Making the Grades
The enduring Mission Impossible franchise continues with the release of the fourth movie in this cinematic series featuring Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt. He leads a team of agents working for a secretive U.S. government organization known as the IMF. Along with computer guru Benji (Simon Pegg), former desk jockey turned agent Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and the lone female Jane (Paula Patton), the group is on a mission in Moscow when things go terribly wrong and they end up being implicated in a major blast that destroys a portion of the Kremlin.
In response the U.S. President initiates Ghost Protocol, essentially rendering the agency invisible and leaving the Moscow group without any outside resources or backup. Yet Ethan is still determined to find the perpetrator who seems bent on destroying relations between Russia and America. Convincing the others to join him for the ride, the team heads to Dubai and other foreign locations as they hunt madman Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist) who holds the power to begin a nuclear war.
Although it’s a well tread plot found in dozens of dusty movies from the past, a good shot of adrenaline laced stunts and scenarios help to make this over-two-hour-long romp fly by. (One scene featuring the tallest building in the world looks particularly amazing on the IMAX screen.) Director Brad Bird, best known for helming animated projects at Pixar like Ratatouille and The Incredibles knows how to make fantastical situations more interesting by allowing his characters to derive humor from their flaws.
Unusual in this movie genre is a distinct lack of profanities and sex. You will still here a handful of mild curses along with a scatological term, and see Jane use her womanly wiles to solicit information from a man, but these elements are relatively minor. However, such content shortages are quickly made up by frequent violent depictions. Many scenes show characters hitting and throwing each other, often accompanied by bone breaking sound effects and bloody injuries. Also, people are shot on screen and others are in continual peril. These portrayals will likely be too frightening for pre-teens.
Still, it’s difficult to find an action film as well paced and well scripted as this one. If you come expecting nothing more from this flick than a visual roller-coaster ride, you may find this fourth mission to be an amusing pick for older adolescents and adults.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.
What is the appeal of the U.S. / Russian conflict in scripts? How does this movie modify the Cold War relationship between these two countries? What new enemies are being depicted in films?
How have terrorist attacks altered the action genre? Can you think of other purely fictitious movies that reflect real world trends? Why does a “reality component” make the story more believable and interesting?
How many product placements can you identify in this film? When technology fails, are the products ever branded with actual company names or logos?