Well it seems Brad Bird really is THAT talented. Working with Bad Robot, Bird continues where JJ left off, making sure there's an actual story and character involved with this race against time in the realm of modern super spies. I love some spy movies, whether it's the hush hush battle for information like The Spy Who Came In From The Cold or the absurdly bombastic gadget filled adventure like Mr. Hunt here. I mentioned earlier that I didn't care too much for the first two Mission movies, with JJ being the only director who seemed to be able to make me care about what was going on. Bird steps in and just blows everyone away. I like Abrams film but Bird takes everything to the next level
without sacrificing story and coherence. Is the film going to win any awards? Absolutely not, but this is not just a brain dead film with robots going boom boom. Let's elaborate for a bit.
Tom Cruise is Ethan Hunt. Even in the first two films you could tell Cruise was passionate about the role. Here he excels better than I've seen him in recent years. You can tell how much fun he's having throughout the whole film and he nails the simple confidence with ease. Even so much as letting the slightest bit if worry grace his face when the odds seem so dire.
What's even more exciting is they finally have a team that can toe to toe with Ethan. Everyone is a great developed character that we invest in. Simon Pegg gets a well deserved upgrade from the last film and brings some comic relief without being out of place. Paula Patton is the female of the group and she plays her insecurities well making her vulnerable and relatable. I love that when it comes time to do some seducing she begins to struggle. Renner was the assumed future Ethan Hunt, and I say I would much rather have them have future adventures as partners. There is just the slightest bit of friction between and they play off of each other wonderfully. Renner dials back the intensity until it comes time to explode and he unleashes how badass he is. Now Gosling had a similar scene in Drive, with Gosling winning the award for subtle performance. But then this isn't that kind of movie. After seeing Renner have some zero g acrobatics(in a modern homage to the first Mission movie) my new dream is for him to go head to head with Levitt.
Bird is really the star of this one though. He brings the sense of adventure from The Incredibles and somehow adapts those insane situations to real life. The movie starts off roaring out the gate with a brief but exciting turn by Josh Holloway, which just reinforced how badass Sawyer is. He films his action scenes with coherent view points and motivation. He plays the tension. Constantly reminding us of Ethan's humanity. The scene from the poster with Ethan climbing te largest building in the world is incredibly well done. Bird takes full advantage of the IMAX technology bringing you into the screen with Cruise. He shoots it so well you begin to thin you're going to take the 130 story fall with him. Obviously it won't go smoothly, but bird keeps you guessing an when Ethan has to make a (ahem) leap of faith I actually gasped which caught me off guard. He leaps from set piece to set piece with ease as Ethan and crew try to stop nuclear war while on the run from Russian police who think they blew up the Kremlin.
A triumphant move to live action for Brad Bird. He keeps an immense scale throughout the whole film while never forgetting to remind us that these are people with flaws and fears. Like I said its not going to win any awards but is a fine example of how to do blockbuster cinema and further proof that you don't need to treat your audience like idiots. Tin Tin comes out next week and I'm excited to see Spielberg return to worldwide adventure story. From the trailers alone he seems more passionate about this than the last Indiana film. Here's hoping he doesn't get shown up by a writer for the Simpsons.
One last thought - the prologue? An amazing tease of the scale we are about to
witness. Bane is incredibly cool and menacing, yah it was hard to hear him but the mix was booming so loud some of the people without masks were being drowned out. His voice is as cool as everyone says, and when you see the type of violence and mayhem he causes you realize if Joker was evil incarnate, Bane is a representation of pure destructive force. When the Batman music began at the end of the prologue and we get some quick glimpses of the film I cannot explain the amount of need I had for new pants. Here's Hawk's much more in depth coverage.