Aired on 6ter, “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” is not only one of the most spectacular and lucrative episodes of the saga: it is also the one that redefined it, at the dawn of the 2010s.
Released in December 2011 in theaters worldwide, Phantom Protocol had become, with $ 694.7 million in revenue, the biggest hit of Tom Cruise’s career, a title that Fallout stole from him seven years later. This mission, however, the actor almost never could accept it. Not for a question of will but because Paramount had broken the exclusive contract which bound them in August 2006. Without doubt to make it pay for the disappointing results of Mission: Impossible III at the box office as much as the promotion it had vampirized by speaking more of his private life than of the feature film of JJ Abrams. Although a producer, he then loses the rights to the saga of which Brad Pitt could have been the new hero according to a rumor. But things do not move until May 2008, when the hypothesis of a reconciliation begins to circulate. It takes place in two stages: a year later, then at the end of March 2010, when a director is chosen.
Exit JJ Abrams, who nevertheless remains present in the production, and place to Brad Bird for a baptism of fire, since it was the first feature film in live action for this defector of Pixar. Coming from a universe, animation, where nothing seems impossible, the director will apply to the feature film the same principle as for his Incredibles, with a small inversion to the key: instead of treating his superhero story as from espionage, it is his spies who become superheroes. Mostly one. Because it is with Protocol Phantom that is established for good what appears today as one of the trademarks of the franchise, namely those moments when Tom Cruise cheats on death, alone and without recourse to special effects. digital.
GO FOR A TOWER
It is therefore at the 828m of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest tower in the world, that he attacks to literally allow Ethan Hunt to reconnect with the summits. Upon learning that Phantom Protocol would be the first Hollywood film to be shot in the United Arab Emirates, the hypothesis of seeing Tom Cruise climb the building came back like a joke in the press, until these vertiginous set photos of the star harnessed to several hundreds of meters in height. A real feat that pushes the limits of the impossible and will occupy the heart of the promotion. More than the return of Simon Pegg to the casting or the arrival of Jeremy Renner, whose studio wanted, at the time, to make the new hero of the saga to replace the current star, considered aging.
An idea that still makes people smile today, because the actor nominated for the Oscars for Minesweeper has never managed to put himself at the level of Tom Cruise. And maybe that’s why his interestingly presented William Brandt character then took a back seat before shining through his absence in Fallout without it getting in the way of the narrative. But we’ll get to that later, and it was then one of the attractions of Phantom Protocol, a film which, like its predecessor, takes Ethan and his team all around the world, from the Moscow Kremlin to Mumbai to Dubai. So many places in which Brad Bird lets his virtuosity speak to concoct a hectic adventure with cartoony accents, in his humor as in his situations.
“It’s not like every mission is going to be harder than the last, is it?” (Benji Dunn)
Between the inaugural escape in the Russian prison, the inflatable mattress of Hanaway (Josh Holloway) which deploys instantly, the infiltration of the Kremlin thanks to a screen that projects what the guard sees, the final in the mobile parking lot or even the famous climbing of the Burj Khalifa, of which Sabine Moreau (Léa Seydoux) falls like the Coyote of the Looney Tunes after a fierce fight with Jane Carter (Paula Patton), Brad Bird gives us more than once the impression of attending a animated feature film led by characters of flesh and blood. A bias that accords with the physical evolution of the character of Ethan Hunt, for whom the word “impossible” does not seem to mean anything any more, even if it is greeted with perplexity and / or a smile by his partners, perfect relay of the spectator.
RETHINKING THE IMPOSSIBLE
Retaining the notion of team reinstated by JJ Abrams after the solo of Mission: Impossible II, Phantom Protocol installs a lot of tenderness and benevolence between the members gathered by Hunt, so much so that the small group reminds us of the Parr family of the Incredibles, superpowers less. Brad Bird thus seizes the formula put in place by his predecessor and some codes of the saga, the masks in mind, but raises his spectacular side by several notches by multiplying the pieces of bravery. With the most limited possible use of digital effects, which allowed the film to mature and retain its freshness over the viewings, where that of John Woo was sooner dated.
As in the opus released in 2000, Ethan Hunt becomes a superhero again and indulges once again in the joys of climbing. But Mission: Impossible – Phantom Protocol doesn’t neglect its human side and thus involves us more in the narrative, or Jane’s desire to avenge the death of Hanaway that occurred in the opening scene. With the exception of Benji, in charge of the side “comedy” despite his evolution and his importance in the finale, each member of the team hides injuries and secrets. Especially Brandt, CIA analyst with a little too advanced combat skills and whose past contributes to make the hero a tragic character. He is indeed linked to his wife Julia (Michelle Monaghan), whose death we are told before revealing that she is still alive, hidden, and that her husband had to give up seeing her in order to better protect her and prevent ‘she is not targeted.
Ethan thus loses one of the rare links connecting him to the real world, while he can no longer really count on the IMF, whose agents are disowned following the attack in the Kremlin which definitively launches the story. The mission therefore takes place off the beaten track and we wonder if we should not see a link with the fact that, despite their reconciliation, Tom Cruise and Paramount continue to keep the saga alive but no longer work together in a way. exclusive as before. Even if the character has always had concerns with the authorities, we must admit that the coincidence seems big. The same goes for his first appearance, from behind and in the half-light of a prison cell where the character is “hidden” after staging the death of his wife.
Clearly less in the smell of sanctity than at the time of the first and second opus, Tom Cruise here seems to come back on tiptoe and lay a low profile before reclaiming his world: with the mixture of humor and action of the escape scene from the prison first, then by surpassing ourselves and showing an XXL investment to invite us to “rethink the impossible”, as one of the trailers says. A reconquest operation that pays off since Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol has established itself as the most lucrative opus of the franchise at the time of its release and until 2018, and very often comes back to the fore when ‘it is about making a classification of the episodes.
With the staging of Brad Bird, as spirited as in the credits audaciously re-orchestrated by Michael Giacchino, the feature film is however stronger visually and in its way of telling its story than on the thematic level, much more light than in the previous ones. It remains nonetheless a jubilant and high level entertainment, which allows his star to return to the heights, both literally and figuratively, and to finish with a smile before disappearing in the heart of a cloud of smoke. On the scale of the saga, it is also very important by establishing a standard that the following opuses will seek to exceed and by involving Christopher McQuarrie, screenwriter who officiates here as a script doctor and is about to take the lead.
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