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Movie Review

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol also known as “Mission: Impossible 4,” “Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol: The IMAX Experience”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence.

Reviewed by: Scott Brennan

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Action Adventure Spy Thriller Sequel
2 hr. 12 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
December 16, 2011 (400 IMAX theaters, plus sneak previews in some conventional theaters)
December 21, 2011 (wide)
DVD: April 17, 2012
Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation
Relevant Issues
Featuring: Tom CruiseEthan Hunt
Jeremy RennerBrandt
Paula PattonJane Carter
Simon PeggBenji Dunn
Ving RhamesLuther Stickell
Tom Wilkinson
Josh HollowayTrevor Hanaway
Léa Seydoux
more »
Director: Brad Bird
Producer: Paramount Pictures
Skydance Productions
Bad Robot
more »
Distributor: Paramount Pictures Corporation

“No plan, No backup. No choice.”

There are only two words to describe Paramount’s 4th installment in this series, Mission: Accomplished. The success of the franchise was called into question after the lackluster box office results of Mission: Impossible 3, which had an even bigger budget than the current film—exceeding 150 million. But the convergence of several “firsts” may have something to do with what appears to be a smash hit for this 140 million dollar spy- thriller-extravaganza: 1) A first time directorial debut for a live-action film by Brad Bird, 2) first of the four films not produced by Paula Wagner (not a statement of inference, just an observation), and 3) the first time the series was filmed in IMAX (at least 30 full minutes of it)—to name just a few.

Brad’s Birds-Eye view (pun intended) for seeing this script from all new vistas is probably the greatest impetus for what will be declared the best in the Mission Impossible series so far. Hailed by some in Hollywood as the new Walt Disney, Brad, with only 4 or 5 major films under his belt (all animated films), has two of them ranked in the Top 100 Grossing Movies of all Time: The Incredibles (#40) and Ratatouille (#82) each earning well over 200 million dollars. With Ghost Protocol, he’s sure to get a third film on that list.

Three key players in telling a story on a big screen are 1) the script, 2) the cast, and 3) the director, with the latter often being the most important. Brad Bird was up to the task, and he delivered. This was Bourne Identity on steroids! Not since Taken with Liam Neeson, has this reviewer been so riveted to a screen. That may have had a lot to do with seeing it in IMAX, especially during the shots of the Burj Khahlifa in Dubai (the world’s tallest building as of December 16, 2011), where Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is seen scaling the half mile high edifice with only some trick gloves provided by the IMF (Impossible Missions Force). Which leads to a second point: definitely see this in IMAX if possible. It is well worth the $18 dollar ticket price. After seeing hundreds of films in my lifetime, and with CGI creating almost anything that the mind can imagine these days, I really didn’t expect to see something that would be a “first” again in terms of images, until MI 4’s U. S. Opening on Friday. Warning: if you are afraid of heights or get vertigo easily, you may want to keep your eyes closed during a chunk of this movie. On a serious note, Brad’s keen eye and direction during these scenes and others throughout the film created shots that even Alfred Hitchcock could give a nod of approval for—if he were alive today—in terms of maximizing suspense.

Don’t even think about leaving the theater once the first frame begins. There are not enough superlatives to emphasize how entertaining this film is. This is nail-biting, popcorn chewing, hold-on-to-your-seat-espionage-spy-thriller-entertainment at full intensity, but without the baggage of overcomplicated plots, bad editing or photography, or excess for its own sake. It’s why people go to the movies, and it’s why people like me, who aren’t necessarily fans of action movies, will see this one more than once. If you want an escape, and are willing to suspend disbelief at extreme lengths for scenes that you know are impossible, and aren’t bothered by a fair amount of violent action, then this is your film. If you’re looking for “The Remains of the Day,” or “Pride and Prejudice,” then this film will not fit the bill.

Deliciously, the film takes place across several continents in major cities including—Dubai, Prague, Moscow, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Vancouver—which adds so much color and texture to the spy thriller which, otherwise, might be plagued with excessive action and without an interesting backdrop. This probably isn’t surprising since the writers of Ghost Protocol (Andre Nemec and Josh Appelbaum) are from J. J. Abrams’ (producer of MI 4, Director of MI3) team at Bad Robot, who used to write for television’s hit program “Alias.” Each week they would have Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) appear in disguises at some exotic location around the world, taking down the bad guys with kicks, punches and ferocity. In this film, Jane Carter (Paula Patton, from Déjà Vu with Denzel Washington) plays the look-a-like role of Sydney Bristow—only she’s an IMF agent working on Hunt’s team instead and far more deadly with her takedowns. There is a scene in the film where Patton actually (just briefly) looks like Garner when she is on assignment to seduce a rich Indian entrepreneur in Mumbai, Brij Nath (Anil Kapoor from “Slumdog Millionaire”) and has to move quickly to extract her information from him.

