Having found his know-it-all behaviour obnoxious in Jack Reacher, I was irritated by the opening of Ghost Protocol, in which he tries to call the shots while being rescued. It turns out that I misjudged the tone of the movie – it’s light-hearted and frequently comic (Simon Pegg helps out here), and the team get themselves into a lot of scrapes.
The intro sequence showcased characters and locations in the rest of the movie – I enjoyed the light, pulpy/matinee feel that created, but it’s really unusual to deliberately spoil story elements like that. This distinct directorial touch surfaces again in a scene with an argument between main characters in the background, which you can choose to listen in on; there’s also a strange setting for the final confrontation, and a low key denouement.
There’s plenty of flashbacks and intrigue, and even a couple of personal issues for the invincible Tom Cruise. The storyline is pretty silly (the villain just wants to detonate a nuclear weapon for the hell of it) and there are several plot conveniences (Cruise is put in charge of the mission right after being rescued, when you’d think that it was Paula Patton’s op), but it’s a really good-natured movie with callouts to prior elements in the series (Pegg complains about wanting to use the series’s infamously overused masks), where the objective is something other than killing everyone. I loved the elaborate gadgets that broke down at critical moments and the crazy plans (eg the fantastic double-meeting) that ran into complications – this fallibility and improvisation made it a much more interesting movie (Cruise even gets beaten up by a an old guy) than many of its ilk.
The “Ghost Protocol” itself is an overblown designation, but it puts a limit on the fancy widgets available (which is good, see Die Another Day). I liked how they brought Jeremy Renner in as an analyst to identify people and help figure out what’s going on. Characters call out unbelievable stunts (Renner questions Cruise after an unlikely escape), and you get a stronger sense of plausibility (and therefore tension) than is typical in such films. The scene where Cruise scales the outside of a building with faulty hardware is a nail-biter.
Anil Kapoor is fantastic as a sleazy, boasting, deluded playboy, and Lea Seydoux is great as an ice-cold, ridiculously pretty assassin. Pegg has some hilarious lines – referring to his mission designation: “Why am I Pluto? It’s not even a planet anymore.” And in the end, I didn’t mind Tom Cruise.