A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the fourth installment in the popular Mission: Impossible franchise has all the hallmarks that made the previous incarnations successful: a twisty plot, a motley crew (led by Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt) on a spying mission, and lots and lots of jaw-dropping stunts and high-tech gadgetry. Expect tons of thrilling-but-violent action sequences, including assassinations and weapons that maim, bomb, and kill. The body count definitely adds up, but blood is minimal. There's also some swearing (including "s--t"), as well as some kissing and flirting, social drinking, and smoking.
What's the story?
Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is locked in a Russian prison, but not for long. His new team (Paula Patton and Simon Pegg) assists him as he executes a flawless escape that lands him on the other side of the wall and smack into his next mission: to capture Cobalt, a terrorist determined to cause global havoc. The villain has found a way to make it look as if Hunt and his crew, which now also includes a mysteriously skillful analyst (Jeremy Renner), are rogues, leaving the U.S. government with little recourse but to put them on "ghost protocol" -- untethered and unassisted as they attempt to put a stop to Cobalt and his nefarious plans.
Is it any good?
Ethan Hunt is back, and so is Tom Cruise; any fans who were put off by his tabloid-fodder exploits will be lured back by his considerable charms, which are all put to good use here. Though Cruise certainly isn't the only game in town this time around. Renner is a formidable addition (and if, as rumor might suggest, he does take over the franchise from Cruise someday, it could work), and Patton takes her heroine duties seriously, while Pegg keeps the patter light and chuckly.
Director Brad Bird, a veteran of memorable animated movies like The Incredibles and The Iron Giant, knows how to spin a thrilling yarn. The storyline is vintage Mission: Impossible -- international conspiracy, high stakes, ticking time bomb -- and includes enough high-tech wizardry to make any gadget fanatic swoon. Yes, the resuscitation of Cold War theatrics feels a mite too retro, and the ending borders on maudlin. Not that it makes a whit of difference. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL clearly accepted a mission to entertain, and it does so with flair.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: December 16, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: April 17, 2012
- Cast: Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, Tom Cruise
- Director: Brad Bird
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures
- Run time: 133 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of intense action and violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.