in the flick's cascade of set-pieces, but they didn't hire Brad Bird for his expertise with Restoration drama. Bird made his name with the animated features The Incredibles and Ratatouille, which so impressed Cruise and co-producer JJ Abrams that they offered him this shot at directing his first live action project.

It may be Bird's sense of the absurd that has perked Ghost Protocol up, and he relishes manipulating scenes of outlandish scale and complexity. The movie opens with a brief but intense preamble, in which agent Hanaway (Lost's Josh Holloway) slaughters a crowd of villains while falling off a tall building, then is belatedly undone by a passing blonde assassin (Léa Seydoux) who steals his bag of nuclear weapons codes. This causes consternation in covert official circles, but before Cruise can be summoned to save the world, he has to be sprung from a Russian jail. This is achieved largely through Dunn's mischievous computerised tinkering with the alarm system and automatic locks.

Things turn really ugly when some blighter blows up the Kremlin, sending lumps of masonry and onion-shaped domes spinning into the air as if this were a Russian 9/11. The Mission: Impossible squad get the blame and are disowned by the US government, who implement the "Ghost Protocol" which means that they no longer officially exist. Despite this, they seem to suffer no shortage of fantastic techno-tomfoolery and advanced weaponry (girls are loud: Paula Patton, left, and Léa Seydoux, pictured below).

Their chief opponent is mad scientist Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), a "nuclear fundamentalist" who believes that what the world needs is some selective annihilation by atomic warheads to prompt regenerative growth. The race to stop him getting the codes and blowing up the planet involves much intercontinental travel (though we never see Cruise and his chums having to remove their shoes at airport security) and several cunning scenarios. The most ingenious is a mirror-image scene where Renner and Cruise (in one hotel room) and their colleague Jane (the fitness trainer's wet dream, Paula Patton, in another) enact a simultaneous double bluff.

The movie is, like most modern blockbusters, far too long, and runs out of steam in the later stages when there's nothing else happening except a megalomaniac plotting Armageddon, like all those fourth-rate James Bond movies (usually starring Roger Moore) that blur into one. You also can't help wondering if Renner wouldn't have made a better Ethan Hunt than Cruise. One day, maybe he will.

  • Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol goes on general release on 26 December

Watch trailer for Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol


Things turn really ugly when some blighter blows up the Kremlin, sending lumps of masonry and onion-shaped domes spinning into the air as if this were a Russian 9/11


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Explore topics

Share this article


Good fun - the sandstorm and skyscraper sequences are by far the best. I agree it gets a bit laboured by the end but it's a fun ride. 3*

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters