Hark! Is that an angel or just the sound of a franchise creaking? That noise is definitely not Tom Cruise’s knees. At nearly 50, he looks great, apart from a few cruel camera close-ups on his face.
“MI4” is entertaining, but lacks the oomph of the first two films. Although much better than “MI3”, it all feels like a cartoon, which is where director Brad Bird has done most of his best work including “Up” and “Ratatouille”.
There are various rules directors have to follow in making action movies these days:
1) There will be terrifying aerial shots that are not for those who are scared of heights.
2) There is no maximum number of guns allowed. More is better. Even more is much, much better.
3) Fights will be frequent and will include women. Their clothing will wiggle around, to reveal bits of their anatomy.
4) The bad guy always loses.
5) One of the bad guys is a girl. She is criminally pretty.
6) Explosions, running a great deal and phone and high-tech trickery must be frequent and loud.
All these rules are followed very strictly in “MI4”. Bird’s animation expertise brings new life to the franchise, but it would have been better if the script, which is credited to three writers, had been a little less cartoonish.
You can see the bad guys coming as they almost have sneers and bad facial hair, although those actual features are not here.
Instead, we have the marvellous Michaael Nykvist of Sweden’s TV and movie “Girl” as the bad guy, ably helped along by Lea Seydoux. Both look wonderful and are super baddies.
The plot – don’t you fret about that little thing – is about the MI team being disavowed (yet again) and having to figure out who bombed the Kremlin and may have B-I-G weapons which could start a world war.
The sidekicks are special. Simon Pegg is very funny as a computer geek and Paula Patton – who was very affecting as the teacher in “Precious” and as Claire in “Deja Vu” – adds sparkle and wit as well as glamour.
Jeremy Renner from “Hurt Locker” is all action man, yet subtly brooding over past pain.
There are slow bits, which no action movie can afford. Brad Bird has a lyrical sense and it just does not fit in here. You could tell when the movie had lingered and tried to say and mean something, because all the phones in Stratford Picturehouse went on and the little lights showed apps being switched on and played with.
Only another explosion would stop them. Fortunately, there are lots of explosions here. Your attention doesn’t wander for long.
Dubai, India and Canada substituting for Seattle all make for lovely locations.
As a great fan of the original TV series, I am glad they have kept Lalo Schifrin’s iconic theme tune and so much of the spirit of the preposterous plots, lavished with gimmickry, that featured on TV.
This will look very good on a small screen and will be snapped up by millions on DVD.
I enjoyed it and it wasn’t a bad way to end my movie-viewing year. If you like Tom Cruise, you’ll adore it. For me, it passed the time well, but I don’t need to change my list of top 10 films of the year. Indeed, it won’t make my top 25 of 2011.
If you want to see a Christmas-free movie, with fantastic stunts and fights, this is for you. Most of the audience was male and between 17 and 30-years-old.
Happy New Year to you all! Thank you for following me and a very big thank you to Stratford Picturehouse, Notting Hill Gate Picturehouse, the British Film Institute and ShowFilmFirst for all the great films I saw. A special thank you to everyone who made the movies I saw as without you, life would be much less fun.