I’ve never really been a fan of spy movies. Unlike most people I despise watching action scenes and for a seventeen-year-old, my hearing is pretty shot (thank you, earphones!), so you could say I came into the theater not very eager to see another installation of Mission Impossible, especially with the ever-so likable (I’m being sarcastic here) Mr. Cruise.
But then, people change, and so did my first impressions about spy films, formidable film franchises, and Tom Cruise in general upon watching MI 4: Ghost Protocol.
Unlike most films that tend to leave the action for the middle of the film, MI 4 lives up to the previous films and exceeds expectations in terms of the ‘action’ factor. It does not only give us the action, MI’s fourth installment levels up in terms of location, taking viewers on a tour of Asia as the film progresses. There’s not much action without stunts, and Cruise’s rock-climbing clearly leveled up as well. From scaling the Grand Canyon (I think) in MI 2, he takes viewers on the edge of their seats scaling the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Most of us might probably remember Cruise’s iconic scene in the first film, which is a prominent characteristic of the MI franchise. It wasn’t Cruise who performed the act this time, though, as the Hurt Locker’s Jeremy Renner took over from Hunt.
Plot-wise, the film necessarily at par with its grandiose action sequences, yet it recovers with well-written, straight to the point dialogue with a tinge of humor, something most people wouldn’t find in spy films. But then, what good is a witty script without witty actors?
Mrs. Thicke a.k.a. Paula Patton is cast well as Jane Carter, an IMF agent who joins Cruise’s character on a mission with an ulterior motive (revenge). Patton portrays the role with the right amount of sass and smarts, but seems to lack the oomph that most would find in Bond girls. Briton Simon Pegg provides the right amount of comedic relief for MI 4, and yet he clearly fits into the role of the tech guy much better than MI’s previous tech agent Luther Stickwell (Ving Rhames), which is, in essence, a well-balanced diet of geek+swag. Rhames wins out in the ‘swag’ factor, though. Renner is a newcomer to the cast, but he doesn’t necessarily fit into the analyst role, nor does he seem enigmatic enough for his character.
Yet despite the minor faults of strong and supportive co-stars, it is Cruise who brings the MI franchise full circle. Despite his age he still looks like the same Ethan Hunt we met in the first film, wrinkles aside. Save for a few nonsense stunt scenes, he gives his audience nothing but entertainment, and its this kind of acting that gives the MI films life. The franchise is nothing without Cruise.
So it makes one wonder whether or not Cruise will pull a Rocky Balboa, or whether he’ll know when to really give the franchise its much needed end. Yet considering the success of MI 4 and its warm reception from critics, there is no doubt we’ll be seeing MI5 in theaters sooner than later, and needless to say we’ll be excited.