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Friday, December 23, 2011
BIRD'S 'MISSION' A HIT WITH CRITICS & PUBLIC
(MINOR) SPOILER: CODA PAYS TRIBUTE TO DE PALMA'S FILM
I'll get this minor SPOILER ALERT out of the way first (don't read if you don't want to know)-- Brad Bird's Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol ends with a cameo from Ving Rhames, playing Luther Stickell. After Ethan Hunt's latest adventure, Bird does a direct echo of the post-adventure scene in Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible by pointing the camera at a Seattle cafe's television, on which can be seen a newscaster explaining away the "official" cover-up version of the events which have just transpired in the film. The camera then pans through the cafe to find Ethan and Luther sitting at a table, enjoying a drink together as the two discuss the latest mission. (Bird's film also touches on the J.J. Abrams Mission story after the De Palma homage... not sure if the John Woo Mission is in here somewhere or not.)

I liked Ghost Protocol quite a bit. Bird really brought the playfulness to it that he spoke of in interviews, and the film has more than a few laughs coming from several directions, while still keeping a palpable spy-genre tension. The opening prologue brings the viewer right into the movie with a fast-paced chill, followed by a highly entertaining jailbreak mission. Worth noting is that Paul Hirsch, who edited the De Palma Mission, returns for the new one, as well.

While I feel the new film is the best one since the first one, I still feel that De Palma's is the best Mission so far. De Palma's film moves in a cooly fluid, insidiously beautiful way, with a layered, subversive element to the images. Bird's film advances in animated leaps and bounds, thrilling to the moment. Each version works, but it seems to me that the De Palma film has so much more to say about the dirty business of being a spy, and it does so rather chillingly.

OWEN & ARMOND REALLY LIKE 'GHOST PROTOCOL'
Two critics who really like Bird's film are Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman and City Arts' Armond White. Gleiberman includes Ghost Protocol at number ten on his list of 2011's best films, calling it the best in the Mission series. "In an action-ride culture that offers so much fake adrenaline," states Gleiberman, "it's cathartic to encounter the real thing."

Meanwhile, White begins his review of Bird's film this way: "Brian De Palma’s 1996 Mission Impossible was a cartoon even though he didn’t direct it like one. The sheer, exhilarating pleasure of Mission Impossible IV (officially subtitled Ghost Protocol) comes from star-producer Tom Cruise’s ingenious decision to cast animation master Brad Bird." White later continues, "Whereas De Palma’s hyper clear visual style was gravely emotional even when the action was absurd, it didn’t quite transform the TV-based material into the Fritz Lang revelation De Palma intended (despite the helicopter/train Chunnel sequence’s very obvious reference to Lang’s 1929 Spies). Bird’s movie is lighter, yet more visionary."

White further compares Abrams to Bird and De Palma: "Co-producer J.J. Abrams tried and failed to make a deluxe TV-movie in Star Trek. Abrams simply lacks a cinematic eye comparable to Bird (comparable to De Palma? Forget it.) Bird’s conceptual staging of a prison break, a choreographed seduction at a ball in India and a chase during a desert dust storm display a big-screen sense of movement that harkens back to great animation as well as silent movie slapstick."

In the final paragraph of the review, White claims that the Besson stable of directors is still the crew to beat when it comes to the action genre: "If Ghost Protocol was any better, it would match the splendid advance of action movie aesthetics that Luc Besson has spearheaded in the Transporter movies (especially Olivier Megaton’s Godardian Transporter 3) as well as Angel-A, Taken, From Paris with Love and this year’s terrific Colombiana. These recent heroic action narrative innovations by Besson, Paul W.S. Anderson and Neveldine-Taylor are accomplishing what De Palma was after. Hollywood is slow on the uptake. Tarantino, Eli Roth and their ilk can only amp-up brutality; they lack visual wit. But in Ghost Protocol, Cruise and Bird are catching up. It is a rare pleasure to salute a Hollywood action movie that gets it right."


Posted by Geoff at 7:48 PM CST
Post Comment | View Comments (6) | Permalink | Share This Post

Thursday, December 29, 2011 - 4:55 PM CST

Name: "Harry Georgatos"

De Palma's Mission film is a visual masterpiece with minimal action set-pieces! GHOST PROTOCOL has a bombardment of action that the first film fails to have! Also the way CIA works in De Palma's film smacks of falseness. One team would be recovering the dead bodies first, as if CIA would let Jim's body be floating in the City Prague river. Ethan was implicated to early as the mole! No one has the visual composition of De Palma. If only De Palma wrote the script himself!

Sunday, January 1, 2012 - 3:40 PM CST

Name: "Arni"

I love Brian's mission impossible. The theme in the beginning, the Langley scene, but above all the ridiculous helicopter scene in the end. I have always considered this film as Brian having a blast. He's making fun of the genre and of course the TV episodes the whole time. It's very predictable, but tons of fun, much more fun than the rest of the series. (i haven't seen the last one) The scene with Tom and Henry Czerny in the restaurant is so much fun, he camera movement, the dialogue, I love it and loved Henry's character.

 

But the main reason I'm commenting is to say:

Happy New Year, Geoff, and thanks for a wonderfully informative year. I will continue to follow this home page and hope for a more productive De Palma year ahead! 

Sunday, January 1, 2012 - 11:13 PM CST

Name: "Geoff"
Home Page: http://www.briandepalma.org

Thanks, Arnie-- happy new year to you and everybody here! Looking forward to a new De Palma movie shooting early in 2012.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 10:47 AM CST

Name: "SteveW"

I enjoyed "Ghost Protocol" up to a point--Bird has a terrific action-movie eye and the set pieces are the best since the original. But the new film is utterly lacking the sense of mystery and menace in De Palma's original. The much-criticized decision to kill off the team and make Phelps the bad guy was a daring move that genuinely subverted audience expectations. By contrast, the new movie has a generic bad guy and gives the audience exactly what it expects. Well-directed as it is, by the end I was bored with it all.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 - 2:41 PM CST

Name: "rado"
Home Page: http://rado.bg

Finally watched this and the big surprise is that I had read from fans that this one is only slightly below the original and that they are almost equal. Nonsense. It was watchable enough, even somehow suspenseful at times, but never a solid tour-de-force show and I never had the sense that there is a Master behind the screen working his magic. GP has merely adequate direction and the rest is up to its unlimited budget and an honest attempt to make the best job possible. Double opening (with a flashback inside – how can it grip anyone?) and an endless epilogue, while De Palma kept it economic as a wink at the audience. Now I understand why he removed important scenes – to keep it zippy and on the edge. The original followed the idea that what spies did – playing with the fate of people – is deeply troubled and they had to pay for it dearly. The fatal romance had gravity. The compositions, camerawork and cutting to screens told the whole story. Not to mention the Hollywood metaphor, the existentialism... What is the point of the new one, except entertainment and TV-style motivation? And what's with the ridiculous number of ideas from the original M:I that were replicated here?

Thursday, January 5, 2012 - 7:04 PM CST

Name: "harry georgatos"

Has De Palma commented on GHOST PROTOCOL? It would be good to know of what he thinks of GHOST PROTOCOL.

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