The Establishing Shot: Paramount shows us exclusive footage of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and my thoughts

Sunday, November 20, 2011 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

Mission Impossible Ghost ProtocolEarly on Friday I accepted the challenge and made my way to the BFI IMAX the biggest screen in the UK to see some exclusive and never before seen footage from this year's mega action blockbuster and fourth in the series Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.

I arrived at the IMAX Waterloo and was immediately directed to a lift where I overheard the security guy saying I’m sending another one up in the lift into his shirt sleeve all very hi-sec.

The Paramount made a quick introduction and let us know that we should stay on after the initial 2 clips as they had a special treat for us. And boy did they! If you have access to the internet and are a film fan you are probably aware that recently some US blogs were hand picked to see two scenes from Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and like me you possibly slightly envious. Well for us Paramount unrolled a staggering 30 minutes of footage from six clips for us to watch that have not been publicly seen before. So thank you Paramount.

As a precursor in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol – from

Blamed for the terrorist bombing of the Kremlin, IMF operative Ethan Hunt is disavowed along with the rest of the agency when the President initiates "Ghost Protocol". Left without any resources or backup, Ethan must find a way to clear his agency's name and prevent another attack. To complicate matters further, Ethan is forced to embark on this mission with a team of fellow IMF fugitives whose personal motives he does not fully know.

Video: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Trailer

My initial thoughts on the Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol footage
My initial thoughts on Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is that it is another world class production as you would expect from the team involved - both in front and behind the cameras. The composition and action are very well constructed and visually stunning. But I was somewhat divided by what I saw. Let me first say that it very well put together leaving me in no doubt with Brad Bird’s talent and that his transition from directing animated blockbusters like; Ratatouille, The Incredibles and The Iron Giant to live ACTION! films is a good thing.

Bear in mind we saw the clips out of context of the entire film but fairly early on I had to recalibrate my expectations. You see from the trailer’s subject matter, fog horn like booms, serious tone and surly faces. It seemed to me that Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol was moving back in to darker, tension fraught territory of the original Brian De Palma thriller but this quickly dispelled and it appears that Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol may actually be a little closer to the rollercoaster fun of Knight and Day style of entertainment. More in line with something that someone with Brad Bird’s background would excel at.

The actions scenes, as absolutely astounding as they were seemed a little over the top, and there also seemed to be an over reliance on gadgets the same two factors that killed the James Bond franchise for me. But given the film's 26 December opening date. I'm guessing that the target audience of  Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is families. Inversely the dialogue and chemistry between the actors particularly in the more conversation driven bits of the footage is incredibly engaging and smart.

This is what we got to see and the order we saw it in:

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Brad Bird Introduction
First a short clip from Director Brad Bird welcoming us and apologising for not being able to introduce the footage him self in person, you see he is at Skywalker Ranch editing Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol to make sure it hits the 26 December release date.

He let us know that several of the scenes were shot in IMAX format and that that had not been done on a film of this scale since The Dark Knight. And that he was quite keen for us to see what they had made.

Warning some light spoilers may rear the heads below but I have tried to avoid anything really spoiler'ish.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol footage - Clip 1: IMF Ghost Protocol task force plan an engagement
Location: Dubai

Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Dubai
We open on sweeping shots of desert with the camera moving forwards. I am immediately struck by the sheer size and impact of the full IMAX screen being used, it is MARVELLOUS. We zoom in a 4X4 on a desert motor heading towards what I assume is Dubai. At this point I was actually leaning forward so I could scan from the bottom of the screen to the top to take in the enormous screen. In the car are the disavowed IMF Ghost Protocol team made up of Ethan Hawke (Tom Cruise) driving, newcomer Jane Carter (Paula Patton) in the passenger seat, in the back are returning computer geek Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and finally Brandt (Jeremy Renner).

They are discussing the details of the next mission they are to undertake in Dubai which has to do with capturing (I think) someone that is meeting someone else. And what each of the team’s roles will be. It seems that this particular mission involves creating the illusion that the two aforementioned agents are meeting when they are not actually even in the same room. Jeremy Renner’s character seems to be the rookie trying to absorb the expository Impossible Mission and the other three are breaking it down like they are planning to meet for dinner and a movie.

The building blocks of the relationship dynamics being raised by Renner’s seemingly disbelief in the incredulous plan. And the humour released by the blasé comebacks from the rest of the team. This seems to be the precursor and set up of the next scene.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol footage - Clip 2: Ethan Hunt blows my mind on Dubai's Burj Khalifa the tallest building in the world
Location: Dubai
This is the scene that has the most buzz about it so far. Bits of it are in the trailer and clips that have been released of Tom Cruise doing is own stunts climbing around outside of the Burj Khalifa the tallest building in the world.

Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Burj Khalifa Dubai
We start off as the team arrive at the Burj Khalifa presumably leading on from the previous clip. They make their way though the foyer all Reservoir Dogs like except they are well tailored, fit and have some fashion sense. We follow the team to their suite. In their suite Ethan, Benji and Brandt are discussing the next steps. Whilst Jane is attending to another part of the mission. But then complications arise!

Benji Dunn: OK! This is a slight wrinkle; we are going to have to go into the server room from the outside.
Ethan Hunt: We?

When their original plan takes a bit of a knock and Ethan will have to access the server room from the outside of the building. During this dialogue I had to make the shift in my expectations that I mentioned before.

The team discuss various ways forward, each statement raising the tension and rationalising why it would be a good ideas for the reticent Ethan Hunt to climb outside the window of a perfectly good 96 floor hotel suite and head 7 stories up and several rooms along to the server room. Rather than unbearably tense the conversation was funny and had me chuckling with Simon Pegg playing for humour against Tom Cruise’s straight man whilst Renner seems to be acclimatising to the incredulous Impossible Mission Force play book. Once my expectations shifted from expecting doom & gloom I began to relax into this Mission Impossible world.

Around this time it dawned on Ethan Hunt that he needed to make some tough decisions quickly, and with perfect timing the strains of ''Tooomm! Toom toom toom/Tooomm! Toom toom toom.'' softly creep in. And we are away.

Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Simon Pegg & Tom Cruise Gadgets
During this scene we are introduced to various bits of hi tech gadgetry – the face replicating technology returns in a pretty snazzy portable set up, Pegg brings along some hand held lasers to cut through glass, some wierd hand held kit that scans and changes room numbers on their doors, as well as the electro glue gloves which Cruise uses to climb the windows of the Burj Khalifa. “remember blue is glue, and red? Dead.”.

This is of course all a build up to some astounding IMAX cinematography and stunt work from Tom Cruise (I still can't quite get my head around the fact he did the stunts himself) as he scales the Burj Khalifa. It is pure Hollywood and absolutely breathtaking, alone worth the price of admission. You have probably seen bits of this footage but what you have not seen yet is how magnificent it looks across the IMAX screen. I did notice that the Burj Khalifa was too tall to fit into a IMAX frame. As well as how tiny some of the buildings I recognised, looking like a child’s Lego set from the height these scene was filmed.

Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Burj Khalifa Dubai Tom Cruise stunts
Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Burj Khalifa Dubai Tom Cruise stunts
Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Burj Khalifa Dubai
The clip climaxes with a genuinely tense and cringe worthy stunt which is then dwarfed by a classic Simon Pegg one liner.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol footage - Clip 3: Ethan Hunt chases down his prey in a sandstorm
Location: Dubai
This scene must lead on from the previous set up and was mainly action fuelled chase scene with Ethan Hunt chasing down an unknown quarry, starting off in the foyer of the hotel the chase heads out through uptown Dubai, across a open area and under a concourse.

Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Chase in Dubai sandstorm Tom Cruise
I noticed a large weird shadow moving behind them which turns out to be the sandstorm engulfing Dubai. From here out the this clip takes place in the sandstorm as Ethan chases down his slippery quarry using some sort of handheld tracking device. Hunt is thwarted at every turn but in Cruise style picks himself up and gets on with the chase, which moves to a car chase upping the action ante doubling the stakes.

Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Chase in Dubai sandstorm Tom Cruise
The clip climaxes with the quarry removing his face (mask) to reveal his true identity and ends with a beautiful shot of Ethan Hunt being dwarfed by the sandstorm as it dissipates using full use of IMAX tying well into the emotion of the scene.

The screen goes dark, we wait in anticipation of what could be coming up next - it flickers back into life unfortunately no longer in full IMAX format. And Paramount unveiled a further 4 never before seen clips.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol footage - Clip 4: Ethan Hunt is given his mission and everything goes to hell
Location: Prague but it may be doubling for another country
This clip starts with bits already seen in the trailer with Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and the Secretary (Tom Wilkinson) discussing what happened with the Kremlin mission. And the fallout of the mission – the Russians are blaming the US, the entire IMF has been disavowed and the president has initiated Ghost Protocol. Hunt - a little on the back foot as his team were set up and being implicated in act of war, the Secretary - official but clearly has full faith in Hunt and Brandt seemingly new to all of this trying to get up to speed. All of this leaving Hunt out in the cold again.

Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Tom Wilkinson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Cruise
I actually felt sorry for his character at this point after all has been through, he is still getting shafted which is pretty much echoed by the Secretary. He suggests that Hunt overpowers them and escape, before offering him his mission. Which Hunt accepts. Then all hell breaks loose.

Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Tom Cruise in an example of all hell breaking loose
We follow the Sectary's SUV as it ends up in a canal underwater, while a team of black clad death squads unleash their armory on the submersed SUV. Hunt kicks into action taking control.
Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Another example of all hell breaking loose
Leading in to my favourite bit of the footage we saw on the morning.

After Hunt averts the attention of the death squad, him and Brandt escape and are discussing what just happened. Brandt trying to make sense of Hunt’s seemingly incredulous actions. This really was the best bit of the footage for me. The dynamics between Cruise’s experienced agent pulling off crazy stuff every day answering to Brandt’s rational voice of reason were off the charts. In all the rest of the footage it all seemed about actors trying to keep the incredulous and high concept activities rationalised with some realism or trying to entertain us to the point that you kind of ignore the bizarre action on screen.

But this scene albeit way too short was about two performers acting beyond the script and the push pull dynamics of Cruise’s high action first and Brandt’s more grounded and realistic world’s colliding. With Cruise positioning himself as mentor with body language, expression and delivery of dialogue. It was more about how they said it rather than what they said. Class

We then follow the duo as they make their way to a secret (meeting) location which is a moving freight train carriage. I assume turns out to be  the high tech facility that becomes the disavowed Ghost Protocol agents HQ.
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Secret disavowed IMF agent HQ
What follows is entertaining as Ethan Hunt attempts to get to grips with the reality of accessing a high security door lock on a moving train.

Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Tom Cruise & Jeremy Renner
The dynamics between Hunt & Brandt, as well as Brandt’s position throughout seemed to be laboured throughout the footage. Which got me thinking about why? Does Brandt play a larger role in the bigger scheme of things? Is the trusted mentor – student device used to heighten his betrayal at the end? Are scenarios being engineered so that we feel emotionally attached to Brandt? So that when he dies we are emotionally engaged? Is Brandt’s journey from pupil to master important to the Mission Impossible franchise? Is this all a red herring used for misdirection?  As we know from previous Mission Impossible films anything is possible. Am I reading way too much into this? Only time will tell.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol footage - Clip 5: Benji Dunn and Brandt discuss the details of an upcoming mission and Brandt’s role
Location: Unconfirmed interior shot possibly the train carriage from the previous scene.
In this clip Benji and Brandt are in the MFI high tech facility discussing the next mission. They are face to face over what looked like a remote controlled vehicle similar to the bomb disposal units in The Hurt Locker.

Brandt is trying to get to grips with the mission as well as his particular role in the engagement. It seems that he will have to make a 25 foot drop and rely on magnets to catch him. He is a little shaken by a previous episode where the technology seems to have failed so he is not overly confident. Again this was almost pure comedy with Pegg’s fast talking character delivering lines unaware of the humour as Brandt is trying to get to grips with his situation.

UPDATE: This clip is now below:

Video: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Benji Dunn and Brandt discuss the details of an upcoming mission and Brandt’s role

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol footage - Clip 6: Ghost Protocol IMF team engages in another tactile mission
Location: Unconfirmed interior shot of a stately home possibly India
This clip was about the mission discussed by Brandt and Benji in the previous clip.

All four agents are involved and each has a role as with most IMF missions. We are at a gala charity evening for Singh Technology hosted by Brij Nath (Anil Kapoor). Ethan and Jane, codename: Venus, are in the room communicating via their ear pieces, Benji is in a tunnel/cave nearby and Brandt is making his way through passageways.

Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Paula Patton & Tom Cruise
It looks like Jane/Venus’ mission is to contact and keep Brij Nath busy. Benji is in a cave/tunnel getting the roving remote vehicle ready. While Jane is luring Brij to distraction - Hunt is distracting her by overly communicating her mission.

Brandt gets to a tunnel shaft and he has to make a 25 foot drop down to a huge spinning fan below. At this point he reveals that he is wearing some sort of metal suit under his clothing (Hawkeye much?). By now I'm digging Jeremy Renner. I enjoyed him in The Hurt Locker but now he seems a lot more polished and comfortable in the less ambiguous role.

Brandt is not too keen to make the jump and Hunt is egging him on to commit. Whilst Jane has to stop Brij for using his server which has been shut down by Benji to stop/slow down the fan so that Brandt doesn’t get chopped by it when he drops down. The tension mounts.

Video: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Brandt makes a leap of faith

Brandt jumps and …Yea that’s how I felt as the clip ended. Hanging for more.

To see some exclusive footage from Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol head over to the Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Facebook page and sign up.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol release date: 26 December, 2011

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
The IMF is shut down when it's implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization's name.

Director: Brad Bird
Writers: Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, and Bruce Geller
Stars: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton

More Info over at:
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol on Facebook:
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol on Twitter:!/GhostProtocol

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The Establishing Shot: Paramount shows us exclusive footage of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and my thoughts