Review | Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Credit: David James/Paramount Pictures

Opens: Wednesday 12/21

Us Rating: ***

You've gotta hand it to Tom Cruise: At 49, he single-handedly gives the fourth installment of his franchise its heart-racing pulse. The high-energy exploits start even before the famed fuse gets lit, as secret agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) breaks himself out of a Russian prison. But when he and his new team (played by Paula Patton and Simon Pegg) fail their first mission at the Kremlin, they must go rogue and try to stop a nuclear attack. Just like its predecessors, the movie peaks when the star taps his inner X Games athlete.

Here, he races down 100 stories of the world's tallest building, in Dubai (a vertigo-inducing thrill!), and zip-lines barefoot onto a moving truck. (Jeremy Renner brings gravitas to his role as the agency's new analyst, but he doesn't sweat nearly as much as Cruise.)

Alas, by the time the gang heads to India, all the razzle-dazzle begins to fade. There's a been-there, done-that feel to the technological gizmos -- and then the pace grinds almost to a halt in the climactic showdown. Maybe because Cruise is forced to slow down for a minute?