In my Tower Heist review last month, I bitched and moaned at great lengths about the current state of film criticism. I griped (via inspiration from Owen Gleiberman’s essay) that action films are mostly being judged on the It is what it is model. This way of thinking is, to me, incredibly dangerous. No need to go over why (again), but while watching the latest installment of Mission: Impossible, it was precisely that way of thinking that allowed me to defend the movie in my head.
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (the forth in the series) isn’t a game-changer, but then again, it isn’t really trying to be. Its plot is uselessly complicated yet laughably clichéd (there are evil Russians, nukes, and… well, need I say more?), its acting is mostly phoned in and its action is long, loud and frequently exciting. In short, it’s exactly what you’d expect from a Mission: Impossible film.
Now, how is this different from Tower Heist, or, say any of the Transformers films? Why can’t I simply take them for what they are and enjoy them? Because Tower Heist and the Transformers movies are crap. Plain and simple. They’re dumb, obnoxious and more or less incomprehensible. They lack exactly what Mission: Impossible has a great deal of: fun.
There’s something undeniably fun about watching a past-his-prime Tom Cruise scale down and up and around the tallest building in the world, or Jeremy Renner flexing his shit in designer suits, looking all badass and ready to hop-to. It’s amusing to see a chase scene (because every M: I film must have a chase scene) flipped on its head by adding a very thick cloud of sand. Basically, Mission: Impossible is straightforward fun. Sure, the IMAX experience probably helped fuel my joy, but massive screen or not, I had a good time with it.
Now, don’t take my praise as exaggerated – the movie has many many problems. I stopped paying attention to its mindless expository dialogue about halfway through, and hoped the film could entertain me enough with its stunts to make for a useful experience (it did). Tom Cruise is past the point of “so bad he’s good,” because the dude is just plain bad, and the final fight scene is a never-ending bore that’ll have you looking at your watch.
To summize: if you want to spend your $10+ on a perfectly decent action film (or, if you want to take a break from the heavy-handed Oscar bait), Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is perfectly suited for you. Your money and time are well spent, and you can get on with the rest of your day and never have to think of it again; because afterall, it is what it is. B-