Full review’s over here.

This will be a rather less full review. In short: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fourth sequel (third sequel?) that’s flat-out good. No fair counting A New Hope. Scream 4 was okayish. I think Jason 4 was oddly decent, and I heard surprisingly good things about Fast Five. But that might be the complete list. Generally by the time a franchise gets that deep, it’s just milking what’s come before; it’s creatively bankrupt, shaking the loose change from the pants of passing fans before gearing up for the next duh-duh sequel.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is the fourth in the series. And it’s good. Really good. Easily one of the best action movies of the year. A lot of this is because they hired Brad Bird to direct. You know what else Brad Bird has directed? The Iron Giant. The Incredibles. Ratatouille. A handful of great animated movies, in other words–but no live-action stuff.

So this was a bit of a gamble. A gamble along the lines of giving The Lord of the Rings to Peter Jackson or Spider-Man to Sam Raimi. And a gamble that paid off just as well, with vivid, colorful, kinetic action sequences that sometimes look like they could only exist in the anything’s-possible world of animation.

Here’s hoping Bird gets plenty more work–ideally, a whole new franchise of his own.

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