Jack Reacher, an Edgy Mystery Drama (Film Review)

Back again in a taught mystery drama, the ever popular Tom Cruise takes on the Lee Child novel “One Shot” in the title role of Jack Reacher.  Expecting a bold action thriller, slow moving suspense filled Jack Reacher doesn’t come near the entertainment of Cruse’s action filled bread and butter Mission Impossible franchise. While my expectations were dampened because I believed it would be like the glitzy fast moving television trailer, I wasn’t completely disappointed. Like most movie franchises, the first one has to begin somewhere. Read more

Rock of Ages, Royal Rock n’ Roll


Get ready to get rockin’ with Rock of Ages, a blowout musical spectacular featuring outstanding performances by actors that take the music world by storm.  It’s an extravaganza of music, dreams and life’s challenges all with the backdrop of the 1980s fight for rock n’ roll survival.  I am still reeling from the soundtrack, acting and presentation of the stage play brought to life on the big screen. Read more

M:I 4 – GHOST PROTOCAL, Breathtaking in IMAX


The word action has many meanings according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, but the definition of the word to me is Mission: Impossible –  Ghost Protocol.  A non-stop thriller that gets so relentless there’s hardly time to catch your breath.  If there’s one spy thriller you want to see on the huge IMAX screen this is it.


The movie opens this weekend only in the IMAX format around the country a chancy way of outdoing the film’s nearest competitor Sherlock Homes 2 opening in all theaters the same day. Both have a lot of energy, cool stunts, an intriguing plot, awesome acting, pinpoint direction, incredible special effects, misdirection, amazing cinematography and I can go on and on about the two, but having seen both my suggestion, SEE BOTH. 


This fourth mission finds the IMF (Impossible Missions Force) out on a limb when Carter (Paula Patton), Hanaway (Josh Holloway) and Dunn (Simon Pegg) get the tables turned on them by assassin Sabine Moreau  (Léa Seydoux) while in the process of intercepting nuclear launch codes.  Now in a dilemma the IMF breaks Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) out of a Moscow prison and puts him in charge of the team. 


Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner

Trying to get to the launch codes now in the hands of the evil Cobalt (Michael Nyqvist), the team enters the Russian Kremlin that gets blown up.  Blamed for the incident, Hunt finds himself an outcast on the run with the clock ticking and Cobalt about to destroy humanity with a nuclear holocaust.


The acting here proves superb with stellar support by Paula Patton as the feisty agent who can show her kick-ass side with some well-choreographed fights.  I especially like her encounter with the assassin Moreau played well by Seydoux in a catfight that was fun to watch.  Along side Cruise, Jeremy Renner does a good job of depicting the newest member of Hunts renegade band William Brandt that comes on board reluctantly after finding himself on the outside due to the team’s ghost protocol. 


Adding a mix of comedy and adroit capability, Pegg’s Dunn has the group guessing while trying to keep the mission on target using his technical abilities. He’s the one who has all the gadgets that make it possible for the team to get into places that are ordinarily impossible. Pegg’s a clown at times, but it is much needed for comic relief during some of the more intense situations.


Cruise does his normal thing keeping the plot interesting with narrow escapes, smooth detection, strong will and his straight no nonsense personality that cracks a little when the moment needs it. His Ethan Hunt’s the leader, the consummate agent and the guy you go to when all else fails.  Although a bit old and a little frail around the edges, Cruise still has the screen presence that makes him famous and especially when he plays the spy, hit man, or secret agent we love to watch.


The action never stops in this thriller helmed by Brad Bird and what a terrific job he does directing M:I 4 with all its twists, tense scenes, explosions and misdirection.  Best know for his animated Academy® Award-winning films Ratatouille and The Incredibles, you would think Bird would play it soft and whimsical, but he blasts out this film without a hitch.  Fast moving, relentless action makes up most all of the film and you would think we were watching explosive directors like Tony Scott (Déjà vu), Ridley Scott (Black Hawk Down), Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes), John McTiernan (Die Hard), and Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) at work instead of a newcomer to the action attraction.


A lot of the action takes place on the tallest building in the world located in Dubai called Burj Khalifa, a skyscraper that houses a hotel, corporate offices, and residences.  The amazing thing about the structure is that Tom Cruise does his stunts on the outside of the nearly 2,717 foot building that not only has a death defying drop but reaches temperatures of over 100 degrees.  Held by piano wire rigging, the actor climbs, swings, jumps, runs and repels down its face at amazing heights. In IMAX watching the stunts from special cameras is like standing on the edge of the world. 


Here is a surprising note from the Paramount Pictures: ‘Proving yet again his lack of fear of heights, sometime during the shoot, Cruise, stunt coordinator Gregg Smrz and a photographer took a trip up to the very top of the Burj Khalifa for a photo shoot.’  “You have to take multiple elevators and even more flights of stairs before you reach the top,” Producer Bryan Burk describes.  “Then you go inside this tube, where the spire is, and climb a single ladder.  It took Tom 20 minutes to climb that, which means it would have taken me 45 minutes.”


At the very top is a submarine-style hatch, to keep wind from entering the building.  Once at the top, Cruise was unable to resist, and asked Smrz to lower him down by a rope 15 feet over the edge – to autograph the building.  “The only person who will ever see that is the guy that paints the building years down the road,” Smrz says.

Filming by director of photography Robert Elswit takes your breath away during the stunts off tall buildings, underwater narrow escapes, shots inside a sandstorm, and fast moving cars to amazing vistas of Moscow, Prague, Dubai and Mumbai. Filmed with many different cameras including IMAX the movie comes across bigger and better than most that have been made for release in 2011.  Seeing it in the IMAX format is a special thrill and one I will not forget too soon.


Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence. 



FINAL ANALYSIS: In IMAX it’s the most explosive film of the year. (A)