In what should have been a forgotten series, Brad Bird and J.J. Abrams breathe new life and maybe too many laughs in the languishing franchise. To be fair the current trend in action films is lean more towards the comic relief, but there are series that are entrenched in a legacy that transcends current fads. Consider for a moment, if you remember a lot of knee-slappers in the Bourne legacy or if indeed James Bond left you in stitches with his drink order. The Mission Impossible franchise, the films at least, were following this very paradigm; but to a detriment. By the time the third film came out the word of mouth informed many a casual fan that if you barely followed the plot of the sequel don’t bother to finish out the third installment. In a rare feat of cinematic resuscitation the brains behind the latest iteration of the Mission Impossible franchise has moved the series in the right direction.

To say the film moves at a break-neck speed is a disservice to the thought and careful plotting behind all of the action and exposition. Basically it looks great with smart gadgets and a plot that is within the viewers grasp. The first twenty minutes of the film are tightly plotted and paced to really reach in and grab the viewer. The best part of the opening of the film is that it has struck the correct balance of showcasing the beloved parts of the series as well as showcasing the stylistic and comedic flares that Bird and Abrams bring to the series.

The success of the film is then found in the proverbial ‘meat’ that follows and is instrumental in distancing ‘MI: Ghost Protocol’ from its franchise roots. No longer can Ethan Hunt rely on all of the frills and technology of an IMF team. When ‘Ghost Protocol’ is initiated Ethan must learn how to be a team player who must work within the limited resources and talent of the team that is assembled on hand with all the liabilities and frustrations that these limitations entail. So Ethan Hunt, still the perennial MVP, must rely on a team; creating the departure of a ‘single man verses world scenario’ and becomes the biggest strength of the plot.

The plot ultimately succeeds, then, when it’s readily accessible to the audience and adds all of these ingredients to the mix. The supporting team of Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, and most importantly Simon Pegg are not relegated to serve only Ethan but are fully fleshed out characters that make the difference in the film. They have foibles, back-stories, arcs, and knowledge outside of the protagonist that play to Abrams and Birds strength of well rounded, character driven story telling. All of this is a long winded way of saying that you aren’t wasting your time when watching them independent of Tom Cruise on screen.

‘Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol’ is ultimately a success because it is essentially its own chapter in the franchise and not another sequel. Perhaps the ‘Hot Fuzz’ reference in the subtitle of this article is a little too easy, but it’s not meant as an insult but a compliment. This movie succeeds in the same model, albeit more impressively plotted, than ‘Hot Fuzz’; think more of Guy Ritchie’s ‘Sherlock Holmes’ but split Watson into three well crafted side-kicks. Ultimately ‘MI: Ghost Protocol’ heads and shoulders above its straight action counterparts and the entire series that progenerate’s it as well. Bottom Line: You aren’t going to do much better with your movie dollar than ‘Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.’

PS: Tom Cruise is not gay.