MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL is the fourth entry in the popular Mission Impossible series starring the amazingly talented Tom Cruise (VANILLA SKY, COLLATERAL) as the bad ass agent Ethan Hunt. Each new installment in this series has been significantly different and GHOST PROTOCOL is no different. Brad Bird (THE INCREDIBLES, THE IRON GIANT) makes his live action directorial debut and continues the trend of having a brand new director for each installment. This time around IMF (the agency Hunt works for) is shut down when it’s implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin in Russia. With no one to turn to, the remaining members of IMF must go rogue and clear their organizations name before another world disaster. While GHOST PROTOCOL may not have been my all time favorite film in the franchise (that honor goes to MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3 easily), it sure is a fun ride and a welcome addition to the series.

Tom Cruise is the man. Always has been, always will be. I make it no secret that he is my favorite actor. While a lot of readers out there may disagree, I don’t really care because he is one hell of an actor and an action superstar. If you don’t agree check out his performance in VANILLA SKY, COLLATERAL, and/or MAGNOLIA before you make any final judgements. As always, Cruise does all his own death defying stunts which make his action movies much more immersing than most. Cruise brings a great performance here as the IMF veteran Ethan Hunt. While he may not have the energy and intensity he did in MI3, he more than shines here as an agent on the run. In the end, his screen presence is as strong as ever, this is an extremely likable character, and he has his fair share of bad ass moments to please action fans.

While this is obviously a Tom Cruise vehicle, the supporting cast here really shines and everyone does a fine job playing their part. Besides Cruise, our main players include Simon Pegg (PAUL) who returns from MI3 as Benji the tech smart supporting agent, Paula Patton (DEJA VU) as the tough as nails IMF field agent with revenge on her mind, Jeremy Renner (THE HURT LOCKER) as a mysterious IMF agent with an unknown past, and Michael Nyqvist (THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO Series) as our main Russian baddie. The chemistry between the main good guys Cruise, Pegg, Patton, and Renner really shines here and they all play off one another very well. No one relationship felt forced or unnecessary. I enjoy the subtle comic relief we get from Pegg, the bad ass chick mentality we get from Patton, and the mysterious wild card that Renner plays. It is a bit obvious that Renner could potentially replace Cruise as the leading man even though I hope it never comes to that. I really enjoyed watching these characters work together and thought the overall concept of how they all got put together worked. While Nyqvist as the bad guy was serviceable, it was by no means as memorable or passionate as what we got from Philip Seymour Hoffman in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3. That said, the whole cast here deserves good credit. It is also worth noting that Josh Holloway (TV’s LOST) has a short but bad ass role here as a fellow IMF agent. That dude deserves more roles!

I really enjoyed the concept of a handful of agents banning together without supervision to complete a necessary mission. This concept and story line was a refreshing change of pace for the series and really mixed things up. GHOST PROTOCOL is tonally most similar to the first Mission Impossible movie in that it grounds the characters a bit more and shifts most of its focus on spy and espionage rather than balls to the wall action. GHOST PROTOCOL also shares a considerable amount of similarity to this past summer’s FAST FIVE. Both films involve a rag tag team of rouges that must work together and kick ass in order to save the day and their asses. Comparing an action movie to FAST FIVE is most definitely a good thing and I am glad to see action movies hitting the theatre of this caliber.

The main reason I come to a Mission Impossible movie, besides confirming my man crush for Cruise, is the action! MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL is a high energy action film that is grounded enough to be believable. While I highly enjoyed all of the action scenes here, I must admit I could have used a bit more. By no means did this film lack action, it’s just that the action we got was not as epic as I had hoped for. Maybe I hyped this film up too much in my head, and maybe I will enjoy it much more at home on Blu-Ray where I can really take in all the sights. I admittedly saw this film on an IMAX screen and I was in the third row from the front. Everything, including my peripheral vision, was dedicated to this film for 2 hours and 13 minutes. I would have liked to sit back further and agree that I would have gotten more out of the experience if I had the chance. My little rant aside, the action does deliver, there are a handful of very memorable moments, and the overall pacing was spot on. This is still an above average action film that was an absolute blast. I especially enjoyed the scenes involving a chase throughout a large sandstorm. Not a dull moment to be had with this one folks.

While MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL may not have blown my mind like I had hoped, I did walk out of the theatre satisfied with my experience. I really would have loved to sit back in the IMAX theatre a little bit to take in all the fast paced action, but this by no means ruined my experience. The story here takes off right away and the pacing never skips a beat. Cruise and his supporting cast do a fine job and play off one another very well even though the main villain was a little 2-D for my liking. And the overall action was good fun with a handful of memorable moments. Overall, this film is a huge success. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL stands as a welcome addition to the franchise and I would love to see more installments in the future.

Final Score: 8.5 out f 10