Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol Review


It’s time to look at the next installment in the Mission Impossible series. This one was the big return to greatness for the series and just brings together all of the good things into one package. The film starts out great and just continues on that path for the whole duration. It is certainly a little funny to see Tom Cruise’s name pop up 3 different times during the opening credits, but I guess they have to show that he is the main character here somehow. While it just barely gets edged out by film 5 for me the two are almost indistinguishable.

The film starts off with Ethan Hunt in prison as the IMF work to break him out. This also involves letting a bunch of prisoners free as well so you’ll probably feel bad for the guards who weren’t exactly prepared for this. The group lets Ethan know that someone is trying to steal a bunch of nuclear codes and is looking to end the world. Ethan quickly gets on board and the best way to find the villain is to break into the deal that Hendricks is having with professional assassin Sabine. Sabine knocked off the IMF agent who had the codes and she wants some diamonds for it. The heroes will take part in both meetings to confuse the two parties, but will the situation go as planned?

Plan A always fails in these kind of thrillers so you always want a plan B. Ethan is good at adapting on the fly at this point since he’s an old hand by now. He’s been on a ton of missions and does as well here as in the previous missions. He did a great job of following Hendricks through the sandstorm even if the villain got away in the end. His fights throughout the film were solid and you never feel like he is in over his head. You may wonder why he is back in the field permanently instead of retiring, but I’ll assume this was the price for the deal that he made with the IMF. Definitely not a very nice deal, but one that I wouldn’t put past them.

This is the first Mission Impossible film where the rest of the cast is really helpful as well though. Jane knows how to fight which is certainly good since she ends up fighting Sabine. Sabine didn’t do quite as well in that scuffle as I thought she would, but that speaks to Jane’s ability. Considering that her character may not return, she did a good job here. If I had one complaint about her plot it’s that naturally the team had to use her charms to get intel on the villains. It seems as if this is a curse that happens to all female agents at some point or another. Fortunately the scenes weren’t too long or drawn out as they would have been in a different film. Benji also gets a big role but as always he tends to cut everything very close. The heroes were nearly thwarted thanks to him. He’s a good comic relief character and I don’t mind him. It would be nice if Benji would eventually panic less and get used to the whole thing though.

Then we have William who is a new character and easily the best addition to the series. The mystery around him is enjoyable since the guy is a top notch fighter yet he’s kept in the background for desk work. I’d definitely volunteer for the latter though since the field agents keep dying left and right. William may be a little more by the book than the others which causes him to doubt their risky plans at times, but his heart is always in the right place. If he had decided to go against the heroes and sabotage everything then that would have destroyed his character. I don’t fault him for having doubts though.

The villains aren’t quite as memorable as some of the others, but they aren’t bad. It was nice to see an assassin get thrown into the mix because I imagine that they would be tough for the IMF to handle. You never know when they will pop up and they should have a good amount of skills as well. Sabine made for a fun antagonist. Then we have Hendricks who can’t really fight as well as any of the other villains, but he is dedicated to his cause. He certainly did everything he could to keep the case from Ethan even if it was all futile in the end.

As you’d expect from the series Mission Impossible is full of nonstop action. The characters are constantly running or driving around the place. It’s what makes the franchise so fun since there is rarely a dull moment. The only times the film slows down is when the heroes decide to discuss a plan or in this case for William to reveal memories from his past. The whole story behind Ethan’s plot and why he was locked up was pretty interesting. I’m glad there was a twist about that since it would have been needlessly tragic, but it’s certainly a story that would be very believable either way.

The soundtrack is nice and fast as well. While it’s not quite as rock solid as Mission Impossible II’s, it still has the classic tune and fitting themes for whatever scene is occurring. None of the themes will ever take you out of a theme and if the film gets quiet then it is certainly intentional. The movie doesn’t miss a beat and all of the technical aspects are on point. The special effects are solid and it’s nice to see how high tech the equipment gets during these films. I do feel bad for the masks though as they never seem to work anymore.

