During the opening credits for the latest big screen outing for the impossible mission-seeking Ethan Hunt, four words fill the screen: A Tom Cruise Production. Never have credits been so accurate because what follows is exactly that.
MI:4 is two plus hours of Tom running, and jumping, and running, and falling, and running, and beating up guys five times taller than him, and running, and jumping, and running some more, all the while looking impossibly cool for someone less than a decade younger than my dad.
Chances are, if the image from the poster of Mr. Katie Holmes in a hoodie wasn’t enough to detract you from entering your multiplex, then the idea of a Tom-fest is okay by you. If so, you’re in for the most enjoyable and clearest Mission: Impossible yet.
But again, that’s only if you like watching Tom run and jump and run and fall and run…
The cause for Tom flexing his muscles this time around comes courtesy of a ‘Pesky Russian’ intent on starting a nuclear war between the Kremlin and the Whitehouse and blaming Ethan Hunt and co for it. These antics by ‘Pesky Russian’ means the entire IMF is disavowed. Banding together a team consisting of Spaced boy Simon Pegg, Precious Girl (not the big one although that would be amazing) and Hurt Locker Hawkeye, Tom/Ethan sets about stopping the apocalypse the only way he knows how. You guessed it, running and jumping and running and…
A new Mission: Imposible film may have never been the top of anyone’s must make list but new director Brad Bird handles his first live action feature assuringly. His background in animation makes him a wise choice for the set-pieces and comedy, both dolled out in equally confident doses.
The crux of the latter comes courtesy of our very own Mr. Pegg, who seems far more comfortable this time around. With Benji given the freedom to tag along on missions, rather than be chained to a desk, the film allows his (surprisingly not annoying) brand of bumbling Englishman to bumble like the best of them. Think Peter Sellers rather than Rowan Atkinson.
Then there’s the set pieces. Perhaps it was the addition of the gargantuan IMAX screen, (if you can find it in 70mm, do) but the incredible stunt-work outside the 3000ft tall Burj Khalifa building in Dubai was, and we don’t use this phrase lightly, simply jaw-dropping. It’s rare to see something that actually causes you to grip the edge of your seat in fear and hope – especially when the characters are as unrounded as the IMF agents – but this soon-to-be-classic sequence does just that. Kudos to all involved.
It’s when scenes like this are handled so well that the rest of the film falls by the wayside in comparison. With something like Brad Bird’s previous, The Incredibles, we’ll happily suspend our disbelief. For all things pixelated we’ll play along with every near death experience. Audiences of live action fare aren’t so forgiving.
So while the building set-piece works a treat, too often MI:GP will have you rolling your eyes at the “that’ll never happen” nature of events. Too often Cruise is an inch away from certain death. At last count he survives three separate car crashes in the space of 133 mins. Each one he walks away from comfortably.
But then after all, this is ‘A Tom Cruise Production’. And Tom don’t scare.
Far more enjoyable than the fourth outing in a fairly weak franchise should be. If you can, see it in IMAX. Not just for the stunning set-piece (singular) but for the wonder of seeing that in-studio peado from the Brass Eye Special holding his own against the Cruise on a screen the size of the moon. Nerd done well, indeed.
Release date: Monday December 26th
Cast: Tom Cruise (Jerry Maguire, Top Gun), Paula Patton (Deja-Vu, Precious), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Town), Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Star Trek).
Director: Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille).
Screenwriter: Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec (Alias) based on the television series created by Bruce Geller.
Running Time: 133 mins.