MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL – What I recall about the original late '60s, early '70s television series was that each episode had a complicated plot in which someone wound up pulling off their face.
In this fourth film installment, the plot merely sounds complex because the reality is that it's recycled from several 007 storylines where a guy (Michael Nyqvist) owns a satellite and wants to use it to start a nuclear war between superpower nations.
The movie series has added exotic locales to the mix along with risky second unit stunt sequences. The latter elements are its strength and include a Russian prison break, a bombing of the Kremlin (Now that's entertainment!), skyscraper repelling in Dubai, a car chase through a blinding sandstorm and a fight in a moving, multi-level parking garage. It's all great fun and wildly enhanced by John Hirsch's tight editing throughout all the proceedings.
The quartet of M:I agents (Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner) have good chemistry that makes up for the rather nondescript villains who never really conjure up a menacing presence except for a sensuous female assassin (Lea Seydoux) who doesn't get near enough screen time.
Aside from the self-destructing communique that lays out the players and plot at the beginning, aficionados of the Bruce Geller created TV show will be hard-pressed to find any links with the original work. But since that Peter Graves-Martin Landau series was an offshoot of the James Bond craze, I'll give the movie's "can you top this?" feel a pass because it's
CRITIC'S GRADE: B
MOVIES TO WATCH FOR IN JANUARY: THE DEVIL INSIDE (January 6), BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 3D (January 13), CONTRABAND (January 13), JOYFUL NOISE (January 13), HAYWIRE (January 20), RED TAILS (January 20), UNDERWORLD AWAKENING (January 20), THE GREY (January 27), MAN ON A LEDGE (January 27)