I'm not a big fan of Tom Cruise. I AM a big fan of Brad Bird, and seeing as how this was his first live-action movie, I wanted to see how he did. If I was pressed for my initial reaction to the movie, I would say it was okay. Not great, not mind-blowing, not spectacular....just okay.
First off, I'm not a fan of the MI movies. Why, you ask? Because Abrams pulled a dick move in the first movie and made Jim Phelps (the original MI agent from the classic tv show) the bad guy. He essentially just took a gigantic shit on all the fans of the tv show (which he did again with his version of Star Trek, but that's for another story). So the two things compelling me to see this installment was Brad Bird, and The Dark Knight Rises prologue. BUT, I still went into this movie with an open mind and treated it as a spy movie that had nothing to do with a great tv series.
What I got was a lot of people running after and away from each other on foot. Actually a shit-ton of running. In a movie that has a run time of 2 hours and 13 minutes, one hour was just of people running on foot. The chase scenes were so long they actually got boring. The most exciting scene in the movie you've already seen on tv commercials. It's the skyscraper free climb. That was also the most stunt-intensive scene in the movie.
In other words, for a big budget, spy-action movie, it was strangely devoid of big scenes that made the audience go 'wow'. Which I found very disappointing.
As for the actors, Tom Cruise played the agent that has everything well in hand (which became kind of annoying because it meant the character is never in any real danger...except for the skyscraper scene). Simon Pegg played......Simon Pegg. He's supposed to be the techie of the bunch, but he's throwing out little one liners and even a few lines from movies he's made in the past. Paula Patton was pretty, but never any real personality for the role. In fact, a female assassin played by Lea Seydoux not only upstages Patton, but makes me wish that their roles had been reversed. Jeremy Renner was the only star in the bunch that actually shined brightly. Not only did he do a great and believable job, but he even conveyed the fun that he was having with the role as well. The guy who played the villain was so bad, that I didn't even bother to learn or look up his name. Nope, I have the IMDB page open, but I'm not even looking at his name because he played an easy role so badly that you could easily interchange him with any James Bond, low rung lackey and get a better villain in the trade.
In the end, I walked out of this one tired, not pumped (which I usually am after a good action movie) with kind of a 'meh' indifference to the whole thing. Or let me put it another way....the night before I was fortunate enough to see The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR) six minute prologue in a sneak preview in the IMAX theater. I waited in line two and half hours for a t-shirt and a six minute preview. That six minutes had a tighter action sequence and an spectacular stunt that left me floored than the entire two hour and thirteen minutes of MI4 did. In fact, as I was leaving the MI4 screening I actually was running the prologue back through my head and marveling at how much better (and tighter), and how much more exciting that six minutes was compared to all of MI4.
MI4 could easily have been trimmed down to 90 minutes, since the plot really isn't anything you haven't already seen before in a Bond movie (which is better anyway (even the shitty ones with Brosnan as Remington Steele...err...'Bond')). So the bottom line is is it worth the IMAX ticket price? That depends. Do you want to see a spectacular six minutes of action with TDKR only to be let down with the mediocre action and questionable special effects of the two hour movie that follows it? If your answer is 'no', then I'd say this is a bargain matinee only if you're really super bored during the holidays and you've already seen everything else in the theaters at least twice. Otherwise, I'd say skip it and watch it on DVD or pay-cable movie networks.
Oh, I'm aware that some you out there think I hate everything (which is far from the truth, I'm just so good at crucifying the bad stuff that you remember that much more vividly), but I overheard more than a few people leaving the theater saying that it was boring, with a few even saying they fell asleep. For a 7:30pm showing. So I wasn't the only one.
Rating: Bargain matinee only if you've seen everything else in the theater, otherwise wait until DVD.