Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol (2011)

Next Time, I Get to Seduce the Rich Guy

Got back into the theaters today for another big movie I’ve been looking to see. It probably spoils it a bit early, but this is the 4th part in a series that I’ve liked all the way through. Most people hated on the third one, but I still found it enjoyable. These movies are typically a step above a big, dumb action movie. They’ve got the big and the action, but they’re usually a little bit smarter than your typical dumb action movie. But, as is the case with most sequels, I tend to go into them with a great deal of trepidation. Sequels always have the danger of being too much of the same thing. Is this one? Let’s find out in my review of Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, written by Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec, directed by Brad Bird, and starring Tom Cruise, Michael Nyqvist, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Vladimir Mashkov, Lea Seydoux, Josh Holloway, Tom Wilkinson, Anil Kapoor, and Ving Rhames.

During a pick up in Budapest, IMF agent Trevor Hanaway (Josh Holloway) is killed in action by assassin Sabine Moreau (Lea Seydoux). In reaction, Hanaway’s team of Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) bust IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) out of a Moscow prison. Soon after, they find out that their mission – if they choose to accept it – is to break into the Kremlin to get information on someone with the codename “Cobalt”. Cobalt (Michael Nyqvist) beats them to the punch, stealing nuclear launch codes and blowing up the Kremlin, getting it blamed on Ethan Hunt and IMF. Ethan gets picked up by the IMF Secretary (Tom Wilkinson), who informs Ethan that the President has enacted “Ghost Protocol”, disavowing the entire IMF. Hunt and his team are going to take credit for it unless they get out there and fix this before they get captured. Russian security forces attack their car and kill the secretary, but Ethan escapes with the secretary’s chief analyst, William Brandt (Jeremy Renner). With Brandt on their team, Ethan, Benji, and Jane go to stop Cobalt from starting a nuclear war.

YAY! Mission: Impossible didn’t let me down! It’s every bit the big, action movie of moderate intelligence that the previous films were, but that’s okay. It’s what I expected, what I wanted, and what I got. The story is solid, the action is pretty spectacular, and it was great fun. It’s worth mentioning that it’s the same basic principle that the other movies use. Something happens and Ethan Hunt must break with protocol to fix it. He does, and then he’s back with the IMF at the end. Same principle, but it’s different enough that it hasn’t gotten stale yet. The way it started was a little confusing to me. Now, I know the typical MI opening credit sequence is the lighting of a fuse that then travels along through the credits until it explodes to end them. There were two things that bothered me about these though. The first was that it seemed to show the whole movie in the background as the fuse traveled through the biggest scenes. I just thought it was odd and vaguely spoiler-y, but by the end I didn’t really think so because a brief shot from a huge action scene doesn’t really spoil it. The other thing that bothered me about it was that these people had super advanced equipment like a blue light that would cut a hole through 5-foot thick concrete, but they were still using explosives with a fuze you had to light with a match? Speaking of the technology: I know that Brad Bird came from Pixar, who is owned by Apple, but does that mean that 50% of the technology they use in the movie needs to be Apple products? Almost everyone in the movie used an iPhone, and they also used an iPad to peak around corners and to operate a machine that projected the image of the wall behind a giant screen so they could push the screen down a hall without knowing. Next time I talk to someone about the iPad, I’ll need to remember to tell them that it’s not just for media viewing, it’s also great for espionage! I just got really sick of seeing all the product placement in the movie and it bummed me out a little. And they missed the opportunity for a great joke at the end! When Ethan puts three iPhones on a table to give Pegg, Patton, and Renner their missions, Renner doesn’t take his. He says “I’m not going to take that phone …” and goes on to say something vaguely emotional. I was praying for it, but it didn’t happen. I desperately wanted him to say “I’m not going to take that phone … because I’m an Android man.” The action is over the top spectacular in this movie. I really don’t know how they’ll top it for the next movie. One such action scene is from the trailers and involves Hunt climbing the world’s tallest building in Dubai. There’s also infiltrations with cool technology, chases – both in cars and on foot (because Tom Cruise loves to run in movies), and big time shootouts and fist fights. One of the chases happens in a sandstorm that is so intelligent that it knows to arrive when it’s needed to amp up the action, but leaves right when the movie was finished with it. Very polite. If I was going to point out a negative side of the movie, it was definitely the ending. The movie is interesting and fun all the way through, but the ending seemed tacked on and out of place, as if they realized there was one more plot point to tie up (and a couple more cameos to throw in) and decided to throw it in so people wouldn’t complain. But I’m doing it anyway. It just seemed to stop the movie too abruptly and it could’ve been so much better.

The performances in this movie are much better than a movie of this type requires. They’re not super fantastic, impressive, or range-y performances, but they’re better than most of the performances that you would typically see in an action movie. Tom Cruise is as good as he was in all the other MI movies. He’s very serious and is running 90% of the time, but also stretches out his acting chops a couple of times. Simon Pegg is awesome. He’s back in this movie as the comic relief computer guy (as he well should be, being so nerdy and hilarious), but he also gets to play the badass a few times in this movie. He’s awesome in everything. Jeremy Renner is also very awesome. He didn’t have quite the emotional range to this character as he showed in Hurt Locker, but that’s not what the role called for. He kicked some ass, dropped some great lines, and just did one or two emotional parts. Paula Patton was very hot. She was also very good, but her hotness overrides her performances. WITH HOTNESS! Michael Nyqvist was pretty creepy as the bad guy, but I never really felt like his motivation was clear. I still have little to no idea why he wanted a nuclear war. But I think he was supposed to be pretty crazy, so he may not have had more reason than that.

