'Ghost Protocol' finally manages to strike the perfect Mission Impossible balance between action, drama, intrigue and thriller themes. Once again, Tom Cruise steps into the shoes of super spy Ethan Hunt who is out to save the world from the impending machinations of a raving madman. When an IMF agent is killed while trying to intercept a courier with Russian nuclear launch codes, Hunt is busted out of his undercover stunt in Moscow prison to seek out the identities of "Cobalt," the rogue unit responsible. Hunt leads a team of IMF agents into the Kremlin to retrieve confidential files on Cobalt, but the mission goes awry when someone broadcasts information on an IMF frequency and gives their position away to Russian forces. Hunt and his team narrowly escape the Kremlin, only to watch as it is destroyed by a bomb. This triggers "ghost protocol," a contingency that disavows the entire IMF. Hunt and his team are officially pinned with full blame for the failure of the Kremlin mission, but that is a smokescreen for the real operation: to quietly seek out Cobalt and put a stop to their plans for a nuclear war that they believe will cleanse the Earth for the next stage of human evolution.
It's a hokey plotline, but it sure is a lot of fun! 'Ghost Protocol' marries elements from past Mission Impossible films without falling victim to any of their inherent weaknesses. The film is more understandable and straightforward than MI:1, just as action-packed, but less shallow than MI:2, and nowhere near as dramatic and dark as MI:3. The result is a perfect concoction of impressive action sequences with a smart, snappy storyline that keeps you riveted to your seat as you wait for the next bit of secret agent mumbo jumbo or neat gadget to pop up. This is easily the best Mission Impossible film to date, and director Brad Bird should be commended for cherry-picking the best ideas from the previous 3 films, while staying close to the feel of the original TV show. Scenes at the Burj Khalifa are breathtaking and delightfully tense as Hunt scales up the side of the world's tallest manmade structure using nothing but a pair of slightly faulty (naturally) climbing gloves. The entire film is soaked with a great sense of fun, even during more tense and dramatic scenes. The addition of William Brand (Jeremy Renner) to the team seems a bit unnecessary, however, and more as a play on Renner's newfound fame to help push ticket sales. Without him, the movie wouldn't have suffered one bit. 'Ghost Protocol' is in many ways just as dumb and simple as the storyline in Mission Impossible 2, but it sets itself apart with its lighthearted tone. This is refreshing after the dramatic debacle that was Mission Impossible 3, and paves the way for a leaner, better run of sequels in the future.
On Blu-Ray, MI3 lives up to the format with an absolutely STUNNING, shimmering transfer. Color saturation is rich without going overboard, and there's not a speck of dirt anywhere except in the sandstorm scene, which requires no explanation. Details are vivid and sharp without looking harsh, and edge softness is practically nonexistent. The Dolby 7.1 TruHD soundtrack is no less amazing, with sonic perfection blanketing every single scene, no matter how loud or quiet. Attention to detail is obvious everywhere, and should please the most demanding of audiophiles who appreciate just how important sound is to a film of this caliber. Once again, Paramount continues to set standards and raise the bar for how Blu-Ray releases should be. Studios take note! Extras are mostly a standard set of behind-the-scenes documentaries that are actually quite informative, especially when detailing how some of the film's most intense sequences were filmed. There's also a host of deleted scenes, but nothing memorable. Overall, the focus of the Blu-Ray release is on enjoying the film with maximum high impact visual and sound clarity, the way it was meant to be seen. A definite winner!