Friday, January 13, 2012

[Freya-dæg] Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol

Ah, Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol. The Imax really made those gadgets shine - but maybe that shine hid something a little less glittery.

Well, being otherwise standard thriller fare, the gadgets definitely do mask a lot. But, for all of its cold war tone and everything that went with that it was kind of neat. Characters were all over the place it seemed, but I'll get to that in a minute. So. The good.

First, cool tech. Really cool tech, actually. The screens, and that magnet/metal suit plus the magnetic rover. That was just really really cool. Yeah. Definitely.

And the surprises that were built into the plot from the beginning were also pleasantly surprising. The fact that the wife was alive rather than the evil master mind or ultimately the hostage with the big bad, that was good. Quite good - though the fact that she seems to be around but...they can't be seen together? They can't be all husband and wife because she's supposed to be dead? It seems like it's kind of meaningless.

I mean, they're both alive and there's some kind of...muddled reason for them not being able to be together it seems. That much makes sense, but what's the point. They're both alive, but then it's just like a permanent distance relationship. Nice, but with no final pay off. Because, as one in a distance relationship that seems to be a major point of it. One day, we will be together.

Anyway, the other good thing, surprise wise, is that the guy who is essentially a mole isn't working for the enemy but rather was there when the lead's wife was allegedly killed. That was pretty nicely done, and did make some good sense. Yeah.

In the end, the only other good thing was that not *all* the Russians were evil. The arms dealer was kinda good and bad. And the agent tagging along after Ethan Hunt was good, all around good, actually. So that was nice, for something that appeals to cold war sensibilities.

Since that's really what the movie was all about - cold war sensibilities. US versus Russia. Nukes. Only one man and his small team stand between the world and total destruction. So. Yeah. Absolutely cold-war. They even refer to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Something that most younger people probably don't even know about.

But as per the rest of the movie? It was standard thriller fare. The Characters. The Characters. Oh, lord, the characters. They really needed to be more fleshed out. So. there's the lead, Ethan Hunt, who is the immaculate hero, never scarred, always healing super quickly. He can be excused because that's a fixture of the genre. Though I will say that they should make body armour out of whatever is on Ethan Hunt's face instead of human skin - that stuff can take some punishment and just never break apart or bruise. Geez.

But the others? Simon Pegg's character - uh...Laughy McComicRelief...? - Also can be excused because he was basically there as the primary laugh source.

But the woman. Jane Carter. She saw her lover die in her arms and believed that the female assassin (Sabine Moreau) arranged for this to happen. Did she think that the woman knew that she was the other one on the mission? The field commander? Carter is never really shown to have any real reason to think so.

Moreau (the female assassin) doesn't really give any reason for getting back at the lead woman at all when there is a confrontation either. So there's no reason that's clear for the lead woman to think that the assassin left the lady spy's lover near dead to make her suffer - she probably just did it for the sake of giving him a torturous death.

Further, that Carter's anger is directed to the guy that she's supposed to seduce makes no sense whatsoever. Why has she been able to hold it back for so long? Why does she lose control around him?

I agree that the loss of a loved one would make anyone angry but if she's professional enough to keep cool up until the point where she needs to turn on the sexy, then why not be able to keep cool while doing so? This makes no sense to me. If anything, Carter should have snapped at Hunt, with whom she supposedly has a thing by the end of the movie, she could project those feelings onto him as her affection switches to him. After all, at the end there's a look and a smile, and then suddenly, oh wait - his wife's still alive. This hinted-at affection also makes the whole wife-alive-thing seem completely senseless.

But the other guy. The other agent, William Brandt, his character was less imperfect, but his fearlessness before the reveal of his past and then his doubt and hesitancy after the fact makes little sense.

He is this cool character up until the revelation that he was involved with Hunt and the death of his wife in the past. But then, after this revelation, he becomes hesitant and sarcastic - he gets relegated to second comic relief guy. He and Pegg work together for the jokes from that point onwards and that's it. So as a non-agent he's all super cool because of the mystery, and then after he reveals himself as an agent the mystery is lost and the character follows suit. This is what ultimately damns this picture for me.

The movie's combination of cool tech, the fact that the writer(s) avoided using the "dead wife appears as villain/hostage" cliche (in spite of mishandling the rest of her presence here), and the presence of some good Russians to avoid painting them too broadly are all redeeming features. And Simon Pegg is good as the comic relief, but he's so much more than that he can do so much more (see Shaun of the Dead for example). And even though it's hard to write women for action movies, Carter seems to be paranoid and have anger issues - but not as part of the plot, as part of some bad writing. And then there's the other agent, Brandt, who just turns around completely as a character for the last act of the movie.

So, Freya, rest assured that even the Imax can't save this one. Leave it where it lay. Or rather, since 93% of critics and 86% of audience members liked it on Rotten Tomatoes, see what you can do about getting it back to the body heaps on Midgard.

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