As mentioned earlier this film gives the complete IMF team more to do than the previous ones. While it is cool to see Ethan take out whole armies on his own, it does make sense that his teammates should be equally talented to be a part of such an outfit. Seeing everyone get to contribute is good and it never feels cheesy since their tasks fit their abilities. At the end of the day Ethan will still be performing his crazy stunts and engaging in a lot of fights so those aspects won’t change. Now he just has to share the spotlight a bit.

Overall, Ghost Protocol is a really fun film. It definitely won’t come as a surprise to you that the government is once again shutting the IMF down though. The group has had a tough time of keeping its organization free of traitors in the past so it could be a liability at times. Since they have to keep disavowing everyone as well it probably looks suspicious from the outside as well. It’s good that the group are so good at their jobs though. I highly recommend this film whether you are a fan of the franchise or are just looking for a solid action film. Between the great writing and the rapid pacing there is something here for everyone. I’m definitely looking forward to the new film that just came out!

Overall 8/10

Spectre Review

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I saw this film a while back so this review’s been on the back burner for quite a while at this point. Needless to say, I was not impressed and Spectre is a big drop from Skyfall. It tries to play out like the old James Bond films and that’s a bad thing. Not only is it not long enough for this film to be considered nostalgic like with what Creed and Star Wars are doing (Nostalgia in the sense that it brings back old scenes/plot references to get a rise out of the audience in an epic way) but it just brings up all of the reasons why I never liked the films in the first place. Brace yourselves because things are about to get real.

James Bond is on the hunt for an organization known as Spectre. They’re a worldwide terrorist organization that is bent on committing as many crimes as possible. Bond’s own MI6 is being taken over by a new company that wants to take control of all spy programs across the planet so the agent is on his own. Gee, I hope that the company is on the up and up though. Having complete control over the planet’s surveilance programs is a lot of power is one guy’s hand after all. Bond is so good that he still has a lot of high tech equipment at his side even without the company and he gets close to catching up to Spectre a few times only to be evaded at the last second. He’s going to need his old pal Q if he wants to come out on top!

The film is very long so the plot changes rather dramatically as the film progresses. Let’s just get the negatives out of the way first so we can discuss the characters and the film itself. For starters, the romance and objectification is back in full force for this feature. The opening credits are terrible and show why the James Bond franchise will never be respectable and why it will never be a good one either. The romance plots here are all terrible, forced, and simply unnecessary in the grand scheme of things. A widow who lost her husband about a day or two ago quickly gets over it and decides to move on to Bond. Granted, she didn’t seem to like the guy much and he was a villain, but it’s still not cool. It’s also hard to see her getting out of the place alive since Bond just left her with a phone number for an embassy.

One person is never enough so Bond also goes to the daughter of an old villain, Madeleine. She’s the main heroine of the film and while she tries to act like the tough heroine at all times, it didn’t take her long to get past the friend zone with Bond. The two characters keep on splitting up and getting back together throughout the entire film, which ends up being a plot line that drags on and doesn’t contribute to the film. It also makes the characters make some poor decisions. For example, Madeleine says that she’s had enough of Bond so she walks away to a dark alley during a tense moment where the villains are on the loose. Lo and behold, the villains kidnap her. Who did not see this coming?

There’s also the fact that even the fight scenes aren’t as enjoyable as they used to be. Remember when fight scenes were about slugging it out and just being the last man standing? That’s not how it goes now as the villains immediately go for eye shots, which makes for a long grapple where the villain will either succeed or fail. Instead of being an enjoyable bout, it turns into a fight that’s grimacing to watch. I’ve always been partial to eye shots and just don’t like to see them in my fights. Unfortunately, they tend to occur quite frequently nowadays.

This film is also pretty violent at times like when one villain pulls the eye shot on another. It’s a painfully long scene meant to show us how sinister and evil the villain is..but we already knew that. Everyone in the theater knew that these guys were evil already. We also get a long scene where the main villain drills through James Bond for a while before the agent is finally able to get free. The extra edge factor is not needed. It’s like adding a 6th cheese to a 5 cheese pizza. At that point, it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference.

