This is the fourth in the Mission Impossible series and it reboots the concept, rivalling the first instalment, and is far better than Missions Two and Three. The choice of Brad Bird as Director was risky, inspired, and has paid off. Bird’s credits are with tv series, and animation on television and the big screen, but he is best known for his work with the Simpsons. That he handles the action so well is a pleasant surprise, the delight is the humour he brings to the film with Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn being given a full supporting role, and injecting a comic element which freshens the story considerably. In several scenes he steals the glory from Tom Cruise, and this enhanced role will surely be an essential ingredient in the next film. He plays Dunn as a youthful Q in the James Bond series but more dynamically than simply as a techno-geek.
Hollywood’s desire to penetrate emerging markets is much in evidence here. A substantial chunk of the film is set in Moscow, Russia is not the bad guy (nor is the United States the good guy per se)and there are enough Russian sub-titles to facilitate a Russian language version with English subtitles. Almost as much screen time is devoted to Mumbai too where the film reaches its climax in a shameless attempt to woo Russian and Indian audiences.
Particular credit should also be given to the role of women in this film. Paula Patton, as Jane Carter proved playing opposite Denzil Washington in “Deja Vu” that she was a very accomplished actress. Here she has a wonderful role as kick-ass agent resolved to avenge the death of a colleague and honey trap. She looks absolutely gorgeous in a powder blue shift dress and jacket, but is deadly too when she kicks off her heels to get down to business. Lea Seydoux, fresh from her success in Robin Hood, has an equally satisfying role as Sabine Moreau, an icy cold assassin on the bad guys team.
The set pieces are uniformly excellent, the opening break out from a Russian prison is particularly well choreographed and staged. Mid film Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt takes stunts to new heights literally, with a human fly scene at the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the film ends with two action sequences in India. The latter, although well played cannot trump the Dubai stunt, but then again there are a lot more people in India to watch the film than Dubai!
A justified criticism is that the plot is pure James Bond, the bad guys steal Russian weapons codes to start a nuclear war with America putting America in the frame by setting up Hunt and his team as fall guys. Furthermore Michael Nyqvist’s role as chief villain Kurt Hendricks is utilitarian rather than character driven so we don’t get a convincing good v evil showdown, but the story itself works satisfyingly enough. Curiously Ving Rhames briefly reprises his role Luther Stickell for a couple of odd minutes at the end which add little to the story, perhaps more was left on the cutting room floor?
In summary a faithful, action-packed and buoyant return to form with a very welcome new comedic dimension to it. Cruise’s maturity in giving Simon Pegg more space in the story, and a willingness to be prepared to act his age, rather than a screen twenty five, does him much credit. I also applaud the fact that the iconic theme tune remains unchanged and the message , should they choose to accept it, still self-destructs in five seconds. The standard for the next instalment has been set high!