Movie Review: Ghost Protocol

Movie Review: Ghost Protocol

Mission Impossible 4: Ghost ProtocolRating:  M Distributor: Paramount Release Date: December 15Yes, I’m afraid it’s true. As unbelievable as it sounds that this could happen again, a madman has gained the launch keys to a former Soviet nuclear device and decided that the best thing to do is to destroy the world! (Frankly, I’m always a little curious […]

By Mark HadleyTuesday 13 Dec 2011MoviesReading Time: 4 minutes

Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol

Rating:  M
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: December 15

Yes, I’m afraid it’s true. As unbelievable as it sounds that this could happen again, a madman has gained the launch keys to a former Soviet nuclear device and decided that the best thing to do is to destroy the world! (Frankly, I’m always a little curious about how these madmen manage to recruit such dedicated henchmen – is it the dental plan?) But fear not, Ethan Hunt and the Mission Impossible team are on the case…

Agent Hunt has been languishing in a Russian prison for an ‘unsanctioned hit’ on some Serbian nationals. Don’t worry, he hasn’t gone rogue; apparently they murdered his wife. However the shadowy government figures in charge of the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) are in desperate need of their top agent, so they bust him out in classic Mission Impossible style. Hunt is no sooner reunited with his agency than he discovers that a former Russian advisor codenamed ‘Cobalt’ has decided the world would be better off starting over, and has decided to help it on its way with a little global nuclear warfare. IMF would intervene but Cobalt has thoughtfully blown up the Kremlin and left them holding the bag, so the president has no choice but to shut it down. Now only a few hours remain to prevent the total annihilation of the planet, and Ethan’s team is completely on its own – just the way he likes it.

Ghost Protocol is bubble-gum for the brain, but it certainly makes entertaining eye candy. Fans of the first three Mission Impossible films will find that Scientology has kept Tom Cruise nice and limber, and he’s engaged in a whole new array of mind-boggling stunts including a fly walk up the tallest building in the world. There are also plenty of new exotic locations – Moscow, Mumbai, Dubai – as well as a few new side-kicks. Cruise is joined by Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Town), Paula Patton (Déjà vu, Precious) and most notably Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz). Pegg does a good job as the goofy agent-cum-geek and even manages to add a little serious acting to his repertoire. But it’s Renner’s character that contributes the most to think about.

Renner plays Brandt, an agent who lost his feel for field missions after he failed to prevent Hunt’s wife from being killed. In an otherwise fanciful film, he illustrates just how paralyzing guilt can be. He has a chance to explain his past but responds pathetically, “Everyone has their secrets.” Brandt’s convinced that Ethan couldn’t possibly want him on his team if he was aware of his mistakes. However the truth is Hunt has known all along and chooses to see the operative Brandt could be, rather than the man he was. It’s the closest thing to grace in what is otherwise a blockbuster shoot-em-up, but I think it goes well with the fireworks.


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The Phantom of the Opera

Rating:  M
Distributor: DVD release through ABC Shops
Release Date: December 8, 15

Missed it on stage? Failed to catch it at the cinemas in October? Fret not! The anniversary release of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s masterpiece has made it to the shops just in time for Christmas. Who would have thought…

But seriously, The Phantom of the Opera provides shoppers with a moral contrast worth considering this Christmas. The current production is a performance in the Royal Albert Hall to mark the musical’s 25th anniversary. “Inspired by the original staging by Hal Prince and Gillian Lynne,” so the advertising blurb goes, “this lavish, fully-staged production set in the sumptuous Victorian splendour of London’s legendary Royal Albert Hall features a cast and orchestra of over 200, plus some very special guest appearances.” They’re not exaggerating. This production utilizes every byte of HD data to provide a gorgeous looking, evocative performance. The parts are played by the London cast of the sequel Love Never Dies, and the DVD has been available from December 8, whereas HD fanatics will have to wait till December 15 for the BluRay release.

Based on the novel by French author Gaston Leroux, Phantom tells the tale of a horribly scarred composer who haunts a Parisian theatre. He discovers an unusual talent in the chorus girl Christine and trains her to perfection, but his plans to display his brilliance are thwarted by the return of her childhood friend Raoul. Torn between her bewitching tutor and her young admirer Christine must make a choice that could kill the man she loves – but which will it be?

The DVD version of the production was released on December 8, and the BluRay comes out December 15. It’s a classic ‘choice plot’ – will the girl settle for the old master whom she benefits from, or the young man who devotes himself to her? It’s also a clear presentation of the two types of love on offer. The first is the more worldly that characterizes many relationships today, an affection that depends on what the beloved gives to us. The second is more Christian in character. Raoul, like Christ, is more concerned with what Christine needs than what he might receive. Like Jesus, his death is an exchange he’s prepared to make for the sake of his beloved’s safety.