I need to start with a story (if that sounds boring, skip to the third paragraph). So Kathy was flying in from Iraq yesterday and I planned to watch a film at the nearby mall (Polo Park) on the way to the airport. Just as I was about to leave, Kathy called to say she had missed the Winnipeg flight and would be arriving three hours later. For some reason it occurred to me that this would give me the chance to watch MI:Ghost Protocol at the IMAX. It would be tight but not impossible. Why did I want to see MI:GP at the IMAX in its first few days in town? Well (sarcasm alert!), apparently everyone else in the world is doing it and I do so much want to do what everyone else is doing. Besides, it was getting good reviews and it was NOT in 3D and I hadn’t visited an IMAX since London.
Okay. Mission One: Purchase ticket online to avoid last-minute problems. The website, however, is very unfriendly (poorly worded) and I wasted a precious three minutes finding the ticket-purchase page. Mission accomplished. Mission Two: Print out the ticket. I suddenly realized the laptop I was using was not set up to use my wireless printer. So run to my MacBook, which for some reason did not receive the email from cineplex using the same email account I had just accessed on the Dell. So run back to the Dell and forward the email to myself. Yes, it worked. Mission accomplished. Mission Three: Drive through the heart of Winnipeg in the middle of rush hour to get to the theatre before showtime. Already ten minutes later than I thought I could possibly be, this mission sounded impossible. But I drove like one of the maniacs who regularly frustrate me, weaving in and out of lanes like I was in the Indy 500. I’m getting close, but I’m trapped behind buses. Cut through the mall parking lot. Stopped by a huge crowd of college students crossing at the crosswalk. Drive another fifty yards. Stopped by an ambulance driver redirecting traffic in the opposite direction of where I needed to go. Don’t panic. Things are crowded ahead and not moving. But there’s an open parking spot. Park and hoof it, walking very fast through the entire length of Winnipeg’s largest mall six days before Christmas. Then zip through the parking lot and into the theatre. Get to the ticket checker. A newbie. Never seen an online ticket before. Don’t know why this machine not working. Getting manager. Manager scans ticket and I am in the theatre with five minutes to spare (good thing: there were no ads whatsoever before the film started - that’s worth the extra five bucks right there). It’s 25 minutes later than I had wanted it to be (I insist on a good seat) but the theatre is less than one-quarter full, so I actually found a decent seat. Mission accomplished.
That the above experience was thoroughly apropos to what I was about to see did not occur to me until well into the film. When it did, it enhanced my viewing experience, because MI:GP is just one long exhilarating roller-coaster ride of impossible missions needing to be completed within a four-minute or four-hour time frame while facing one obstacle after another. I understood. I was pumped full of adrenaline already. Bring it on!
So what have we got here? Fantastic exotic locations, nonstop action involving constant death-defying feats of agility, implausible minimalist plot, state-of-the-art cars, gorgeous women, the latest in technological gadgetry… wait a minute, this sounds like … Yeah, I’m no action fan, but I’m a sucker for a good Bond film, and when MI gets it right it is almost as good. And unlike MI II and III, MI:GP gets it right. At least at the IMAX, which immerses you in the action with its huge screen and mind-numbing sound.
The actors in MI:GP are well-cast, with Cruise at his best as Ethan Hunt (a man who endures more pain than is humanly possible; Cruise looks and acts WAY too young for his age), Simon Pegg providing lots of comic relief, Paula Patton, who grew on me throughout the film, Jeremy Renner, who can do no wrong, and my favourite Swedish actor, Michael Nyqvist, on hand as the baddie.
Brad Bird has made an action film that no action-lover or MI fan can afford to miss. I am no big fan of sequel films, so I should mention that MI:GP is no more a sequel than the Bond films. Maybe because of the IMAX or maybe because my life and that of Ethan Hunt are virtually indistinguishable ☺, I am going to give MI:GP ***+. My mug is up.