For what could have been a Tom Cruise vanity project, the Mission: Impossible series has been remarkably solid.  The idea to have a different director for each entry has been reasonably fruitful, though the extremely distinct styles of its first two entries – reflecting the status of their directors, perhaps – has given way to a less conspicuous visual mode.  Brian DePalma’s first entry was kind of brilliant in its use of wide angles and clear lines, playing up the director’s fascination with paranoia and subterfuge.  John Woo’s insipid M:I-2 was about as horrendous a film as I can remember, but it wasn’t lacking in those trademark slow-motion gun balletics or, indeed, doves.  The third in the series, directed by then-first-timer J.J. Abrams, came some years after the previous and in a way was a rejuvenation in terms of style, even as it reigned in the auteurist flourishes.  It was slick, to be sure, but it’s fun came from the zippy writing and plot movement instead of any sort of extravagant visual distinctness.  Now we have Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which sees Abrams return as a producer and Brad Bird, of The Incredibles and The Iron Giant fame, make his live-action directorial debut. Read the rest of this entry »