‘Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol'
“Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol” achieves the rare status of being the best installment of a mainstream action series on the fourth try, building on the renewed energy J.J. Abrams injected into 2006's “M:I:III.” Director Brad Bird, known for Pixar standouts such as “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille,” moves “Ghost Protocol” forward with a strong storyline and real emotional stakes, and the team led by Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) completely gels — there is more chemistry between Hunt, returning gadget guru Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), and newcomers Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) than in the teams for any previous “M:I” film.
This time out, the story is simple and coherent. Ethan and Benji get broadsided during a mission to extract secrets from the Kremlin when an explosion levels the complex, and because the Impossible Mission Force had agents there, Russia and the United States are on a crash course toward mutually assured destruction. The real culprit is Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), a former Soviet military adviser who believes nuclear war can restore world order. Hendricks has the intercept codes, which sends the team to exotic locales such as Dubai and India in an effort to recapture the codes and stop Hendricks.
The instantly iconic sequence from “Ghost Protocol” features Ethan spider-walking on the outside of the tallest building in the world, Dubai's Burj Khalifa, and the recurring motif throughout the film is that technology constantly fails IMF — they are forced to overcome multiple glitches through sheer intelligence and physical ability. Cruise is back in top form in “Ghost Protocol” and Renner, ostensibly the heir to the franchise, proves he is up to the task, though after the success of Bird's installment, it's hard to imagine Cruise exiting the series. In this Blu-ray + DVD set, a second disc dissects the best action sequences — Cruise actually did much of the stunt work on the Burj Khalifa. These extras explain but do not demystify Bird's methods, and the end result of these unusually valuable making-of segments is admiration for Cruise, an actor who did more to earn his salary on “Ghost Protocol” than most stars could fathom.