Ethan (Cruise) is broken out of a grim Russian prison by old colleague Dunn (Pegg) and new IMF agent Carter (Patton). But why was he in there to begin with? And why does his next mission result in a bombing of the Kremlin that's blamed on the IMF, which is now in Ghost Protocol mode: dissolved and vulnerable. To clear his name, Ethan, Dunn, Carter and analyst Brandt (Renner) head to Dubai and then Mumbai to stop megalomaniacal peacenik Hendricks (Nyqvist) from triggering a nuclear war.
In animation, Bird can put his cameras anywhere he wants, so he does exactly the same thing here, whirling around his characters as they indulge in outrageous scenarios from the Kremlin explosion to a gyrating finale in a 20-story parking garage, by way of a gratuitous climb up the glassy exterior of the world's tallest building as an even more gratuitous sandstorm approaches.
The characters seem impervious to pain, gravity or emotion as they charge through each set-piece, hurling gleaming BMWs to their spectacular doom then walking (or perhaps briefly limping) away to continue the chase.
All four of these films have built on the TV series' action-fantasy style, outdoing even the Bond movies to take us on a thrilling ride. And Cruise still fits the role: an omni-talented super-agent who always seems to have something going on besides his current world-saving mission. This time the subtext is provided by Renner, who's enjoyable as a guy with a dark connection to Ethan.
By contrast, Patton is merely eye-candy while Pegg provides constant comical patter, although both do those jobs well.
The only thing missing is a sense of momentum. The film's visual style is consistently electrifying (especially action scenes shot in the Imax format), the banter is frequently hilarious and the continual stream of amazing gadgets is amusing. But the film also has a kind of by-the-books feel, so perhaps the next surprise-choice director will blast this franchise in a new direction.
Run time: 133 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 21st December 2011
Box Office USA: $209.4M
Box Office Worldwide: $694.7M
Distributed by: Paramount Studios
Production compaines: Paramount Pictures, Bad Robot, Skydance Productions, TC Productions
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Fresh: 212 Rotten: 15
IMDB: 7.4 / 10
Director: Brad Bird
Screenwriter: Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec
Starring: Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, Jeremy Renner as Brandt, Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn, Paula Patton as Jane Carter, Anil Kapoor as Brij Nath, Josh Holloway as Trevor Hanaway, Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell, Miraj Grbic as Bogdan, Ivan Shvedoff as Leonid Lisenker, Samuli Edelmann as Wistrom, Michael Nyqvist as Kurt Hendricks, Léa Seydoux as Sabine Moreau, Michelle Monaghan as Julia Meade, Tom Wilkinson as IMF Secretary, Tammy Hui as Julia's Friend