Will someone please tell Brad Bird that making movies isn’t supposed to be as easy as he makes it seem?  In his live action debut, the
director of The Incredibles and Ratatouille shows more skill and energy than many that have been doing this action film thing for decades.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the fourth film in the series based on the classic 1960s/70s TV show, is arguably the best entry in the
series.  It’s rivaled only by J.J. Abrams’ equally energetic third entry.

Abrams stays on as producer on Ghost Protocol and even brought along a couple of buddies from his own spy series Alias to pen the
screenplay.

Bird follows Abrams’ tone; and for the first time in the series, two entries feel somewhat connected.  The first three films could have all
been from different franchises with their radically different styles.

Tom Cruise once again finds himself on the run after a mission to infiltrate the Kremlin goes awry.  His team is framed in a massive bombing
and disavowed.

Cruise is Cruise, no more and no less.  In the third film he got some more substantial material in regards to his new wife (Whom we learn
has since left him).  This time around Cruise is more of the typical action hero, but he’s likable enough as Ethan Hunt.

Ghost Protocol places a stronger emphasis on ‘the team’ and the supporting cast shines here.  Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton along with
the returning Simon Pegg each do a great job and have a lot of fun with their characters.

And like the third film, Ghost Protocol really is a lot of fun.  The writers, along with Bird, seem to have a good understanding of what works
in these films.  The plot is merely a framework to showcase the cool technology, the spectacular and furious action sequences and, of
course, to give Simon Pegg some great comic relief.

Ghost Protocol never tries to be anything more than a great popcorn film and it’s just that.  Whether it’s infiltrating the Kremlin, scaling the
Burj Khalifa in Dubai (Acrophobics beware!), or a high-speed car chase through a sandstorm, there is no shortage of great action material
and Bird shoots them all with skill and intensity.  The editing during these sequences is just about perfection.

In fact, the film is wonderfully paced overall, never stopping for long enough to lose its breathless action momentum.  And despite the
furious action, the film never clubs us to the point of submission.

Frequent Bird and Abrams collaborator Michael Giacchino provides a fun and utterly bombastic score and the visual effects and sound
design are superb.

The one real disappointment is that the film lacks a good villain.  Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Owen Davian was a great baddie in the previous
film and his presence is missed.  Still, Ghost Protocol is so much fun and so satisfying that it hardly hurts the film.

Brad Bird’s live action directorial debut is a rousing success not just as a worthy entry in the Mission: Impossible series, but as first-rate
action filmmaking and popcorn entertainment.  It simply does not get much better than this for fans of the genre.  Bird and company provide
a thrilling, relentless and supremely entertaining action flick that succeeds in nearly every respect.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is, without a doubt, a mission worth accepting.

* * * ½
(out of four)
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE -
GHOST PROTOCOL

Directed by: Brad Bird

Written by: Josh Appelbaum & Andre Nemec

Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg,
Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Vladimir Mashkov

Cinematography by: Robert Elswit

Music by: Michael Giacchino

Released: December 16, 2011; 133 Minutes