Action? Check. Kick-ass soundtrack? Check. Edgy, futuristic technology that could only be conceivable in a “Mission: Impossible” (or Bond, same difference) movie? Check. Impossible mission to rejuvenate a long-drowning franchise? Also check. It seems like director Brad Bird (“Ratatouille”) has done the unthinkable — breathed life into a franchise that started with noble intentions and then with, every passing sequel, slowly but surely dug its way into a very dark abyss. Alas, no more! Tom Cruise (“Knight and Day”), along with the franchise itself, are back with a bang.

Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol

At Quality 16 and Rave
Paramount


But let’s talk about Cruise for a minute. There’s no doubt the man has still got what it takes to be Ethan Hunt. And yet the current state of his career has often come into question. This installment of the “Mission: Impossible” series makes one realize just how much of this anti-Cruise bias stems from his personal, not professional, life. Because as far as this film was concerned, no twenty-something could have done a better job as Hunt.

The funny thing is, who would have thought Brad Bird would be the man to shoulder the weight of both a faltering franchise and megastar on his shoulders? Directing a non-animated movie for the first time, Bird spared no expense in finance or imagination. From one of the best prison-break scenes captured on film in recent years, to the extravagant, unimaginable bombing of the Kremlin and subsequent action sequences, this movie is action-packed and breathtaking from start to finish. Add in Cruise’s 130-floor climb on a window using nothing more than two magnetic gloves and some snazzy, sneaky devices of which Hunt and his team have no shortage, and you’ve got yourself a perfect blockbuster.

Yes, this movie really does make an impression. But hey, the series had nowhere to go but up. As Hunt travels across the world in search of the stolen nuclear missile launch codes that could end mankind, we are taken along on a thrilling adventure thanks to a snappy script and some impeccable cinematography. Listen up Hollywood — this is how you use IMAX.

This is also how you choose a cast to support Tom Cruise. Granted, the spunky Jeremy Renner (“The Town”) wasn’t able to showcase even half of his talent. But no one’s kidding around here, Renner knew what he signed up for — “Mission: Impossible” is Cruise’s baby. Paula Patton (“Precious”), who came across as a stereotypical action-film seductress in the trailer, has so much more to offer. She went from being heartbroken at the death of her partner to vengeful with surprising ease. And who can forget the eternal funny man Simon Pegg (“Paul”)? Pegg, oh Pegg, how many superlatives synonymous with “funny” can we associate with his name? It’s hard to say whether he was impressively funny, or not-so-impressive for doing what he always does best.

But the real surprise in this film, or not a surprise if you’ve seen the Swedish version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” was Michael Nyqvist. If Cruise’s protagonist was the fearless daredevil, Nyquist’s antagonist was equally frightening as an emotionless crazy man hell-bent on inducing Armageddon with nuclear power.

Bird’s previous animated ventures probably had some hand in the success of this film — after all, animated films have recently fared better than live-action features in both direction and writing. “Ghost Protocol” is a fun, spiffy action movie that ranks among the best of its kind this year. At the very least, it made “Mission: Impossible” and Tom Cruise hot again. Bird and Cruise can sit back with a smug smile — for them, this film is a mission accomplished.

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