*** (out of four)
Tom Cruise runs like a maniac. It’s kind of awesome.
The much-maligned but still very commanding movie star’s relentless, up-for-anything energy keeps the blood flowing and the stunts, uh, stunting in the first “Mission: Impossible” movie since 2006’s great “Mission: Impossible III.” I mean, I can’t say how much Cruise did or didn’t do atop the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building in Dubai, but the scene in which Ethan Hunt (Cruise) crawls up the building’s exterior to reach the 130th floor could make birds afraid of heights. It’s that high, and that gripping.
Not all of “Ghost Protocol” crackles as Ethan, his somewhat irritating comic relief (Simon Pegg), his gorgeous new partner (Paula Patton) and an analyst (Jeremy Renner) with surprisingly good hand-to-hand combat skills track down a Swedish “nuclear extremist” (Michael Nyqvist). Former “Alias” writers Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec may as well have named the villain and his agenda “Generic Bad Guy #5,” since Nyqvist, who was also bland as Mikael Blomkvist in the Swedish adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium” trilogy, brings zero personality to the role. The Russian investigators on Ethan’s team’s trail also add nothing.
As every spy-related action movie must cover at least four major parts of the world (sorry, “Tinker Tailor,” these are the stakes I prefer), “Ghost Protocol” hops from Budapest to Moscow to Dubai to Mumbai. In each place director Brad Bird (“Ratatouille,” “The Incredibles”) suggests that his first live-action film shouldn’t be his last. He brings new life to prison breaks and explosions and incorporates crazy-cool technology you wish you owned. Which is perfect, since Tim Gunn totally just called “Gloves that cling to the outside of skyscrapers” this year’s hottest holiday gift.
Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Fridays at 7:30 a.m. on WCIU, the U
firstname.lastname@example.org. @mattpaisCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times