Super spy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise)  scales a skyscraper in Dubai in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.

Super spy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) scales a skyscraper in Dubai in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.

Aisle Seat: Cruise is back and in control

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol: three and a half stars out of five

  • Dec. 30, 2011 12:00 p.m.

Whew. Darn good thing Tom chose to accept this one. See, while Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol might not be the smartest edition of the franchise, it’s by far the most entertaining.

A solid bundle of adrenaline, international locations and –– no way, you say? –– cleverly positioned sarcastic wit, this sequel is what two and three should’ve been. Fun.

And it couldn’t come at a better time for Mr. Cruise. I mean, Mission: Impossible pretty much sums up salvaging this dude’s career.

It’s not that the films he’s been making the last few years –– Tropic Thunder, Valkyrie and even Knight and Day –– were horrible, but when you spend your off hours couch jumping with Oprah and angrily debating the merits of happy pills with Matt Lauer, those box office numbers seem to take on a few dips.

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol is a step in the right direction, if for no other reason than THIS is the Tom Cruise we like, the Tom Cruise we’ll happily pay to see. It’s Tom Cruise, definitive action star.

Returning as Ethan Hunt, leader of the International Missions Force (IMF, for short), the grim-faced and physically chiseled super spy (if there’s any question whether the 49-year-old can run and jump like he used to, the answer is a resounding yes) is forced to dig his team out of a huge hole in this one.

Accused of bombing the Kremlin and thus, disowned by the U.S. government, IMF is on its own here, desperate to restore their good name by recapturing a nuclear activation device. Kind of a vital gadget to maintain global peace, yeah?

Hunt’s posse consists of tech engineer Benji (Simon Pegg, the comedy relief), slick fellow agent Jane (Paula Patton, the hottie) and former government suit Brandt (Jeremy Renner), a chap who doesn’t spill all of his secrets too early, making for a pretty interesting character in an otherwise cookie-cutter trace.

The chemistry works.

Add director Brad Bird, whose experience comes largely from animated epics (The Incredibles), and you’ve got a heap of icing on the cake. I mean, Ghost Protocol’s action sequences are SO ridiculously ambitious (climbing a 100-plus story Dubai tower with one hand) they could easily BE a cartoon, so why not bring in an expert?

A successful roller coaster action ride with Tom Cruise at the wheel? That’s not only long overdue, I’d have to say that’s mission accomplished.

The feature is currently playing at Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.

–– Jason Armstrong is the longtime movie reviewer at The Morning Star. His column, Aisle Seat, runs every Friday and Sunday.