Brad Bird's "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" is such a feat of high-tech globe-trotting spy-movie extravagance that it takes nearly the majority of the film's running time to reveal itself as a frivolous, hoary nuclear arms showdown. (Among the film's drawbacks, convolution is certainly not among them.)
Not that most - included myself - are complaining, because the kind of propulsive, glossy, high-wire stuff that this film is selling is delivered with minimum pretense and maximum exuberance. Trust me, one glance at a decidedly spry 49 year-old Tom Cruise clinging to the side of the Burj Khalifa (a 160-story skyscraper in Dubai) and frankly, you'll be willing to forgive its shortcomings.
And this level of exemplary agility - the jaw-dropping stunt-work and the nerve and frequency of which it's on display - is more admirable and more intoxicating than anything seen this year in cinema's girth of mega-budgeted live-action behemoths. In fact, the first 90 minutes of the film work so well that you can almost overlook the rote, perfunctory and borderline-satirical action-climax that proceeds them.
But Cruise, whose wattage as a significant on-screen draw seems dimmer (at least in this country) with each passing day, nevertheless proves (in a way far more convincing than last summer's flimsy "Knight and Day") that when it comes to these kinds of physical, charismatic, suave action roles, nobody does it better - cue Carly Simon. [B]