All right, we’ve mostly gone through the main negatives at this point. Now, onto the characters! James Bond is actually very out of character here compared to Craig’s previous roles. Unlike the other Bonds, he was never overly interested in women to the point where he would flirt with everyone. He preferred to be detached from everyone and we only saw his affairs once in a while. Here? Nah, he’s back to being the original Bond. Who needs continuity when you have nostalgia moments for the fans right? Unfortunately, it destroys any chance that he had of being likable and Bond is a terrible main character. It’s good that he decided to leave MI6 once it was getting corrupt, but at the same time, he should have failed in his mission. My suspense for disbelief can only go so far as Bond managed to evade everyone for around a year. (I forgot exactly how long the timeskip was) Bond is a little tougher here than he was in Skyfall (The most embarrassing film of his career) but he still continues to lose to random guys with steroids. What’s the point of mastering hand to hand combat if you’ll get wrecked by any joker with super strength? I don’t fully understand! Ah well, his loss.

Ernst is the main villain and another intellectual whose only gimmick is that he can talk a good game. That’s it. He can’t fight and Ernst is only relevant because he has a large organization to back him up. While strategic villains can be all right sometimes like Light Yagami, most of the time I want the main villain to be able to fight back. Otherwise, it’s hard to take him seriously no matter how much hype the guy gets.

As far as the heroines in James Bond films go, Madeleine is a big improvement. If we ignore the romance parts, then she’s a decent character. She actually knows how to fight and isn’t afraid to use a gun. Madeleine has good reason to be upset with Bond as he gave her father a gun and basically assisted in the guy’s suicide. Certainly a less painful end for the guy since Spectre was going to destroy him, but it still doesn’t change the fact that James gave him the means to an end. Madeleine was too indecisive though and could not make up her mind no matter how great the stakes were.

Q is still a good tech person even if it’s hard to forget the more classic versions of the character. He’s younger and has less respect for Bond, but it’s very hard to respect 007 so I can sympathize. His inventions aren’t bad and Q does help a little during the film. At least he’s a loyal friend so that’s always good. I can respect Q as a character. M is probably my favorite character in the film even if he talks a little too much. He spends most of the climax bragging even though C manages to get the upper hand on him. That’s considering that M had the advantage of surprise. Again, he was too busy bragging to even consider that C might try to tackle him. C has no real fighting experience, but he can still give M a good fight, which probably isn’t a good sign for the old guy. I liked C as a political villain. I always love seeing politics even if it made everyone look bad. The CIA and the FBI aren’t so unintelligent that they would fall for this trap. Seriously, letting someone control their agencies? Hahahahahaha.

As far as the length is concerned, James Bond films are always a little too long so I can’t say that I was surprised. It’s still not a good thing though as the film does tend to drag on from time to time. It’s not as bad as the Hobbit where I would be on the verge of ZZZs though. I’d never really get that tired from James Bond with all of the explosions that were around, but it would have done well to have cut out a good chunk of time if you ask me. It may sound like a stretch, but a good 30-40 minutes could easily be shaved off.

While I was not very impressed with the fight scenes, I still enjoyed the nice car chase scenes. Those are always a lot of fun and it’s why films like Need for Speed and Fast & and the Furious always have potential. With a nice night backdrop to add some hype to the race, you can really never count a race out as being the best part of a film. It certainly was here even if Bond’s car should be a little faster considering that it’s a one of a kind machine that was built by Q.

Still, the film just couldn’t live up to the hype from the trailer. I figured that I wouldn’t like this film, but the trailer still hinted that this could be the best Bond film yet. I like the idea of an evil organization like Spectre and Bond having to face them all. It could have been so epic, but the film just never pulls this off. Even from small things like the organization having to remind us that they’re dealing with human trafficking (Again, we know they’re evil so why the extra details?) or the first action scene taking place in a packed area where the locale isn’t as vibrant and interesting as a city backdrop, the film couldn’t get as hype as it should have been.

Overall, I’m definitely fine with this being the final Bond film in the Craig era. Maybe it’s just time to give the franchise a long break and then we can check on it again in like 20 years or so. That’s definitely not a bad idea if you ask me. Listen to the reviews this time folks and just skip out on this film. If you want a more enjoyable theater experience, then go check out Creed or the new Mission Impossible. Mission Impossible continues to be a better secret agent film series than James Bond and at this point, the gap is so wide that I don’t see this changing in the near or far future. Game over Mr. Bond.

