Ethan Hunt and his team return in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol on December 16 and ComingSoon.net was invited recently to get a sneak peek of the action film in an IMAX theater in Los Angeles.
No doubt by now you’ve seen the teaser released months ago and the new trailer was released today (check it out below!), both offering up a glimpse of the explosive action and the razor sharp dynamic amongst Hunt (Tom Cruise reprising a role he first brought to the screen in Brian De Palma’s 1996 film Mission: Impossible), returning character Benji (Simon Pegg) and newcomers Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and Brandt (Jeremy Renner). The two sequences presented to ComingSoon.net certainly shed a bit more light on what’s to come, and furthermore, demonstrated just how skillful director Brad Bird (Iron Giant, The Incredibles) is behind the camera of his first live-action film.
Both sequences were shot for the IMAX screen and bookended what producer Bryan Burk says involves a scene in which Hunt’s team must prevent the meeting of two people which just so happens to take place at the largest building in the world: Dubai’s Burj Khalifa.
Scene one finds Hunt, Benji, Jane and Brandt en route to Burj Khalifa, strategizing their plan. They’ll need gadgets. Masks. Pegg’s Benji will also need to tap into the building’s security. But it’s easier said than done, naturally, when the team–cutting a swath of “cool” through the hotel lobby with their suits, briefcases and shades–arrives on the scene.
Benji comes to find that infiltrating the security system’s location–cutting-edge stuff situated in a room many floors above the team’s–cannot be done internally. Someone will need to physically break into the room from the outside. Patton’s Jane is out. She’s needed elsewhere. Brandt cannot perform the task either. It’s up to Hunt to scale the side of the building, carve an entry through the security room’s window and execute the mission.
Hunt has his apprehensions. You can see it on his face.
But they have the right tools for the job: A pair of gloves that can adhere to any surface Spider-Man-style. Courtesy of a light sensor, the wearer knows during his/her climb that “blue” means glue and “red” means…dead.
With the room’s window removed, offering the team and the audience a sobering at just how high above the ground we all are, Hunt begins his ascent.
The way Bird choreographs this sequence is enough to make anyone with a fear of heights squirm or, at the very least, get a case of supremely sweaty palms. And in true thriller fashion, Hunt is working against a ticking clock, so time is of the essence.
While Hunt climbs, Benji leaves to help Jane change the door numbers on a series of hotel rooms (again, to prevent someone from reaching their meeting destination). Brandt, meanwhile, watches the seconds tick away. Tick tock tick tock, goes the clock. Thump-thump-thump-thump goes the audiences’ rapidly beating hearts.
Oh, and get this, just on the outskirts of the city, a sandstorm is brewing. Moreover, one of Hunt’s gloves malfunctions forcing him to resort to another means of climbing. Hunt is assured the sand storm poses no threat to him. But, damn it, that stray, glitchy glove. That glove which–in comedic fashion–swirls in the wind alongside Hunt, stick and unsticking to the side of the building. Mocking Hunt briefly before sailing away over the city skyline – its light sensor going blue, red, blue, red… (A terrific glimpse at the humor Bird is bringing to this film.)
Ultimately, Hunt reaches his destination (breaking the window to get in is no easy feat) and executes his task, however, he now has to climb down. More hair-raising stuff, folks, let me tell you.
Hunt is able to scale his way down the building, but the tether he’s now rigged to can not reach his room, forcing him to take a giant leap in hope to make it through the open window safely. Needless to say, he succeeds, but not without a bit of trouble to set your nerves on edge.
The scene–out of context–is really magnificent. Bird is constantly keeping the camera moving, the pacing is tight, reminding the audience of the omnipresent dangers, and something is always happening. Even when the team is just sitting down, prepping for the mission, he’s intercutting with a shot of a cool
gizmo carving out a life cast of someone’s head so masks could be made. The scene represents a proper blend of the physical action we’ve come to expect from these films and the engaging “spy” work that the franchise has been built on. And the banter is clever, too; Renner adding a morsel of fun cynicism to the proceedings.
Scene two, apparently taking place many minutes later, is devoid of dialogue and pulses with action.
Hunt is on foot, chasing a target outside of the hotel. The sandstorm has now hit the city and Hunt’s pursuit isn’t going to be easy because visibility is low. Luckily, he has a GPS tracker (there’s a gadget for every scene!). His target leads Hunt through sandblasted streets, through traffic and through a marketplace.
The tracker tells Hunt his prey is doubling back – what Hunt doesn’t realize until the last moment is that this target is now mobile and Hunt is nearly run over!
Hunt jumps into his own set of wheels and the sequence now becomes a car chase through a sandstorm. Downright effective stuff.
Using his smarts, and his tracker, Hunt manages to position himself in front of his target, forcing the driver to crash his vehicle. When Hunt surveys the wreckage, of course, the driver is not in the car. Instead, he has stowed away on the back of a passing flatbed truck. Putting distance between himself and Hunt, the target removes a mask, revealing his true identity beneath.
Again, more killer stuff from director Brad Bird. Switching from a foot chase to a car chase in such a confined environment works and it’s never confusing; a scene like this could have easily gotten lost in less masterful hands.
Although apprehensive about the idea of a fourth Mission: Impossible, I’m officially on board this sequel having witnessed the early footage. The next day, I spoke with Bird about the film. Keep your eyes peeled to ComingSoon.net for that exclusive chat soon!