The familiar threat needs only sentences to establish—a despicable villain is determined to obtain nuclear missile codes and to launch a warhead, target—USA. Meantime IMF (Impossible Mission Force) agent Ethan Hunt languishes in a Moscow prison, but he'll soon break out with IMF agents' help. His mission, should he choose to accept it, sends him after these detonator codes to avert catastrophe.
We know the drill, but director Bird's presentation rejuvenates and invigorates every twist and turn of the nonstop action from Budapest to Moscow and Dubai to Mumbai. As Agent Hunt, Tom Cruise uses his impressive athleticism to exciting ends. He chases in cars and on foot, he runs, falls, flees, climbs, ducks, clings, flies and crashes beautifully. Cruise does the lion's share of his own stunts, and this makes a huge difference. For Bird relies on close-ups to communicate the visceral thrill of the vertiginous staging on the tallest building in the world in Dubai and many other sequences I won't give away. Having shot in IMAX—THE way to see this film to appreciate it—Bird thrusts the viewer into suspenseful confrontations with great devices.
As Agent Hunt's team members, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg and Paula Patton nicely complement Cruise. Renner, of Hurt Locker fame, brings a gravitas and a conscience. Patton adds sex appeal to her physical toughness and grace, and Pegg injects needed comic relief to his computer savvy. Pegg's reaction shots and one-liners relieve the tension, while a few other good jokes involving the expected self-destruct of the "your mission" command and the love of masks show a welcome self-mockery.
The title Ghost Protocol comes from the knowledge that the entire IMF team has been disavowed, will receive no backup support, and must operate on its own, adding one more element of pressure, as if it needs it. Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol is two hours plus of exhilarating escapist entertainment. At area cinemas.