Overall 2/10

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation Review

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Mission Impossible has always been a fun series and I was looking forward to this film. It was one of the few films that I thought had a chance to dethrone Pixels. It turns out that this wasn’t a very tough feat at all, but the film did not disappoint. Aside from Age of Ultron, this one’s easily the best film that I’ve seen in theaters this year from the live action titles. Off the top of my head it manages to dethrone MI 4 and the original film as the definitive best title, but it has been quite a while since I’ve seen those.

Ethan Hunt has been helping the IMF for quite a while, but it cannot be denied that there is typically a lot of collateral damage. As such, the organization is disbanded and the CIA claims its assets. Ethan goes off the grid to try and learn more about a shadow organization that has been committing acts of terrorism across the globe. Months later, Ethan has finally gotten a solid link on the adversaries and calls in one of his old partners, Benji, to help him with this fight. Together along with a member of the Syndicate (Shadow Organization) who claims to not be loyal to the cause, the three heroes embark on this perilous journey.

Naturally, this is the kind of film where you don’t really want to trust anyone. The characters could turn on each other at any minute and what’s a Mission Impossible film without a few twists and obstacles? That being said, if you believe in the Hollywood style enough, you should be able to see through most of the film’s deceptions. Now, why was this film a cut above the rest? It all goes down to a few elements.

For starters, the writing is good in this movie. As it’s essentially a battle of wits between Ethan and Solomon, the writing needed to be good or things could have gotten pretty dicey. Both characters try to stay one step ahead of the other, although it’s a much tougher task for Ethan since he has no resources for most of the adventure and has to make do with what he’s got. Solomon also has an entire organization to back him up.

The action scenes are pretty fun. There’s a motorcycle race between Ethan and the villains as they all cruise along at top speeds. Ethan has experience in all speeding vehicles so he’s definitely prepared for such a challenge. It’s definitely the best action sequence in the film and does a good job of showing Ethan’s skills as an agent. There’s also a car chase and then the stunt scenes like Ethan going underwater or hanging onto an airplane. Those were all fairly well done and holding one’s breath for so long is a good feat.

The hand to hand battles are also nice and fast paced. They’re a little more violent than the older films as the heroes literally break their opponents a lot of time. For current fight scenes, the trend is to hear the bones breaking and put a lot of emphasis on when the heroes pull a General Zod moment, but it never gets too over the top and you can still appreciate how skilled Ethan is when he’s fighting off the opponents.

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m definitely a big fan of the character. Ethan’s been a consistently solid agent since the first film and his skills have improved. He’s not portrayed as being invincible in hand to hand combat as a random thug was overpowering him in a fair fight, but he makes up for that with his other skills. Like James Bond, Ethan has a license to kill and he gives it a real workout here. He’s essentially a legal assassin so you shouldn’t expect him to take any prisoners. It’s simply not his way. That being said, compared to other secret agents who do whatever they want in the process of completing the mission like James Bond or even Jason Bourne, Ethan is simply better at the job. He’s far more professional than James Bond and I’d say that he’s smarter than Bourne.

That being said, the film probably does rub our nose in it a little too much. I don’t believe that Ethan could successfully follow the Syndicate around the world for months without his government status. He somehow manages to also stay one step ahead of the CIA along the way and makes himself a base filled with lots of high tech equipment. I definitely think that it’s a stretch, but Mission Impossible is all about doing the impossible so it’s not something to think about too much. Plot hax is always around if you know where to look.

While Ethan is easily my favorite character in the film, I also like Brandt. He’s the connection on the government side of things and he almost could have been the main character if not for Ethan always stealing the spotlight. He acts like a leader and he’s quite skilled although he’s no Ethan Hunt. Without Brandt helping with the legal aspects of the situation, Ethan would have likely been doomed. Benji is a big player in this film, but I can’t say that I’m a fan. He’s not a bad character, but I feel like he doesn’t really add anything to the film except to be there for when Ethan needs an extra man. I would have preferred Brandt to have been the co-star, but he was definitely needed in the CIA plot.

