So yesterday, as part of Rosie and I’s mission to watch funny Hollywood action films, we went to see Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. (Spoiler alert from here on in blah blah blah). Actually, I shouldn’t even need to bother with the spoiler alert, since the trailer shows about 80% of the decent stunts, and the opening credits to the film show 90%, in sequence. This is a new horizon of bad directing that I hadn’t previously considered, but it has potential. For instance, if, after watching the credits and being tipped to the plot structure and major sequences, one decides not to view the rest of the film, the director has, in effect, saved you 90 minutes of your life, at the expense of suspense that never really existed anyway.
But anyways, the plot of Mission Impossible is pretty straightforward: Tom Cruise gets betrayed, he then jumps of impossibly high things, cars go flying, fist fights occur and in the nick of time, the world is saved. In this, the directing is pretty much completely spot on. The action sequences are at times so viscerally brutal that they made me wince. The stunts on the world’s tallest sky scraper made me queasy and the OTT “get in a car to drive it off the edge of a building” bit at the end had just the right amount of “Oh wow!” factor that it didn’t feel tired and old. One does, however, wonder why Tom Cruise didn’t spend a minute brutally killing the mad scientist, then getting the briefcasethatwillsavetheworld and saving the world. Instead he spends a couple of minutes grabbing for the briefcase while the aformentioned scientist sneaks up and pulps him every fucking time.
As for the dialogue. Fuck. Clunker central. Simon Pegg occasionally drops in the good line or two, but usually, it is a facepalm frenzy of cliches and tired crap. Less said about that, the better.
My only real problem with the film is the major, major plot hole in it towards the end. The plot hole being that a Russian sub launches a nuclear missile, they then race to shut the missile down before it hits Seattle or something (would the nuclear annihilation of Seattle been all that bad? That’s another question entirely). The point being that you can’t do that, ever. The whole point of nuclear missiles, particularly sea launched ballistic missiles as in the film, is that once they launch there is no turning back. That’s why there’s all the funny dual key turns, launch codes, authorisations and so on. Of course, us Brits have the additional safeguard of a polite letter from the Prime Minister saying what to do in the event of a nuclear holocaust, but that’s another matter. The point is, all nuclear policy is based on the idea that once a missile is launched, there’s no way to disable it. That’s why the Russians get so mad at America for trying to build missile defence shields. Nuclear deterrence doesn’t work if you can say “My bad” and flip the warhead off, mid flight, then someone else might be able to do it as well. If they can, then nuclear deterrence fails, and a state couldn’t be sure its missiles would work. Hence why they’re dumb, “fire and forget”, objects of impossible destructive force. Which is to say that Tom Cruise et al failed the moment the terrorists managed to launch the missile (or con the Russian sub commander into firing the missile).