Without going into too much detail and trying to remain clear of becoming a “spoiler” let me summarize. The story begins with an attempted courier intercept in Budapest by the IMF team of Jane Carter, Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg, from MI3) and Trevor Hanaway (Josh Holloway from “Lost”). Something goes wrong and next the team is extracting Ethan Hunt (Cruise) from a Moscow prison. All of that happens before and during the opening credits. The plot thickens with a relationship between the failed courier intercept, the Kremlin blowing up, and a Swedish-born Russian Nuclear strategist who wants to start a nuclear war to initiate the next stage of human evolution—believing that the weak must die in order for the strong to survive. The IMF’s chief analyst, William Brandt (Jeremy Renner, Hurt Locker) becomes part of the team unpredictably, forcing the team to black ops, or ghost protocol, meaning “off the grid.” Add to the mix a Russian agent who mistakenly thinks Hunt is behind the Kremlin bombing and a cleverly “hatched” plan to trick all parties into an exchange of diamonds for nuclear launch codes on the 118th floor of the world’s tallest building, and there you have it, an impossible mission. There’s a lot going on but it’s not so convoluted that it can’t be followed.

Brad Bird brings a very James Bond like quality to the film, but leaves out the compulsory Bond sex scenes which were also a pleasant and unexpected departure for this genre. There were two on screen kisses which were part of the undercover work, one of which occurred when Patton was trying to seduce the Indian businessman for information, as I mentioned earlier. There was some drinking but no drunkenness. The drawback, of course, is the extreme violence with plenty of shooting, car crashes, and fighting, way too intense for small children. Finally, there is the lying, killing and deceiving on the part of undercover operators. Even though this is a fantasy spy thriller in the realm of the impossible, I can’t help thinking about the scripture’s relevance in Romans 12:19—Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,'* says the Lord. In an age of terrorist plots, just how far should governments go over the line to protect the innocent? It does bring those questions to surface.

Overall, the film played well, with a simplistic, but well-intentioned good vs. Evil underpinning. Teamwork and personal sacrifice for the good of humanity are obvious themes, along with perseverance and dedication to both team and personal objectives. Personal integrity is well-demonstrated during the dénouement, when a major character confesses something to Ethan. Continuity is also provided between M:I-3 and M:I-GP, showing Ethan’s devotion to his wife.

Lastly, I will end with a quote from the director, Brad Bird who once said:

“I think all movies are an illusion, whether they are live action or animation. And I think the best special effect that people don’t pay enough attention to is caring about the characters who are going through the set pieces. If you can be invested in the characters that you are putting in danger, then you can amp up the pressure, and it really means something because people are rooting for them to survive. Characters are the special effect.”

Somehow Brad was able to get the audience to root for these characters, even amidst all the special effects that wrapped around them. That speaks to the other two key ingredients I mentioned in paragraph three: great acting and a succinct script that the actors could work with. This film had everything needed to provide top quality entertainment, and it does. Unfortunately it’s entertainment that leaves even the idea of God completely out of the picture. I hate when that happens.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Mild to Moderate [“Oh G_d” (6), “My G_d,” “For the love of G_d,” “sh_t,” “hell” (several), “d_mn” (4)] / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I think MI:GP was pretty good from a filmmaking aspect, given its genre. It has the wall-to-wall action, gun fight and explosions. There’s nothing new here, as far as your average PG-13 movie is concerned. As far as moral content is concerned, there are no f-words, Paula Patton’s character wears a cleavage-baring dress, and there are fist fights, gun fights and the explosion of the Kremlin. Overall, pretty good movie. It’s OK for high schoolers and above. For middle schoolers and below, parents have to make that decision.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Kate, age 21 (USA)
Positive—…Ghost Protocal was a great film, and the action was intense, but well done. I loved this film…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Martin, age 38 (USA)
Positive—Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to go see and enjoy M:I 3, like I did. I enjoyed the action packed fun story. Of course, I did see some moral flaws, but as a movie that was thrill seeking all the way. I do recommend for older teens and up. Tom cruise could be the next 007, if you asked me. AND I want some of those gadgets. This review will self destruct in…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Rockin Ron, age 48 (USA)
Positive—It’s the most wonderful time of the year and with almost everyone’s so busy,I was convincing my 15 year old daughter to bond and to watch MI4 with me at the mall,and she having to bear with 3 brothers as her perpetual friends and foes rolled in one, was so not into it. She'd rather watch music vids or do Tumbler and FB. So a good or smart mom that I was I tried tricking her to buy her a good black shirt which she loves and which my wallet was whispering ok ok you can do this. So I won, talking about motivation and trickery. Forgive me. We do it not so often though. Done with that!

