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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Pulp Fiction (1994)


And You Will Know My Name is the Lord When I Lay My Vengeance Upon Thee.

I sometimes get worried when I start a review after watching a movie that caused me to take almost no notes whatsoever. This usually doesn’t happen when watching a crappy movie because I think of lots of jokes to take down during those; this mainly happens during good movies. What is there to say about a good movie? Well, let’s find out. This movie was suggested by my friend Chris, a young crippled boy who probably submitted his request through the Make A Wish Foundation. Or he posted it on my Facebook page. Either way, this movie is a classic movie, much beloved by many people I’ve spoken to about it. As with most movies with such a pedigree, it took me a while to see it for the first time, but once I had, I loved it and bought it on DVD. When it was requested, I busted out that bad boy and sat down to write what you are presently reading. This movie is Pulp Fiction, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, and starring John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Ving Rhames, Bruce Willis, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette, Maria de Medeiros, Harvey Keitel, Peter Greene, Duane Whitaker, Alexis Arquette, Steve Buscemi, Kathy Griffin, Phil LaMarr, and Christopher Walken.

This here is a difficult movie to summarize, and even more without spoilers. So there will be spoilers, but I’m going to try to do this chronologically. Two hit men, Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), go to an apartment to pick up a briefcase with mysterious, shiny contents. They kill the people in the apartment and leave with their informant, Marvin (Phil Lamarr). On the drive, Vincent accidentally shoots Marvin in the face. They go to Jules’ associate’s, Jimmy’s (Quentin Tarantino), house to clean up the situation, but his wife, Bonnie, is coming home and they need to get it done by the time she arrives. The Wolf, Winston Wolf (Harvey Keitel), is called in by their boss, Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). He takes care of the situation and Vincent and Jules go to breakfast. Here, they get involved in a hold-up at the restaurant by Ringo (Tim Roth) and Yolanda (Amanda Plummer). Because Jules is reluctant to give up Marsellus’ case, it devolves into a Mexican standoff between the four. Jules defuses the situation and Vincent and Jules take the case back to Marsellus. Here, they see Marsellus paying off boxer, Butch (Bruce Willis), to take a dive in his fight. After turning over the case, Marsellus asks Vincent to take his wife, Mia (Uma Thurman), out for dinner that night to occupy her. He does, they have a nice night of dinner and dancing, and he returns her home. While he’s in the bathroom, Mia finds a baggie of heroin in Vincent’s jacket and snorts it, mistaking it for cocaine. She immediately overdoses and Vincent must rush her over to the house of his drug dealer, Lance (Eric Stoltz), and his girl, Jody (Rosanna Arquette). They are able to revive her by administering an adrenaline shot directly into her heart. Later, Butch does not take the dive in his match. Instead, he kills his opponent in the ring. His intention is to take the money and his girlfriend, Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros), and run away. But Fabienne has forgotten his watch, given to him as a child – along with a disturbing story of a POW camp and anal storage of said watch – by Captain Koons (Christopher Walken), who was in the POW camp with Butch’s father. Butch returns to his apartment for the watch and kills Vincent, who was there looking for Butch. On the way back to Fabienne, Butch sees Marsellus in the street and hits him with his car. Marsellus chases Butch into a pawn shop owned by Maynard (Duane Whitaker), who stops Butch moments from killing Marsellus. Maynard knocks out Butch and Marsellus. They wake up to find themselves tied to chairs with ball gags in their mouth. Maynard called in his buddy, Zed (Peter Greene), and they decide to rape Marsellus. Butch escapes but decides to go back to save Marsellus with a katana. Marsellus tells Butch to never come back to LA, which he happily does with Fabienne.

That is basically the entire movie, condensed to a paragraph. You get a two and a half hour movie out of that by filling it with lots and lots of dialogue. Normally, this would make for an excruciating movie, but this is written by Quentin Tarantino. Much like the oft-mentioned Kevin Smith, Tarantino is an expert at taking scenes where nothing is happening beyond people talking, and that conversation has nothing to do with moving the story along, but make it super compelling so you don’t mind or get bored. The dialogue is definitely the most appealing part to this movie, but that is not to say that the story should not be lauded. Take out all the dialogue and you’d still have a good movie, but not a great one. It’s funny in a lot of parts, dark and violent all over the place, and always intriguing. Though it works in this movie, I’m generally not a fan of the movies being shown out of order. In this movie, it’s fine, but it also makes it a little hard to follow the order of things. But now I’ve written it down in chronological order, so all is well. As with most Tarantino movies, the music is fantastic as well. He loves to throw in those old songs, most of which probably wouldn’t be remembered now were it not for him. Take Miserlou, for example. I like the song, but there is no way I would know that song if it weren’t for this movie.

The acting is pretty much all the way perfect in this movie. John Travolta was a quiet badass who remained calm throughout the greater majority of the movie, even with Bruce Willis pointing a gun at him moments before his death. The only time he lost his shit was when Uma Thurman was dying in front of him, and that was more about getting killed by Marsellus than it was about her death. Samuel L. Jackson was really intimidating at most parts of this movie, more so when he was staring a gun down it’s barrel in the restaurant and when he was quoting the bible at people he was about to kill. “I’m sorry. Did I break your concentration?” Priceless. Uma Thurman was probably as hot as she’s ever been in this movie, and very real as well. I’m not usually one to dig on Uma for whatever reason, but something about that hair do worked for me. Ving Rhames was a great, powerful character in this movie that had that power taken away by a good ass-raping. And he reacts to that much as I assume I would: with a shotgun blast to the rapist’s penis and a threat against anyone who may mention it ever again. I could go through everyone in this movie, but I’ll have the same thing to say about every character from the biggest to the most minor: very real, very good. I think the person that impressed me the most was right in the opening scene of the movie: Amanda Plummer. She comes off first as a sweet lady out to eat with her boyfriend, talking innocently about robbery possibilities. When it’s time to bust out the guns and rob the joint, she is frightening as hell. And later, when Roth has a gun pointed at him, her tough persona cracks drastically as she is terrified she’s about to lose her man to this endeavor.

No surprises here, people. If you’re looking to be shocked by my reviews, keep walking. But I can’t hate on every movie, people. I like stuff too! WHY DON’T YOU GET OFF MY BACK!?! …Sorry. Anyways, great story, fantastic dialogue, and amazing performances land this movie firmly in position for you to own it. Everyone either does or should. So go get it or watch it. Pulp Fiction gets “I want that trophy, so dance good” out of “I don’t need you to tell me how fucking good my coffee is.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!