TOM Cruise steps into the shoes of super-spy Ethan Hunt for a fourth time in this week’s explosive adventure Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.
When a bomb goes off in the Kremlin, the entire IMF organisation is disavowed by the government and the attack blamed on Agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his team.
Forced to go rogue to find out who is really behind it, Hunt must rely on his team and the help of secretive analyst Brandt (Jeremy Renner) to bring the real bomber to justice.
But with the threat of nuclear attack imminent, can they stop the terrorist in time?
Director Brad Bird may be a rookie when it comes to live-action movies, but with box office busting offerings like Pixar’s The Incredibles under his belt, his penchant for over the top action finds a perfect home in this ante-upping Mission: Impossible continuation.
Ticking off all the necessary aspects of the franchise (international locales, spy gadgets galore, impossible action), Bird adds his own stamp, under the supportive eye of super-producer JJ Abrams.
Kicking off the action from the outset, the throttle rarely lets up as the team contend with firefights, sandstorms, expensive car chases, nuclear threat and a perilous climax proving multi-storey carparks have never been more dangerous.
But it is the cast which connect the exaggerated action so effectively.
Cruise on form
The seemingly immortal Cruise’s willingness to do his own stunts (despite knocking on the door of 50) is where this Mission: Impossible series addition excels.
Ranging from sliding over the bonnet of a parked car, to dangling off the side of Dubai’s 2716 foot tall Burj Khalifa glass tower; his commitment to performing as many of the stunts as possible himself adds to the suspension of disbelief.
Always landing on the right side of smug, Cruise once again reminds audiences why he is leading man material.
But he is not alone.
Rising star Jeremy Renner comfortably joins the fold as the mysterious Brandt, dishing out plenty of joint-snapping beat-downs as well as getting to try his hand on some IMF toys himself (with one magnetic suit freefall putting a new spin on Cruise’s famous M:I1 vault dangling scene).
And returning from the third instalment is Simon Pegg to offer a dose of comic relief to the proceedings.
Where the film struggles is in the tired premise (Cold War tensions, countdown timer in a large briefcase, etc).
But despite nuclear missile launch code fears being almost clichéd in their overt use, Bird dresses the threat up with enough shiny set pieces and enjoyable commotion to make the 133 minute runtime fly by.
Fast-paced and brimming with action, Ghost Protocol may be the best addition to the Mission: Impossible series so far... should you chose to accept it.
8/10 - Action-bursting fun.