Director: Brad Bird. Paramount/Skydance/Bad Robot/FilmWorks/Stillking Films/TC Productions
Producers: J. J. Abrahms, Brad Burke, Tom Cruise. Writers: Josh Applebaum, Andre Nemec. Camera: Robert Elswit. Music: Michael Giacchino. Sets: James D. Bissell.
Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Vladimir Mashkov, Ivan Shvedoff, Anil Kapoor, Lea Seydoux, Josh Holloway, Ving Rhames, Tom Wilkinson.
After the Kremlin is blown up, Ethan Hunt’s (Cruise) IMF agency is implicated and officially disbanded. Forced to clear their name, Cruise and his team (Pegg, Patton and analyst Renner) turn rogue to catch the real culprits and restore the lustre to the name of the Impossible Missions Force.
Now limping home with the fourth instalment of the blockbuster franchise, surely co-producer Cruise could have the title changed to something more factually correct – as we have now established that these missions are in fact completely and utterly possible.
One thing he should definitely get changed is the title credits sequence – sometimes these can make or break a movie, either setting the tone for what is to come with artistry the following film can sometimes struggle to match or being completely forgettable so as not to detract from the feature or the movie’s budget. Here, they are the film, summarising the whole movie. For those who don’t close their eyes, the plot on its own is somewhat superfluous.
M:I4 treads a well-worn path to audience satisfaction; the satisfaction deriving from the remarkable stunt work, a good deal of which (it is said) is performed by the star. Forget the ridiculous and overly convoluted narrative structure (employing multi-layered flashbacks), the fun as with the other films comes not from why Cruise et al solve the problems they are faced with, but more with how they do this and what gadgets and trickery they employ. Here we have a dizzying array of invisibility screens, balloon cameras and levitation chain-mail suits to fix the audience’s eyes and ensure the nonsense jibber-jabber the characters utter flies conveniently over their heads.
They also make those aforementioned stunts seem just slightly more plausible, but none the less incredible to watch. The piece de resistance here is Cruise’s stomach-jumping traverse and run around the outside of the world’s tallest building, Dubai’s mighty megalith the ‘Burj Khalifa’. If you don’t suffer from vertigo before watching this scene, pre-book yourself some Cognitive-Behavioural therapy sessions for when you have.
Cruise is looking too long in the tooth to be shilly-shallying from skyscrapers, which might explain the preponderance of ‘young uns’ supporting such silly geriatric antics: Hurt Locker‘s Renner gets second billing as the shifty analyst with a few secrets up his sleeve, sexy Patton scores well as a thoroughly self-reliant tough girl, Pegg provides the comic support and well-haired Kapoor is also amusing as an oily Indian playboy of a certain age. Lost‘s Holloway pops up briefly as an IMF agent who meets his end in double-quick time.
The series is looking as tired as its star, but there is clearly some mileage still left here – the constant product placement of a certain Apple invention (IMF systems are seemingly built around them) shows there is a lot of money still to be milked from this cash cow.
Rhames, who starred in all of the previous MI films, appears here uncredited as the same character; Wilkinson likewise eschews creditation in a brief cameo as the IMF Secretary. Monaghan, Cruise’s wife in MI3, also rears her head again.