[Editor’s note: This review was finished while the movie was still in theaters, but it got lost in the fray. So, all the IMAX talk probably doesn’t mean much to you now, but it’s still a fun movie.]
You might have seen the footage of mega-star Tom Cruise climbing the outside of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. Or you’ve seen any bit of marketing that has the Burj front and center. But nothing can prepare you for the awesomeness of the final product on a real IMAX screen. It’s a show-stopping moment, skillfully executed and it takes a funny fast-paced action movie and turns it into a must-see event of the highest order.
Ghost Protocol begins with super-spy Ethan Hunt locked away in a Russian prison. There’s a very comical escape sequence before the world saving plot shifts into high gear. It seems some Russian bad guy is about to get his hands on nuclear secrets and he is crazy adamant about causing global annihilation. That might sound heavy, but it isn’t meant to have any real world crossover. It’s simply an excuse to throw our heroes into extreme circumstances. Some films might try to comment on politics or use a bit of metaphor, but this film is solely focused on entertaining the hell out of you, a job it does very well.
Cruise and his elite team, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, and Jeremy Renner, hop from country to country trying to save the world. It’s not the most unique set-up, and I wasn’t always sure exactly what was happening from scene to scene. However, director Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) fills out the thin plot with so many great sequences that you can hardly be bothered to care about the details.
And then there’s the IMAX. Cinematographer Robert Elswit (There Will Be Blood) shoots the major action like he’s conducting a symphony, only he’s using a bulky, noisy camera to do it. At the end of each IMAX scene you’ll feel like applauding. In fact, my audience did, right after the already classic Dubai sequence. The sound design, especially during “the scene,” is some of the best of the year, even more ear-splitting in an IMAX theater.
There’s a subplot involving Jeremy Renner that wasn’t terrible but felt very unnecessary. Sometimes modern films feel a need to explain everything a little too much. I also didn’t care for the sentimental final moments. They felt a little deep for a film that takes pride in its brevity. The villain wasn’t anything special either. Not only is he bland, but the casting is a tad lazy. Michael Nyqvist was most recently a bland Euro-villain in the Taylor Lautner turd Abduction and Hollywood seems to think international stars can only be villains in big budget action films.
Those are small flaws in a very exciting and exceedingly intelligent action film. If you’re looking for something to watch while eating popcorn, then look no further.