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Tag Archives: Mission Impossible
With its trailer blaring Eminem and hyper-cutting explosions, falls, car crashes and punches, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol (hereafter M:I IV, because, come on) felt like an implicit promise to the viewer: Come out to the theater, we’ll spend a little time, have a few laughs. What’s interesting about Brad Bird’s live-action debut — coming as it does in the 4th installment of a 15-year-old franchise that’s cherry-picked great, or at the very least intriguing, directing talent from the past 5 decades — is the seeming modesty of it all. At no point do our heroes (Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner) wind up assaulting a hollowed-out volcano full of jumpsuit-clad minions; the final battle between Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and under-written bad guy Hendricks (Michael Nykvist) occurs not in a gleaming white room with shark tanks and lasers but instead a parking garage.
It’s hard to say what part of that is from the post-Bond spy action school of thought; historically, 9/11 is a real tragedy, but on a cultural level, it’s not untrue or unkind to suggest that Osama Bin Laden killed Blofeld more thoroughly than James Bond ever could. At the same time, so much of M:I IV is taken from that Bond-era playbook — like, for example, the “Let me provoke a war between the superpowers” plot, which creates an air of Cold War-era menace that has a bracing nip of nostalgic joy to it.
After a nigh-legendary career in Animation — and directing two instant classics in “The Iron Giant” and “The Incredibles” — director Brad Bird makes his live action debut with ‘Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol.” A huge star who’s also a producer, a globe-trotting fourth film in an action franchise, shooting 30 minutes in IMAX — what could possibly go wrong? Speaking via phone, Bird talked about putting his stamp on big-money moviemaking, what’s next for him and why you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for an “Incredibles” sequel.
I keep reading about the music in the first sequence, and how it was your pick of Dean Martin’s ‘Ain’t that a Kick in the Head’ as a prison-break music cue. I’m wondering about that as a metaphor for the whole process of making ‘Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol’ You’ve got this big franchise; you’ve got this big thrust of direction. Do you just put the weirdness in where you can, or did you get to shape the story a lot more than that?
Bird: No, I mean I think right fromthe outset, J.J. Abrams, who’s one of the producers with Tom Cruise and Bryan Burk and Jeffrey Chernov, and Tom wanted me to bring my own stuff to this, and have fun with it. They’re guys who both enjoy movies tremendously and can embrace a popcorn idea like this, so I was really encouraged to do whatever I could, and we had a blast. All bets were off, and we just wanted to enjoy the process of it, because we thought that would transfer to the screen.
That opening, with the Dean Martin, number was that a deliberate homage to ‘Hudson Hawk,’ or just accidental?
Bird: No, I first heard it was in ‘Hudson Hawk’ last week when someone else mentioned that. I saw ‘Hudson Hawk’ a million years ago, but I didn’t remember that was in the film — I just like Dean Martin.
I do want to talk about this film’s sense of humor, because that’s one of the best things in it. Not just big gags, but little things, and the idea that spy work is just another day at the office. Was that slightly weary tone important to you?
Shot in eye-widening IMAX, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (hereafter Mission: Impossible 4 for sanity’s sake) marks an impressive live-action debut for Brad Bird, who previously directed animated instant classics like The Iron Giant and The Incredibles. Tom Cruise stars as the head of a crew of off-the-map ultra-secret agents (newcomers Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner and a returning Simon Pegg) out to stop a nutbar with nukes and save the name of the Impossible Missions Force. Like a shark slipping by swift, sleek and silver-grey, Mission: Impossible 4 is so well-made and smooth you may need to see it more than once to truly appreciate its brains and nerves and blood. With Cruise’s star power—and a word-of-mouth “Wow!” factor that will make paying the IMAX premium less painful—Mission: Impossible 4 will earn more than enough rock-’em, sock-em let-me-entertain-you goodwill (and money, of course) to keep the fuse lit on this 15-year running franchise, now under the steady hand of producer J. J. Abrams.
If one thing elevates Mission: Impossible 4‘s script (written by TV veterans and Abrams-collaborators Josh Applebaum and André Nemec) it’s not the action or the set pieces—it’s the character moments and swift sense of humor. The Abrams-directed Mission: Impossible 3 was essentially and entertainingly a series of events that did not go as planned for Cruise’s super-spy Ethan Hunt. Mission: Impossible 4 continues that theme and tone—the Ian Fleming gadgets and John le Carre globe-trotting—and combines them with a weary, workplace sense of humor that wouldn’t be out of place on The Office. That is, if Michael Scott and his co-workers were a) good at their jobs and b) if their jobs involved shooting people.