Review: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (12A) ****

Change is good. In the three previous Mission: Impossible films, leading man Tom Cruise has been put through his paces by different visionary film-makers – Brian De Palma, John Woo and JJ Abrams.

Brad Bird, Oscar-winning director of The Incredibles and Ratatouille, might seem an unlikely candidate to orchestrate the slam bang thrills of this fourth high-octane caper but he is an inspired choice.

Impossible Missions Force operative Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is sprung from a Russian jail by fellow agents Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg). They are ordered to break into the Kremlin to steal intelligence files that reveal the identity of a terrorist codenamed Cobalt.

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The mission turns sour when madman Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist) detonates a bomb inside the iconic building to cover up the theft of Russian nuclear launch codes.

The next James Bond movie will have to up its game to match the miasma of ingenious gadgets, bone-crunching fight sequences and death-defying acrobatics in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Bird’s film is a delight, careening from the jail break and the demolition of the Kremlin to a breathless chase through a sand storm and a bruising skirmish in an Indian car manufacturing plant. What Andre Nemec and Josh Appelbaum’s script lacks in plausibility it compensates for with unabashed, all-guns-blazing fun. For now, 2011 ends with an almighty bang and Cruise firmly in control.

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