I have to complete all these MI movies. That’s my mission! When the first frame shows up, we were so glued to our seats, all the actions, brief dialog and the funny punch lines too which I love so much, were never boring. I guess that’s the right combo for a hard sci-fi-thrill action movie, never ever leave the audience bored or wondering where the hell the story is leading to? Each characters of the movie stood out and has delivered well. No small or big roles, everyone did a good job,the artists,director,producers, the production staff,stunts(in Budapest, in prison,Kremlin bombings, funny Russian agent chasing Ethan, awesome sand storm car chase with high tech gadgets using smart phone or whatever you call that locator gadget), and seeing and being in the exotic and best locations,and not to forget that breath-taking scene on the tallest building on Earth, having two people worked and sweat out a well-written story line (the drama and actions that go with preventing that nuclear weapon to explode),etc. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Ana, age 43 (Philippines)
Positive—Way to go, Brad Bird! This is probably the only franchise where the fourth installment is the best (though the third was great, too). Awesome action sequences never stopped coming, it made me laugh several times… the team members were all likeable and easy to root for. This is a great fun movie for the holidays! Of course there’s plenty of violence and blood and wince-inducing injuries, but what do you expect? I only noticed profanity once (an s-word), and there was no sexual content apart from one gross playboy that they needed information from. This director has certainly proved his worth in live action as well as animation!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Kadie Jo, age 19 (USA)
Positive—I was amazed. Spy movies have women with easy virtue. It is the nature of the genre—Mata Hari and her imitators. This was a remarkably clean film. It is remarkably executed. This is not “Pollyanna,” but for what it is, it is amazing. I was expecting something like the “Hangover II” meets “Mission Impossible 3,” because that is the way sequels enter a death spiral of base desire and corrupt values. Nothing of the sort—excellent film—but I do think that there are a few cuss words. This is a thoroughly secular film with no Christian aspect shown in the film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—BP, age 53 (Australia)
Positive—In a series wherein the first installment was confusing, the second one absolutely superb and the third film a real disappointment, I didn’t have high hopes for the fourth one until I saw the trailer. The storyline is excellent and well-written, with twists that will keep you guessing until the very end, and-dare I say it?-this entry is even better than the second one (previously, my personal favorite of the four, and now my second personal favorite with this one being number one), which is high-octane action all the way.

Director Brad Bird (“The Incredibles”) does a terrific job with his first live-action movie. Action, comedy, drama and suspense are blended into one here, and it’s a fine cocktail of a movie. Biblically speaking, there isn’t anything offensive apart from the usual (and mostly bloodless) violence. There is one curse word in the film, but it’s used in a humorous context rather than for shock value.

I highly recommend seeing this movie in IMAX, so you can get the full effect of the action sequences, especially one where Ethan Hunt is hanging off the tallest building in the world. The producers originally planned to build a replica of the building on a soundstage and have Tom Cruise do it there, but he insisted on filming the stunt at the actual location with no stunt doubles or safety wires. From the action-packed opening sequence until the final frame fades out, your mission, should you choose to accept it…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—D, age 25 (USA)
Positive—My father and I went to see “Mission: Impossible 4.” We really seemed to enjoy this movie. I personally had never seen the first three films, so I was wondering the whole time as to whether or not I was going to understand the fourth film. I was pleasantly surprised. There were areas of confusion, but they soon cleared up, so the plot was good. The special effects? Phenomenal. The acting? Top notch. This had all the signs of a good film. The plot, like I said, was a little heavy in some areas, but, overall, understandable.

Will I see the next Mission: Impossible film? Hard to say. However, if you’re looking for a good action flick, then this is your type of movie. Good job, Hollywood!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Alexander Malsan, age 21 (USA)
Positive—I was torn on the movie, because it was a great action-adventure movie with 2 minor curse words (that I caught), but totally without Christ. There was a great plot, great action sequences (although with more gore than I’d prefer), little sexuality, and a good flow and pace to the movie. However, the lack of Christ makes me stop and think about whether I put my time to good stewardship.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Casey, age 45 (USA)
Positive—This movie was awesome! Wow, so much better then I thought it might have been. The action is thrilling, and, as long as you can overlook the fact that most of the things they do are completely unrealistic, it’s a great film. Keeps you on the edge of your seat. I think it is their best one yet. Yes, there is a female agent that is seductive, but she is only that way “undercover” to get someone to give her answers to save the world from blowing up! And nothing happens sexually. It’s a great film and mostly clean, with hardly any cursing.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—S Taylor, age 37 (USA)
Positive—Best M:I yet! Loads of action, very few inappropriate scenes and extremely entertaining. You don’t have to like Tom Cruise to like this movie. Saw it with our family and another with a 13 year old, and she loved it. If you have never seen a M:I movie, before then a negative comment might be tolerated, but if you have, then you know what you are going to get, going in, and this one delivers.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Mark, age 49 (Canada)
Neutral—We went to go see this movie as a family for my father’s birthday. I usually go more for intelligent mysteries or Oscar® nominees when going to the movies (although most nights I’m better off staying in and renting a classic). I get that this is just meant to be a fun, mindless action flick, but I just don’t go for this type of movie, if I’m going to the theater to pay money for it. The special effects were pretty good, but they alone couldn’t save the movie for me. I didn’t find anything particularly offensive in the movie, although the violence was a little bloodier than most PG-13 movies I’ve seen, but it wasn’t graphic or anything. The profanity was almost unnoticeable.