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol keeps a great series moving forward with it’s solid story, fantastic action, and appropriately great performances. It doesn’t break any molds for story, but the action is amped up so high that I’m not sure how they’ll top it for another sequel, which I feel pretty confident will come eventually. I’m still on board to check it out. Shitty ending, be damned! I paid to see this in theaters, and I can’t see most of you being disappointed in this movie, especially if you walk out before the ending. I give Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol “Mission: Accomplished” out of “Ha, it’s funny ‘cuz you said anus.” This review was sponsored by Apple.

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Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2008)

I Wish I Had a Light-Skinned Boyfriend With Real Nice Hair

I don’t understand why some people go into a movie saying “Depress the shit out of me, movie”, but they do. I generally avoid dramas because I prefer to go into a movie and either feel uplifted by a nice story or entertained by cool action. I have liked a couple of dramas in the past, but mostly they just depress me. Today’s movie doesn’t only depress me, it beats me over the head with sadness. And I pretty much knew this would happen, so I did all I could to avoid it. When I mistakenly walked into a conversation between my friend Fabian and someone else and heard it was about this movie, I knew what was coming: review request. And then I was trapped. Trapped by nothing but my stubbornness and desire to write reviews at the request of people who may or may not read them. This movie was Precious, which is apparently based on a novel named Push by someone named Sapphire, written by Damien Paul, directed by Lee Daniels, and starring Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Paula Patton, Stephanie Andujar, Chyna Layne, Amina Robinson, Xosha Roquemore, Sherri Shepherd, Mariah Carey, and Lenny Kravitz.

We follow the life of Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe), who has a bad life that gets worse and worse. Check this out. She’s obese and illiterate. She lives at home with her mom, Mary Lee Johnston (Mo’Nique), who is abusive, both mentally and physically. She’s pregnant with her second kid, fathered by her father. The first child has Down syndrome and lives with her grandmother and comes to visit only when they need to play up the good family thing for more money from the government. This is the bad life part we start at. Let’s get worse. She gets kicked out of school and starts attending an alternative school, taught by Ms. Blu Rain (Paula Patton). Her mom also makes her go to Miss Weiss (Mariah Carey) to try to get welfare instead of wasting her time with school. Precious begins to learn how to read, and then pops out the kid. Mom doesn’t take kindly to the child, and throws it onto the couch, then the battle of the Goliaths begins, ending with Precious running off with her baby, falling down the stairs, and narrowly avoiding a TV dropped by her mom. Add in some AIDS and you got yourself Precious.

I wouldn’t say this movie is a bad movie, but it’s a movie I’ll do well to never have to watch again. The story of this movie beats the shit out of you with horrible situations to the point where I numerous times thought to myself, “Christ, I get it! Her life sucks! Got it!!” It’s a fine enough flick with a nice message of overcoming adversity at the end, but that little bit of Precious deciding to go off on her own with her kids and probably continue school did not counteract the fact that her father raped those two kids into her. I know the movie was supposed to be a drama, but it seemed to push it further than that and go more into the over the top melodrama. I’m sure horrible people like the ones in this movie exist, but I don’t want to watch a movie about them. And besides just having a story I didn’t want to see, it was all filmed in a way I didn’t want to see either. The cast of the movie was not an attractive bunch, and even the attractive people in the movie such as Mariah Carey weren’t allowed any make up. Mariah Carey and Paula Patton still looked good, but they weren’t in it that much. Instead you had Mo’Nique in a skin-tight leotard dancing with her unshaven pits front and center. I understand this was done for added realism, but it just didn’t make me want to look at it at all.

The performances were pretty good, and probably the only reason this movie should be paid any attention. Gabourey Sidibe was pretty shut off from the real world for the majority of the movie and only showed any kind of emotion in escapism dream sequences. In actual reality, she didn’t show emotion until the time her second child was born, about an hour into the movie. She remained pretty distant still, but had a few moments when she opened up and showed why she got the attention she did for this movie. Mo’Nique also got a good deal of attention for this movie for making one of the most despicable characters on film. She performed the character very well, but you hate the character so much. You kind of feel for her at the end when you find that she treated Precious so badly out of jealousy, because her husband wanted Precious and not her. Deeply flawed logic to explain inexcusable acts, but she wasn’t a bright character so you still kind of feel for her a bit at the end. The character was so dumb that she was totally sure she didn’t get AIDS from her husband (who gave AIDS to Precious) because they never did anal. Paula Patton had some good performance moments as well. It was Brave-ish for Mariah Carey to go into this movie without make-up, but I actually found her attractive for the first time without all the fake glamor of her musical persona. She didn’t do a whole lot to impress me in her performance though. She didn’t bring the movie down or anything, she just didn’t do very much.

Before you get the wrong impression of my feelings about the movie, I do think this was a pretty good movie. The story went way overboard with the melodrama, but it had a good meaning to it, and the performances really made the movie. Can I say I think you should watch it? No, not really. It’s a kind of miserable road to travel just to get the meaning and to see the performances. Plus, I already told you the meaning. If you think your life is bad and you’ll never be able to come out on top of it, well this chick did it and hers is worse. I don’t know who’s reading this or what they’re going through, but Precious went through worse, so stop complaining and overcome that shit, or find yourself hijacking a bucket of chicken. Precious gets “Who else was going to make me feel good about myself?” out of “My favorite color is fluorescent beige”.

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