Directed by Brad Bird. Starring Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg.
The fourth installment in a series I haven’t really been that interested in still hasn’t gotten me to sit up and give it any applause or cheers.
A TV series about a secret government agency, cool gadgets and exciting missions, Mission Impossible was a great show for its time. Today, gadgets and stunts are everywhere and you really need to do something special to get people’s attention. MI4 does the opposite. Gadgets fall apart, the IMF (Impossible Missions Force) is disbanded and disavowed (basically washing hands of it), and it’s left to Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his small team to save the day from a Russian mad man called Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist) threatening nuclear terrorism, a very stale concept. In fact, the whole film gives off a feeling of being outdated and old. Things don’t work, people are jaded, retrieving a detonation key suitcase from a parking lot takes ages for Hunt to accomplish, there’s a backstory about his mysteriously disappeared wife, which we don’t care about.
Yes Tom Cruise looks great for his age (almost 50) but you can see the jaded look on his face in some scenes where he’s like, okay we are beating a dead horse here: the message that doesn’t self-destruct gets a thump from Hunt and then disintegrates.
His team of Brandt (Jeremy Renner), Benji (Simon Pegg) and Carter (Paula Patton) form the other central characters. Pegg is suitably funny and provides the comic relief quite well. Renner is a bit dull. Patton is quite sassy and fun but there really isn’t much depth to any of the characters. It’s like they’re going through the motions.
Director Brad Bird’s debut in feature films (he’s an animation director, remember Ratatouille, The Incredibles and The Iron Giant) isn’t a failure. Everything you’d want in an action film is there technically, it’s just the oomph is missing. Producer JJ Abrams has given the film a slick look (except the end bits shot in India) and the stunts are quite good. But no dazzle or finesse. The end scene where Hunt battles Hendricks in a parking lot (clearly not in Mumbai, considering the South Indian lettering all over the place) is so boring and plodding. Most anti-climactic. And I’m sorry, even the scene in Dubai where he climbs the Burj Khalifa is not awesome. Maybe in IMAX the impact is better (didn’t get to see it in that format).
India’s Anil Kapoor plays a Billionaire Brij Nath (screen time of about 5 minutes) who must fall for Paula Patton’s Carter and reveal secret satellite codes to her. As Indians we may find him foppish and silly in this character but you could just chalk it up to the way the filmmakers wanted him to play it: smitten rich school boy who likes getting slapped on the wrist by a pretty girl.
The filmmakers have tried for hints of Bond but didn’t quite get even close.