(Brad Bird, 2011)
Director Brad Bird has such a sparkling track record in animation - The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille is some run of work - and such a good reputation as the sort of artist who makes commercial, popular films which are also personal, that it wasn't all that great a surprise when Tom Cruise chose him to helm the fourth installment in his Mission Impossible series. And Bird does well here. While this may be his worst film as Director, it rivals Brian DePalma's original as the best in this series, a crisply directed, vigourous collection of sensational action sequences which gives the audience little time to consider its many flaws and implausibilities.
Chief among those flaws are the almost lazy story: IMF Agent Ethan Hunt and his disavowed team - an IMF for the austerity era - must stop a crazed extremist from starting a nuclear war. To do this they bounce across the globe; from Moscow to Dubai to Mumbai, and take him on in a series of fight scenes, attempted heists and chases. Most notable are Cruise's scaling the outside of The Burj Khalifa in Dubai, captured in a clutch of dizzying crane and helicopter shots by Bird. That scene is followed by a sharply edited, brutal fight scene which morphs into a car chase in a sandstorm. The villain is a little generic - he features rarely in the narrative, in fact - and most of the character material comes between the IMF team, where Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton are both slightly wasted despite emotional baggage in their back-stories, and Simon Pegg gets all the laughs.
Cruise is fine, and Robert Elwits photography, together with Michael Giacchino's score and the beautiful, atmospheric locations, ensure that it's aways a sensually pleasurable experience.