Thursday, February 28, 2013

Super Short Review: Mission Impossible (4): Ghost Protocol

I understand the urge not to number your sequels, which might make your product look derivative or cynical; but it's also just helpful to your customers to keep things straight. (This is especially true with Apple iPads: trying to buy things for your first-gen iPad can be a pain since the third-gen is also just known as "iPad"--there's far too much small-print reading involved.)

One nice thing about sequels is that you generally know what you're going to get, up to a point. Case in point, the Mission: Impossible franchise: do you like big action sequences tied together with exposition sequences? Then you might like this film.

When I saw this in the theater, I loved the action sequences, which had a cartoonish kineticism and disregard for the characters' health. On the small screen--especially at the gym--I still love the the action sequences, though the exposition sequences seem slightly worse and any pretense of an emotion other than excitement seems more awkward.

The action sequences seem especially well done because of the way they keep piling problems on our protagonists and play with certain expectations. For instance, when Ethan Hunt has climbed up the world's tallest tower, he sees a sand storm, but that's not the problem--the problem is that one of his gloves malfunction and his glass cutter malfunctions and there's no way to get him back unless he jumps out one window and towards another. And what's great about that jump is that, rather than barely make the distance and end up grasping on with only his arms, he overshoots the jump and ends up bashing his face into the top of the window and not holding on with anything.

No one goes to an M:I film expecting great exposition, because they're essentially heist films with multiple heists (or tricks). In a heist film, the purpose of the exposition is purely to exposit for the heist--not to express/build character and rarely to build conflict or heighten tension. So here, there're a few nods towards making exposition interesting: when the Secretary is telling Ethan what he has to do, his analyst is clearly uncomfortable with that. But most often these nods are pro forma or worse; for instance, heading to the Burj Khalifa setpiece, the characters are in a car and have to swerve suddenly to miss camels. Why the sudden swerve? Could the driver not look ahead on that perfectly clear day and straight stretch of road and not see the camels? That moment seems like a poor way to create "drama."

No comments:

Post a Comment