Bottom line is: If you like “fun,” unrealistic cheese-ball action, then this movie’s for you. If you care more about an intriguing plot and complex characters than CGI explosions and action sequences, then look elsewhere.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Tyler, age 19 (USA)
Negative—This movie has more cuss words than documented by this critic. It has two “s” words, one use of the name of Jesus to express surprise (which is blasphemy), and one middle finger in the end of the movie. As far as nudity is concerned, there isn’t any, however there is more cleavage and seductive role play than is needed for a man who struggles with adultery of the heart. For the most part, they are not stripping naked (thank the LORD), but the lust of the eyes play a part by the way Hollywood presents this one particular female.

The action was indeed intense, and should you go to see this movie, be warned that they don’t pull many punches on action violence. It isn’t gory, but very vivid. I wasn’t extremely offended watching this movie, however I was disappointed at the review which caused me to go see a movie I felt should have been critiqued with more holy criticism.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—George Alvarado, age 29 (USA)
Negative—The movie was not as good as the last M:I. However, when they took The Lord’s Name in vain, that was the end of the movie for me. I would not have gone to the cinema had I known. … With blasphemy of any kind I cannot suggest any one should view the film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—William, age 59 (United Kingdom)
Negative—…it was offensive when the main female character was seductive, provocative, and even changed clothes on screen. As a couple we are attempting to remain pure to each other by guarding our eyes. …Other than that the movie was good. There was plenty of action and a few comedic scenes.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—West, age 37 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—I just saw this movie today with my dad, and I was super impressed! I check this Web site all the time so that I know which movies to see and which to stay away from. So, since this reviewer gave “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” such a high rating, I decided I would go for it. And I must say, what a spectacular movie! It was unlike any of the previous “Mission Impossible” movies… especially different from the last one—“Mission Impossible III”. The last movie was filled with cold-blooded murder and torture that made me fearful to see the next movie. To my great pleasure, Ghost Protocol was nothing like the previous. Instead, it had exciting action scenes, minimal sexual content (only once a girl is partially shown in her bra), zero torture, little cursing, and yes, there were deaths, but no gore. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to enjoy this Christmas season with an entertaining, exciting, thrilling flick!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Corrin, age 16 (USA)
Positive—I really enjoyed this movie, having not seen the other three, I can’t compare them, but I have seen the original TV series from the 60s and 70s, and it was fun to see all the similarities between them, like the masks and the title scenes. There were a few Objectionable things, and the leading lady was not very modest, but, overall, it was a great movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Bethany, age 17 (USA)
Positive—I thought this movie was great. I enjoyed it very much. Besides the cuss words and taking the Lord’s name in vain, it was a very good movie. Plus, I believe that they didn’t take the Lord’s name in vain in the worst way. I believe the worst way is to say you are a Christian, then lead a different life. So yeh.

The filmmaking quality was awesome, and the acting was phenomenal. Overall, it was a great movie that I recommend.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Miranda, age 14 (USA)
Positive—Nothing offensive in this movie. No nudity or sexual content. Very little language, and some moderate violence. This movie is not offensive, at all. It has a good story. …This movie is probably three out of four stars. It wasn’t as good as the third movie, but it was better than the first one. If you want to see a clean action thriller, go see this movie. You will be glad you did.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Tyler, age 13 (USA)
Positive—I’m 14 years old right now, but I saw it before my birthday when I was 13 with two of my friends. One 14 and one 13. This movie was, overall, good and better than I expected. The violence, however, was a backdrop, but there were only 3 or 4 intense shooting scenes. Also, there was a bit of misuse of language. One example was when Ethan was on the building and yelled no sh*t when Brandt told him his line was too short. Also, Brandt said “Oh sh*t” when they almost missed their train. Also, there were a few OMG and one in the love of G*d. Overall, though it showed how good prevailed over evil, and after that was basically clean.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Luke, age 14 (USA)

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