guardian.co.uk Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol; The Wicker Tree; The Iron LadyAfter blotting his copybook with the drearily disappointing Knight and Day, Tom Cruise regains his multiplexaction mojo with the surprisingly sprightly Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011, Paramount, 12). Thrown into the wilderness by an absurdly contrived chain of conspiratorial events culminating in the near-destruction of the Kremlin, the now-rogue Ethan Hunt ventures to Dubai, Mumbai and various other scenic locales where he and his crack team of elite outcasts must reclaim their mission status against predictably impossible odds.Having clearly workshopped the audience responses from previous films, the writers (Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec are credited) contrive to bring comic sidekick Simon Pegg to the fore in the manner of Joe Pesci in the Lethal Weapon sequels, while simultaneously breaking up the all-boys club with ass-kicking heroine Paula Patton.If it all sounds terribly cynical on paper, the on-screen results are far more likably playful, thanks largely to the input of director Brad Bird, whose previous films include Pixar superhero hit TheIncredibles and the still underrated The Iron Giant.It's often been said that animation is the perfect training ground for a medium in which storyboarding is central, and Bird follows in the grand tradition of Walerian Borowczyk, Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton et al in proving that maxim to be true.

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Don't let the lower case letterings in his name fool you. He's quick and deadly with the headlines and he's always on target. His delivery could use more work though.

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