Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol review (Blu-ray)

After Mission Impossible III was released to positive reviews few knew what was in store for the future of IMF agent Ethan Hunt. Even with the the film managing to gain some reputation after the loathsome John Woo instalment it was still overly mysterious, wasted a potentially fantastic villain and sent our lead character into a rather dull romance. So your mission now, should you choose to accept it, is to sit through the newest chapter simply titled Ghost Protocol. (Because no-one likes using the number four in sequel territory.)

Ethan Hunt and his new team are implicated in a global terrorist attack. America is accused of orchestrating the bombing after an IMF (Impossible Mission Force) agent is caught at the scene of the crime. The US Government initiates Ghost Protocol and disavows the entire IMF agency. Agent Hunt and his rogue team must go undercover to clear their names. With no backup and limited resources the team must find the real culprit and of course, save the world in the process.

I must admit going into the film I was very unsure of what to expect. With a title that sounds more like a video game and a director whose only previous work has been animated it's clear to see that this was a gamble, one that paid off. The moment the trademark theme music kicked off the movie I was hooked. The plot and task for our team is relatively straight forward but that doesn't weaken the film at all. There is a bad guy, he's about to cause a really bad disaster, we need to stop him. Without any romance to distract our lead character the films focus is streamlined onto the objective and plays to the movies advantage. Surely if the IMF are disavowed Ethan Hunt has bigger things on his mind than a fling.

The cast themselves do a great job. Cruise is working his charm overtime whilst delivering a rather determined agent Hunt, Paula Patton gives a solid performance with her character dealing with quite a dilemma, Plus Simon Pegg is granted the opportunity to build upon his previous performance and is given time to shine as the comic relief who can also shoot a gun if need be. Jeremy Renner is a strong addition to the party but I did feel his mysterious back story wasn't quite as interesting as I'd have hoped, feeling a little forced at times. When you take that gang and combine them with exotic locales, innovative gadgets, lively car chases and death defying stunts you've got the ingredients of an excellent spy movie.

Bringing me to the showpiece moment of the film with Mr Cruise atop the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (2,723 feet) When witnessed in IMAX the entire sequence is simply jaw dropping. It reminded me of the strength of the format and quite simply bigger is better.  It's a truly remarkable cinematic experience that will have those of you not confident with heights gripping onto your seats. Unlike the vague impact the 3D medium has had this is a movie that MUST be seen in IMAX.

Brad Bird has shown some great skill with this project, the pacing is excellent and well thought out with the stakes being raised at just the right moments to keep you riveted to the events unfolding. Plus I credit Bird for keeping the camera stationary for the spectacular stunts granting us the opportunity to see what is going on. Unlike recent frustrating Bourne and Bond films that have had shaky cameras obstructing the view of a car chase or fist fight.

So with some great surprises, a predictable but solid villain and some of the best action sequences I've seen all year Brad Bird has managed to inject some steroids into the franchise, delivering the best of the bunch. It's left me longing for some more adventures of Agent Hunt, the only problem is how do you top a stunt on the tallest building in the world?

EXTRAS ★★★ OK, whatever you think of Tom Cruise as an actor, or even as a human being, it has to be said that the man has balls of steel. There is a featurette on the disc – Heating Up in Dubai (17:35) – that shows the shooting the scenes where Cruise is climbing the Burj Khalifa. OK, he's in a harness, and wires, but he's genuinely outside the building, 140-odd floors above the ground. Massive, massive respect to the man. The rest of the bonus material consists of: the behind-the-scenes featurette Vancouver Fisticuffs (12:03), which features more Cruise stuntwork; the featurette The Sandstorm (3:06); the featurette Props (3:14); and deleted scenes (5:12), with an optional commentary from director Bird. A decent enough package, but a feature-length commentary from Bird and Cruise would have been nice.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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