Saturday, December 17, 2011
#257: MI4 Ghost Protocol
There's something called a set-piece in football. Which means that the ball will be stationary before the next action kicks in. So either a free kick or a spot kick whereby players get to choose who should be their preferred striker. This allows the team to prepare well in advance and once the strategy comes off right, it looks quite good. The thing about set pieces though is that a team cannot sorely rely on it to pull through every match. The team still has to still have a solid defence line, a midfield that wins plays at crucial stages of the match and a couple of a dynamic strikers. The thing with Ghost Protocol is that it tries to rely solely on set-pieces to see it through and in the process comes across, carrying on with the football analogy, a team that is pretty ordinary overall.
Ghost Protocol begins with an interesting premise where Agent Benji (Simon Pegg) and Agent Carter (Paula Patton) along with Ethan Hunt (Cruise) infiltrate the Kremlin. Predictably, things don't go to plan and the team is disbanded with no authorizations for future actions. This leaves Hunt and team on their own to set about a mission that could avert a possible nuclear war between US and Russia. Yes, you heard that right- the oldest cliched trick in the book- avert a nuclear war. And that's just about the start of things that's unimpressive about Ghost Protocol. The writers have nothing special to offer in terms of surprises. What comes through as a winner are those set pieces- some gravity-defying action scenes that get your pulse racing along with a sequence of mistaken identity that is crafted like a true blue espionage mission. On the performances, Simon Pegg pulls his weight through in an otherwise serious film with his comic timing. Paula Patton is a welcome visual relief in a film all about men and action and Jeremy Renner makes a solid appearance in a supporting role. Cruise is convincing once again as a blue-chip agent while Anil Kapoor does little of note playing a caricaturish rich Indian billionaire.
Director Brad Bird doesn't quite stitch all the elements well enough to keep you glued to your seats. Even if you leave the multiple cinematic liberties aside, no single scene or character touches you enough to think about the film. An action film can attempt to become a classic if the bad man is really bad, like we saw in The Dark Knight or even Terminator2 and this film's antagonist is hardly brutal. It goes back to the set-piece theory because the characters are not quite etched out well. The background score by Michael Giachino and Lalo Schifrin however is as good as any of the previous editions and is one of the redeeming features.
Overall, Ghost Protocol has little in terms of ingenuity or appeal, at best perhaps a home DVD watch. To call it anything more would be an exaggeration.