Mission : Impossible - Ghost Protocol (Brad Bird, 2011)

What's it about? Some Russian bloke is hell-bent on setting off a nuclear device and bringing about a new world order. Or something. But never fear! Despite being disavowed (again), Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team (pretty Paula Patton, new recruit Jeremy Renner and comic relief Simon Pegg) are on hand to save the day. Now, where do they get those fantastic gadgets?

Is it any good? It's bit like a drunken night at the bingo. Good enough fun if you're in the mood for it, but it does drag on a bit and is ultimately just a load of balls. But an entertaining load of balls, to be fair, with some good action sequences, particularly the tremendous scenes in which Cruise, not content with scaling the outside of the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai, then runs down it attached to a fire hose. All without a stunt double. Pretty impressive stunt-work, you gotta admit. Less impressive is the plotting, which displays scant regard for logic or plausibility, even by Mission:Impossible standards. The team barrel breathlessly from one location to another with minimal explanation and proceed to break in and out of places with ludicrous ease, armed with little more than a dodgy moustache and a reversible jacket at times. The main villain is a piss-poor, sub-Bond, rent-a-megalomaniac who hardly proves a worthy or inspired adversary with his tired explode-a-nuclear-device plans. Yeah, whatever, man. Perhaps the mission for the makers of the inevitable Part 5, should they choose to accept it, would be to write a plot that connects the action sequences with a bit more thought and isn't quite so silly. Having said that, director Bird seems perfectly aware of the inherent silliness and, aptly enough for a man who also directed Ratatouille and The Incredibles, brings a cartoonish quality to proceedings, particularly in the final multi-level showdown which resembles one of those frantic climactic chase scenes from the Pixar films. And he keeps things light-hearted, with a bit of interplay between the leads, which just about passes as comic banter. But that's enough idle chit-chat. What you really want to know is do we get to see Tom running like blue blazes as if the very hounds of Hell were after him? Well, yes, yes we do. He might be getting on a bit, but no-one in Hollywood runs better than Tom Cruise.

Anything else I should know? Apparently the best place to see this was in IMAX theatres to get the full vertigo-inducing effect of the Burj Khalifa scenes. However, I recreated the same effect at home by lying on the floor below the TV and watching it through a magnifying glass. At times I thought Tom was going to fall on top of me. Well, who wouldn't want that? Here's a quick little featurette on the sequence to whet your appetite.

What does the Fonz think? Dumb, but fun. Run, Tom! Run like the wind!

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