In Budapest to intercept a courier holding Russian nuclear launch codes, IMF agent Trevor Hanaway (Josh Holloway) is killed by assassin Sabine Moreau (Léa Seydoux), who is working for a person code-named "Cobalt" (Michael Nyqvist).
Soon after, the other members of Hanaway's team — Jane Carter (Paula Patton), and newly promoted field agent Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) — extract Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and Ethan's source Bogdan (Miraj Grbic) from a Moscow prison.
Ethan is assigned to lead Jane and Benji in infiltrating secret Moscow Kremlin archives to locate files identifying Cobalt, who is known to be a Russian consultant with a goal of detonating a nuclear bomb.
During the mission, someone broadcasts across the IMF frequency, alerting the Russians to Ethan's team.
Although Benji and Jane escape, a bomb destroys the Kremlin, and Russian agent Sidorov (Vladimir Mashkov) arrests Ethan, suspecting him as responsible for the attack.
The IMF extracts Ethan from Moscow. In the mean time the Russians have called the attack an undeclared act of war, and the US president activates "Ghost Protocol", a black operation contingency that disavows the IMF.
Ethan and his team are to take the blame for the attack, but will be allowed to escape from government custody in order to track down Cobalt. Before Ethan can escape, the IMF's secretary (Tom Wilkinson) is killed by Russian security forces led by Sidorov, leaving Ethan and intelligence analyst William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) to find their own way out.
The team identifies Cobalt as Kurt Hendricks, a Swedish-born Russian nuclear strategist who believes the weak must die for the strong to survive, so he plans to start a nuclear war to initiate the next stage of human evolution. Hendricks bombed the Kremlin in order to acquire a Russian nuclear launch-control device; however, he now needs the activation codes from Moreau in order to launch a nuclear missile at the United States.
The exchange between Moreau and Hendricks's right-hand man, Marius Wistrom (Samuli Edelmann), is due to take place at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
There, Ethan's team members separately convince Moreau and Wistrom that they have made the exchange with one another.
However, Moreau identifies Brandt as an agent. While Ethan chases Wistrom — only to realize that Wistrom is actually Hendricks in disguise, escaping with the codes — on the other hand, Jane detains Moreau.
Moreau attempts to kill the inexperienced Benji, and Jane kicks her out a window to her death.
Brandt accuses Jane of compromising the mission for revenge against Moreau, but Ethan accuses Brandt of keeping secrets from them, as he has displayed fighting skills atypical of an analyst.
While Ethan seeks more information from Bogdan, Brandt admits he was assigned as security detail to Ethan and his wife, Julia (Michelle Monaghan), in Croatia. Brandt says that while he was on patrol, Julia was killed by a Serbian hit squad, prompting Ethan to pursue and kill them before he was caught by the Russians and sent to prison.
Bogdan and his arms-dealer cousin inform Ethan that Hendricks will be in Mumbai. Hendricks facilitated the sale of a defunct Soviet military satellite to Indian telecommunications entrepreneur Brij Nath (Anil Kapoor). The satellite could be used to transmit the order to fire a missile. The team heads to India to prevent Hendricks from using the satellite, which can be controlled from computers at Nath's home.
While Brandt and Benji infiltrate the server room to deactivate the satellite, Jane gets Nath to reveal the satellite override code.
But Hendricks has anticipated Ethan's plan and uses a virus to turn off Nath's servers before sending a signal from a television broadcasting tower to a Russian nuclear submarine in the Pacific to fire at San Francisco.
Ethan pursues Hendricks and the launch device while the other team-members attempt to bring the broadcast station back online. Ethan and Hendricks fight over the launch-control device before Hendricks jumps with it to ensure the launch.
Benji kills Wistrom, allowing Jane and Brandt to restore power to the station and enabling Ethan to deactivate the missile, while the fatally wounded Hendricks witnesses the failure of his plan just before he dies. Ethan is then confronted by Sidorov, who sees Ethan has stopped the missile, proving the IMF is innocent in the Kremlin bombing.
The team reconvenes weeks later in Seattle. Ethan introduces the team to longtime colleague Luther Stickell and then issues new assignments. Benji and Jane accept, but Brandt refuses.
Ethan reveals that Julia's death was staged, as he knew he could not protect her, and used her death as a pretext to infiltrate the prison, where he believed he would find men associated with Cobalt. Relieved of guilt, Brandt accepts his mission while
Ethan watches Julia from afar. She spots him, and they share a smile before he embarks on his next mission.
what i love most about this movie is the solid team of protagonists that seem to have a lot of chemistry together. i particularly love Brandt's character. and the best scene that wins hands down would be when Jane kicks Moreau out of the tall Burj Khalifa. yup. the BEST!
and the twist at the end regarding Brandt's absolution of guilt is very nice indeed. to reveal that Julia is still alive and living a separated life from Ethan would be enough but the storyline gave the unnecessary emphasis by showing their exchange of smiles before Julia walked away. i mean, is there no more passionate love and longing? korang tak rindu ek laki bini?
as for the antagonists, i think the scriptwriter gave too much emphasis in making a credible action sequences and how the good guys struggle one after another slip-ups in their planning. that should explain as to why i would feel that the villains are too distant. the motivation of the major antagonist that is Cobalt in wrecking a nuclear war to help civilisation developed further is lame. i mean, what drives and motivates him so much that he'd risk his life for it?
and Moreau's character was so sullen in silence that her good looking presence doesn't have that lasting effect.
Nath, another villainous technopreneur does not seem bad. randy though he really is. the pure lust he supposedly have for Jane is blatantly missing. why? because Jane painfully looks unsure of her spell as a woman over man. what we are looking for here is a teanspoonful of confidence oozed by Miss Angelina Jolie in "the Tourist" to make us viewers really buy into the idea that Jane is so breathtakingly desirable for Nath to fall into her.
in conclusion, this movie is a definite fave and is up for another round when i'm free. yup. it's that good minus all the peeves that i've ranted earlier.
go watch this one!