Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Removing a stapler in the Mission Impossible franchise probably requires a bunch of cables, some C4, a convertible and possibly a Jumbo Jet, with Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) dangling out of a window at some point or other. And that it be done in 5 minutes or something disastrous happen; such as the staple melting, or more likely, exploding.
The highly lucrative and successful MI franchise returns, with animation director Brad Bird taking the reins. Best known for his films “The Incredibles” and “The Iron Giant”, Bird manages to make this instalment of the “Mission Impossible” series one of the most memorable of the series, even if much of the action appears to be a revved up version from the previous films.
Essentially stitching together action sequences set in Russia, Dubai and Mumbai, the story involves a scientist Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyquist) trying to create a nuclear winter while playing on Cold War fears.
The IMF (which stands for Impossible Missions Force and not that group of economists) is cut loose by the US government, essentially becoming a rogue unit, as Ethan Hunt, along with the help of Jane (Paula Patton) and Benji (Simon Pegg) rush to save the world on their own. They have some help from “The Hurt Locker” star Jeremy Renner as the specialist with a secret named Brandt.
Things get complicated for the sake of supplying action scenes, such as Ethan needing to get into the server room of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, from the outside. There’s plenty of bizarre gadgets on display, including a camouflage device, a suit and microtank that enables levitation, gecko gloves and a whole bunch of BMW convertibles.
Acting wise, there’s nothing to be too surprised about; Cruise prims and squints, and his hair still looks perfectly coiffured even as he breaks out of a Russian prison. He’s so bare bones that there’s very little interesting about him. Patton plays the requisite tough cookie who later has to seduce a lecherous Indian billionaire, played with camp by Anil Kapoor. Renner drags over some of his character from “The Hurt Locker” for his role here, but there’s not much depth to go along with the angst.
But it’s Pegg, the gifted British comedian, with his supply of one-liners and perfect comic delivery that practically walks away with the show.
Bird has managed to make the action scenes flow, without resorting to the distracting artifices of previous directors, such as John Woo’s over-orchestrated slow motion shots. There’s thankfully a lack of shaky cam shots, and Bird lets the scenes have their moment.
The set pieces are big and bold, even if it seems producer JJ Abrams, who also directed the previous instalment, has given Bird a fill-in-the-colours scheme to help him through the movie. Plot holes aside, you’re often wondering why IMF doesn’t just informs the whole world about what Hendricks is up to and make it their priority to put a bullet in his head, rather than go to elaborate measures playing con games to get access codes and a whole bunch of other macguffins.
The aging Cruise, who is 49 this year, should be thankful that Bird has passed his debut live-action directing effort with flying colours. Mission Impossible is often a skilfully done adventure romp, and Bird should feel right at home with the cartoon like characterisation and mind-boggling stunts.