New 'Mission' full of thrills

Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn and Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in "Mission: Impossible - Ghost...

Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn and Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol."

LIZ BRAUN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:14 AM ET

Help wanted: Must be faster than a speeding bullet; more powerful than a locomotive; able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

That sounds like a job for Tom Cruise, back in action as Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, a rock-'em, sock-'em blockbuster that opens Friday in IMAX theatres. (The movie opens in regular theatres next Wednesday, Dec. 21.)

Like all good espionage movies, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol moves itself all over the globe. The movie hits the ground running with a shoot-out in Budapest, moves to a prison riot in Russia, zooms to a veritable combat zone in Dubai and touches down in India. It's fast and furious the whole way, and there's a lot to look at.

The stakes are high in this sequel, as Hunt and his team are disavowed by Washington and ostensibly shut down for good. There is no more IMF, no government support in any way, and it's every man for himself.

Ethan Hunt (Cruise) surfaces first in a Russian prison. His trusty team for this film includes characters played by Paula Patton and Simon Pegg; after they bust him out of that prison, the spy team gets a new player in Jeremy Renner.

The good guys are after a nuclear annihilation enthusiast who hopes to get his hands on some launch codes. His code name is Cobalt (Michael Nyqvist, also in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, opening next week) and he is armed and dangerous.

After Cobalt thoughtfully blows up the Kremlin, the IMF team gets blamed for the explosion -- and is cut loose to fend for itself. All they have to do now is accept a mission that will clear their names and save the planet from nuclear war.

Saving the world involves punching, shooting, driving like a maniac, running through sand storms and hanging off the tallest building in the world. The stunts are amazing and exhilarating; don't be surprised if you have a very physical response to watching Cruise scale the outside of a skyscraper with the help of Spiderman-like gloves. Vertigo? You'll be under your seat, friend.

Kudos to director Brad Bird, whose brings a fresh eye to the proceedings, and a whiff of his animation past on such films as The Incredibles or Ratatouille. Like a Saturday morning cartoon, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol has lots of humour and terrific little visual moments -- everything from Cruise's Springsteen T-shirt or his habit of vanishing before your eyes, to the way he drives a car.

Cruise is almost like a cartoon character anyway in the role of Ethan Hunt, and Bird seems to be having fun with that notion. It's a 'Man of Steel' sort of scenario, only with plenty of 'Meep Meep!' for good measure.

(This film is rated PG)


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