Tom Cruise is a force of nature in the franchise’ fourth outing; older and looking older, and as nimble as ever, Ethan Hunt represents the kind of movie spy with mass commercial appeal as well as he ever did.
Cruise in fine form as of days of yore, framed by a nicely meaty story and his outrageous signature MI stunts.
Take for instance rappelling on the 130th floor of a Dubai Hotel – I’ve seen the sequence twice now it’s as thrilling, mesmerizing and brain challenging as any stunt Cruise has performed.
I’m told there were no body doubles used, that’s Cruise, and there’s no green screen. It looks horrifyingly authentic enough, except for the approaching CGI sandstorm. It defies belief but there you have it. Thrilling.
The film barrels along at a hell of a pace from one gob smacking stunt to another, from one exotic location to another, fists flying and gadgets humming. Check the world’s coolest parking garage.
We find Hunt in a Russian prison for allegedly murdering four Serbians. But he manages to smash his way out during a riot, staged for him, as a fellow agent Benji (Simon Pegg) newly assigned to the field, controls the prison computer system.
Pegg isn’t asked to do much more than comment sarcastically, work the computer (always a thankless cinematic role) and add some comic nerd relief. But he is charming against Cruise no nonsense attitude.
Hunt makes his escape, taking with him a valuable Russian “asset” who may be able to lead him to nuclear access codes via an international black market. Someone wants to start a nuclear war and the first attack is about to be launched. Hunt must get the bomb’s access code and stop it cold.
A new agent Jane (Paula Patton) who recently lost her lover murdered by an elusive baby faced assassin (Léa Seydoux) joins Hunt in his quest to find the codes. Patton brings an incredible physicality and authenticity as well as quick responses. And being strikingly gorgeous, Jane is also asked to seduce those ever elusive codes from besotted marks.
Hunt masquerades as a Russian officer to get past otherwise impenetrable Kremlin security to find the codes on his own. There’s an amazing gizmo – a high tech curtain he positions in front of a security desk officer to replicate his view at the end of the hall.
That way he and Benji can move up on him hidden behind this virtual view. The Kremlin explodes as they make their getaway, but they didn’t do it.
Hunt’s impossible mission takes him to and his team from Russia to Dubai, and then Mumbai, to railroad cars, glitterati events where he can look damn fine in a tux and run tin into the eye of the sandstorm.
The destinations are photographed beautifully which totally adds to the films eye appeal. The travelogue aspects of the MI outings are always welcome. The world of MI: 4 is seductive, brilliant and exotic.
The film is just a teeny bit longer than it should be but that’s small potatoes. The film is engaging, thrilling, fun and eye popping and Cruise is just fine, thank you.
It cost $140M to make and from this critic’s point of view, its money well spent just for the escapism it offers. It doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t and as mass appeal action adventure goes, its tops.
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35mm action adventure
Written by Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, based on Bruce Geller’s TV series
Directed by Brad Bird
Opens: Dec 16 IMAX, wide Dec 21
Runtime: 133 minutes
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence