Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ghost Protocol

While most people spent New Year's Eve celebrating in some way, I actually pretty much holed up in my room and watched all six Rocky films, which was great as I haven't seen any of them aside from I and IV, so I got to see the whole story arc unfold over the course of a day. It was one hell of a journey and I intend to write a bit on each of the flicks.

However today is dedicated to Brad Bird's Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol.

My viewing of the Mission films actually occurred pretty late, having not seen any of them until well after M:I 3 came out. At some point while digging around the house I saw that my dad actually owned the first two movies, and later that night I found the third one in a blowout bin for 3 bucks so I picked it up and began my journey into the M:I world.

I enjoyed the films very much, seeing them all as great pieces of popcorn entertainment. What I found more interesting however, were the filmmakers behind each of the flicks. The directors of each of the movies were, at least in my opinion, some of the greatest talents in their field. Just as the Alien movies have this amazing pedigree, so too does the Mission franchise. My absolute love for Brian De Palma is no secret, but then you throw in the greatest action director alive John Woo and modern day geek maestro J.J. Abrams and that's an impressive resume.

I always saw the Mission films as escapist fun, and I'm sure each of the director's knew and followed that form stepping in. However, each of the movies had their own strengths and weaknesses. The first Mission had a plot no one could follow, but also carried with it absolutely breathless suspense, as well as a classical spy feel. The second is almost cartoonishly goofy, but it had John Woo's amazing action direction. III finally had a story you could keep up with that made you care about the characters, as well as a great villain in Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but it lacked the, I guess elegance that the more experienced De Palma and Woo brought.

Finally, the fourth installment has released, Brad Bird was chosen to helm and he is yet another extremely talented and loved director. I really liked Mission I and III and liked certain aspects of II, but Ghost Protocol is the first film in the franchise to feel complete. It takes all the strong points and elements from the first 3 and combines them to create a film that is frankly leaps and bounds above the others.

If one were to study Bird's prior films, they would notice that his strengths in characterization and action are really among the best out there right now. So what if the movies were animated? Frankly it's ridiculous that in this day and age many still look at animation as an inferior art form, used only as children's entertainment, or as crude sitcoms. Regardless, he has always had strengths as a director that would lend themselves greatly to adventure or suspense films.

Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol has both. It is without question the best of the franchise and in my opinion, one of the best pieces of big screen entertainment I've seen in a long time.

*Note: Among other things, this movie has a sequence in which Ethan Hunt scales the world's tallest building. It is absolutely edge of your seat mind blowing and actually gave me a bit of vertigo. This scene alone is worth the added price of admission for an imax ticket.

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