Open on a male model-like “agent” being chased across the rooftops of Budapest. He bears a slight resemblance to Tom Cruise, but is in fact not Tom Cruise, which leaves you a little curious as to why you’re not seeing the star of the film. Said male model (Josh Holloway, a.k.a. Sawyer from Lost) fumbles his way off the roof, somehow managing to shoot his pursuers, albeit clumsily. He turns the corner, gets a text message and then is shot by a female assassin. End.
Cue the real film. Despite the first sequences being fairly cheesy, there is much more substance to the majority of the movie. It has good comedic timing, copious amounts of tension, and it most certainly does not take itself too seriously. Full of thrills and spills, you’re left at points clinging to your seat in a bit of a sweat, it’s so nerve wracking.
The writers have aimed high with the stakes, stating that the entire world is in danger from the threat of nuclear war. Almost a little too high, as it seems a mite unbelievable, but I’ll forgive them that as it’s more than its predecessor had to work with (sorry, J.J., but more needed to be made of the ‘Rabbit’s Foot’, in my opinion). Despite the over-reaching plot arc, some of the feats the team take on border on brilliant and they are well executed with humour and flair.
There is a lack of characters known and loved from previous films, in particular, Ving Rhames - despite a very brief uncredited cameo - and Maggie Q. What with her role as Nikita, she could’ve more than held her own, particularly in this setting. Paula Patton was good as Cruise’s female counterpart, but her performance needed more confidence and gumption. I was highly surprised by Jeremy Renner, however; he graciously takes the part of supporting male to Cruise’s lead, bringing a depth of emotion that was somewhat lacking elsewhere. The real (comedy) star of the show was Simon Pegg. Our countryman did us proud, with his witty banter and bumbling heroics. He even looked cool brandishing a gun and taking out one of the bad guys. Pegg appeared to have rubbed off on Mr Cruise, as he has finally learned to laugh at himself. He’s all the better for it, too.
With a healthy nod to both Apple and Pixar, Brad Bird certainly put his stamp on the film, making more of the team element that was present in the original television series. This is his first venture as a ‘real time’ feature film director, as his previous credits are all animations (albeit damn good ones). There is a hint of referencing which takes place throughout, which could be his doing: the intro, paying homage to Bond films and the Great Escape prison gag, amongst others. His use of gags and mishaps is something fresh and new for what is usually a very straight-faced and stoic theme.
Ghost Protocol is an explosive, action-packed rollercoaster ride, which will have you smiling pretty much all the way through. A few plot lines out of place here and there, but they’re easily overlooked with all the excitement that’s packed into it. If you’re looking for something to entertain your brain, this is the one for you.
Oh, and 500 points if you spot the A113 reference somewhere in the first half of the film. No, I’m not telling you where.