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Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)

Paramount Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 4/17/2012

All Ratings out of





Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/9/2012; Updated 6/7/2018

It's been well over a year since I've reviewed a new Tom Cruise movie (nearly 18 months), with Knight and Day being that last movie, so it's been far too long since I've had a chance to write about how I don't care for the man. (Technically, I did review The Firm last year, but note that I said "new" movie.) However, looking at his filmography, I'm somewhat surprised to see that I've seen a vast majority of his movies (with Top Gun being an exception I hope to never remedy). And while I must admit that there are some decent movies in the bunch, there aren't many which really blew me away. That all changed with Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol takes place after the events of Mission: Impossible III. IMF super spy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is being held in a Russian prison. Field agents Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) stage a daring rescue to spring him from jail. Following this, Ethan is told about Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), a college professor who believes that the only way to achieve peace is through destroying most of mankind. Hendricks is already on the trail of stolen launch codes for Soviet nuclear missiles (which lead to the death of an IMF agent) and he is now after information on hijacking satellites for his purpose. Ethan and his team are to intercept Hendricks at The Kremlin in Moscow. When this doesn't go as planned, Ethan finds himself disavowed and is suddenly on his own, with no backing from the government. With new team member William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) in tow, Ethan devises a plan to travel the globe in order to stop Hendricks.

It's been reported that following the success of 1996's Mission: Impossible, Tom Cruise wanted to create a franchise which had a different director for every entry. This seemed like a good idea, even given that Brian De Palma had done a fine job with the first film (despite the fact that he seemed a little out of his element with the big action scenes). Mission: Impossible II brought in John Woo who delivered nice, slow-motion action scenes, but a story which was all over the place. TV vet J.J. Abrams directed Mission: Impossible III, which brought the series back into focus, but was still somewhat lackluster. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Cruise and his team have enlisted two-time Academy Award winner Brad Bird to direct. Hey, two Oscars? That sounds pretty good, right? Well, the awards were for The Incredibles and Ratatouille. (He also directed The Iron Giant.) Can a director making his live-action debut compete with the other heavy-hitters in this series?

Not only does Bird compete, he surpasses them, delivering the best entry in the series since the original. With The Incredibles and The Iron Giant, Bird has clearly created large, bombastic action scenes before, but never in live action. That experience appears to have paid-off well here, as the action set-pieces, most notably The Kremlin incident and the Dubai car chase, work very well. Bird is clearly use to working in an environment where anything is possible and he keeps the camera moving, creating interesting angles. Just look at the scene in which Ethan is climbing the building and note how Bird know when to keep the camera steady to create tension and when to move it to communicate action. Despite the two-hours-plus running time, the pacing feels dead-on and the movie never slows down for two long.

And while Bird's visual sense certainly brings a lot to the movie, it's the script which helps Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol to exceed. To say that the previous films have been complicated would be a wild understatement, so it's nice to see that the fourth installment tries to keep things relatively simple. Writers Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec have taken a very Cold War idea and simply updated it. Hendricks wants to use nuclear missiles to create war and the IMF team must stop him -- it's as simple as that. This idea is fleshed out with scenes of arms deals and double-crosses. The whole thing harkens back to the classic James Bond films, as the team must cross the globe chasing Hendricks, often visiting lavish locations which require evening-wear. The benefit of the story being more coherent, and thus, more involving, is that the audience doesn't feel that they are simply waiting for the next action scene. The script also does a great job of tying up some loose ends from the previous entry, making this feel more like a true series, as opposed to a group of individual movies.

I'm still no fan of Tom Cruise, but Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is his best movie in a decade. The action scenes are stupendous and the cast is very good. Simon Pegg brings some much needed levity to the movie. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series star Michael Nyqvist brings both presence and menace to the role of Hendricks. The addition of Jeremy Renner may seem like stunt-casting, as he's popular right now, but his character brings a new perspective to the team. Another Mission: Impossible movie may have sounded like overkill, but this is a solid action film which should leave fans salivating over the next entry.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol made me wonder about the toughness of Ethan's legs on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 31 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look great and the image is never overly dark or bright. We would expect nothing less from a big-budget epic like this and the transfer delivers a very crisp picture which has an impressive amount of depth and detail, making us feel that we could simply step into some of the shots. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.5 Mbps. The track delivers clear dialogue and sound effects. Simply go to The Kremlin scene to get an idea of how powerful and detailed this track is. The stereo and surround effects work great during the action scenes, truly immersing us into the action. The speaker separation works well and we can easily pick out individual sounds. The subwoofer effects are steady and powerful, but never obnoxious.

All of the extras on the Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Blu-ray Disc are found on Disc 2. "Mission Accepted" (48 minutes) is a three-part featurette which explores the international aspects of the film. Taking us on-set in Prague, Dubai, and Vancouver, we see how the movie went around the world to create the action. These segments are filled wall-to-wall with behind-the-scenes footage, highlighting some key scenes. When possible, we see how landmarks were used. We get comments from Cruise, Bird, and J.J. Abrams, who was actually in the U.S. shooting Super 8. "Impossible Missions" (51 minutes) is split into 11 chapters which focus on either specific scenes and specific elements of the film. Chock full of on-set footage and comments from Bird and others, we get a detailed look at four specific scenes from the movie. There are also examinations of the music, the IMAX process, the sets and props, and the special effects makeup. The Disc contains eight DELETED SCENES which run about 15 minutes and can be viewed with commentary from Bird. Most of these are simply deleted moments from existing scenes. The only truly interesting thing is a dialogue scene between Ethan and Jane discussing the importance of the mission. The extras are rounded out by two THEATRICAL TRAILERS.


On June 26, 2018, Paramount Home Entertainment brought Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol to 4K UHD.  The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an HEVC 2160p transfer which runs at an average of 50 Mbps.  The image is extremely sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials.  The daytime scenes look impeccable, as they deliver a well-balanced picture which displays a nice amount of crispness.  The colors look very good, and the image is never overly dark or bright.  The depth is especially noticeable here, as the actors are clearly separate from the backgrounds, delivering a quasi-3D effect.  The level of detail is also good, as we can easily make out the textures on objects.  The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.5 Mbps.  The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects.  This may well be the same track as the one found on the Blu-ray Disc, as they are quite similar.  The track really shines during the action sequences, as we get strong subwoofer and detailed surround sound effects.  The surround effects are nicely detailed, and we are treated to distinct, individual sounds at times.  Likewise, the stereo effects move from side-to-side in a natural way and highlight sounds coming from off-screen.

The extra features found on this 4K UHD release mirror those offered on the Blu-ray Disc, save for the trailers.

Review Copyright 2012/2018 by Mike Long