Another one of Ethan’s friends, Luther shows up during the film. After the opening scene, he essentially vanished until the halfway point or maybe even later. He’s good and his computer skills are top notch. He doesn’t get much to do compared to the other members, but he helps out when the team is in a pinch. The leader of the CIA was a fairly likable character and you couldn’t help, but root for him at times. He always meant well and looking at things from his perspective, it’s hard to deny that he made some good calls. Destroying the IMF? It’s probably a good idea, but he would need to have a backup squad ready ASAP before the villains got any ideas.

As for the villains, let’s start off with Solomon. He’s actually a good villain who thinks things through and did a good job of outsmarting the heroes for a while. He has one “intimidation” scene that will make you wince and/or roll your eyes, but that was the only scene where he wasn’t impressive. I like how he turned the whole “Should you accept it” speech around on Ethan. He did it twice, but the first time was certainly the best moment. It really came out of nowhere and while we knew that the villain would make a move, it’s safe to say that nobody expected it to be so epic. It made the wait for the rematch that much more epic.

There were other villains like the “Bone Doctor” who gave the film some fights. Beyond them, the other big character would be the heroine, Ilsa. Throughout the film, you have to decide if you will trust her or not. I give the film some major props for not trying to turn her into a love interest for Ethan. That would have been pretty terrible and most films make that mistake, but not this one. Ilsa is used for some slight fanservice in one or two scenes, but it’s slight at least and not played up. (As it would certainly be in a lesser film) Ilsa’s a good character, but at the same time, she doesn’t think about her current situation enough. She takes a whole lot of risks for her country, but it goes into dicey territory with how unnecessary a lot of them are. She should realize that she’s just being used and act accordingly. Ilsa also came close to destroying Ethan on several occasions and you have to wonder if she meant to or not since depending on the answer, it does make her look bad. On the bright side, while it was at the expense of the British, the American Government looks nice and fair by comparison this time.

Rogue Nation has a lot of intense action scenes, but it’s also a lot of fun throughout and has a similar upbeat tone to that of The Avengers. People in the audience cracked up when the M16 chief got shot because of his extremely mild/dazed response. The film also has a good amount of witty banter about it. It never turns into full on comedy mode, but has enough light moments to keep you entertained throughout the film. It’s only around 2 hours, but the film really crams in a ton of content so the movie is always going.

I have to note that the film also uses a retro effect that I haven’t seen some time. Remember a few decades ago when the opening credits of a film would show scenes from the actual film that hadn’t happened yet? This one does that as the credits were rolling and it’s interesting. I’m actually not a huge fan of this since it’s showing you scenes that are about to happen, but I suppose that it could be a good way to generate hype. I dunno, I’m still against it, but it’s worth noting.

One thing that I liked about the ending was who the new recruit to the IMF was. It’s the perfect situation since as long as this person remains in the shadows, the IMF can do whatever they want. Of course, with no one to check on them, the IMF has to be very careful that they don’t go down a similar path like the Syndicate. As mentioned several times, Ethan is a gambler and the IMF takes a lot of huge risks. They will fail sometimes, but at least they still save lives whenever they enter the field.

Finally, I can’t forget to mention that the soundtrack is really good. The opening theme that played sounded an awful lot like a Terminator remix and then we also got the classic MI theme a few times during the film. It was a great selection of themes to be sure and they helped to make the film even more fun than it could have been. It’s safe to say that no other live action film this year will be able to defeat this film except for possibly Star Wars and even that only has a really slim shot. Mission Impossible is just too fun a franchise and can hold its own with any big title.

Overall, Rogue Nation is another win for the Mission Impossible series. On the record, I believe that it is the best MI title to date, but the series has had a good track record of aging well so it’s possible that the older titles will age slower than this one and overtake it. We shall see, but I don’t see myself lowering this score anytime soon so they will have to catch up to it. With fun fight scenes and an epic soundtrack, this film had all the tools needed to be a winner. There are a lot of things that can happen in the next film since it’s essentially a clean slate right now. If you want to check out an action film, this is the perfect one for you.

Overall 8/10