Friday, December 23, 2011

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol. A-

So often people come away from a movie saying it has a lot of action, but they rarely say it has good action. Because the action sequence has lost much of the spice of the old days in exchange for blandness, moviegoers now see action, regardless of its quality, as a good. People no longer seem to care if action is composed with any grace or care. Nobody except nitpicking critics complained that The Dark Knight had generally poor action sequences. People simply see it as a means to jolt their senses, to get them going, to keep them watching. So why does the new Mission: Impossible film stand miles above any action movie in recent years when its plot is pretty conventional? Because Brad Bird, who made a great action movie in The Incredibles (and also showed his guns a bit in The Iron Giant) recognizes action scenes as a craft, not a cheap path to an adrenaline rush. So we don't leave the theatre saying, wow, that movie had a lot of action (though it does), but rather in awe of a stunning Dubai sequence or an inventive moving car garage battle. That is to say, we remember the action scenes, the details, and exactly why they made our pulses race. One of the cheapest tricks these days is the explosion, which is an extremely bland technique (it's really just filling the screen with fire and loud noises) used to, in a way, shake the ground beneath the viewer. Ghost Protocol has one big explosion, and it ends almost as soon as it begins. See, Bird doesn't want to waste time on action formula. He wants to invent, to make a mainstream movie the way they used to be made. Namely, to make it more than disposable entertainment. I'm a big fan of the Mission: Impossible movies. They're a great fit for Tom Cruise, and they also have all had interesting directors for each mission. Ghost Protocol is my favorite by far. It's not just an action movie, but an action spectacle.

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