Watch the new trailer plus our thoughts after seeing 15 minutes of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol!
Coinciding with the new trailer released today i'll be offering my two cents on a sneak peak I attended last week where I had the good fortune to check out about 20 minutes of GHOST PROTOCOL. Normally holding such an event for the press and only showing twenty minutes of a movie would be a bit of a gamble for a studio but dear friends... these twenty minutes were of the IMAX variety, and of course by IMAX I mean natively shot IMAX, not your father's 35mm-blown-up-to-65mm-and-call-it-IMAX IMAX.
Like THE DARK KNIGHT, Brad Bird and his production team (including the amazing D.P. Robert Elswit) decided to pull a Nolan and shoot about half an hour of GHOST PROTOCOL with IMAX cameras and in a word what I saw was STUNNING. Check out the trailer below then we'll talk footage on the other side...
Slight spoilers ahead
We were shown two full action sequences, both hinted at in the trailer. The first involved the team infiltrating Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world in Dubai, the second was a chase scene taking place during a sandstorm a little after the events of the first scene.
The set up for the money shot in the movie, Ethan climbing the Burj Khalifa is this: Ethan and his team are now rouge from the IMF after terrorist blow up the Kremlin and IMS is suspect with some sort of involvement. Somehow it leads up to the team needing to intercept a meeting between Michael Nyqvist's (from THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO) character and another suspected terrorist. They plan on using the little equipment they have (including the token Mission Impossible masks) to separate the terrorists into two separate meeting, making each believe they are actually talking to the other, when of course, they would be talking to one of the rouge IMF agents in masks.
Sounds simple right? Problem is the meeting is somewhere in the tallest building in the world... After Jeremy Renner makes a crack at how ludicrous this mission is (I guess he thought he signed up with the Mission: "That's feasible" Squad), Simon Pegg realizes that the meet is on the 100th-something floor and the buildings security is military grade. Stuck half way to go in an office and with twenty minutes before the meet is set, Ethan makes an executive decision... climbing up from the outside is the only way to go.
Now it gets good. The screen expands to a gargantuan size and the first shot is particularly impressive. Because we know Tom Cruise did all of his own stunts, we literally see him as he slowly walks out the window, looks down and finds a grip with his "sticky gloves" (that are low on juice) while the camera slowly pans up above his head. I have never gotten vertigo in a theater before this... but i was seriously clenching the armrests to keep from falling into the screen. This is the kind of immersion 3D could only dream about.
What surprised me with the entire set piece is how damn impressive it still is with its simplicity, both in composition and concept. Brad Bird utilizes the camera with elegant wide shots and long takes. Michael Giachinno's music is lively and fun, the whole tone had an adventurous feel to it that actually felt more in line with classic Indiana Jones and the M:I TV series than the previous films. After climbing a few stories he notices a sandstorm approaching on the horizon. If that wasn't enough, after climbing a bit more one of his sticky gloves looses power so he tosses it, watching the glove fly upward- another great touch that just gave me chills knowing how far up in the atmosphere we are. In a classic Brad Bird comedic touch, the glove finds its way on the side of the building and sticks to the glass in front of Ethan, right out of arms reach and apparently working again of course.
In an unexpected turn Ethan needs to get out of the dodge quickly and races downward with only a rope that's not even attached to him. He comes about three stories short of the floor his team is. In a swift and graceful move he runs back and forth to propel a jump and fails! Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton have to grab him. Seeing Tom actually do this is electrifying. Knowing that the man himself is doing this all without a stunt double is the icing to the cake. The lack of a stunt double gave me that same additional thrill as watching Zoe Bell in DEATH PROOF. On top of that icing, we get the benefit of IMAX... I cannot champion this true IMAX experience enough. It sucked me in completely.
The second scene involves Tom chasing Michael Nyqvist (disguised in a MI mask as someone else) running from the Burj Khalifa with that sandstorm swallowing them both whole. To be honest, Brad Bird is setting himself up to fail. Not only is his first live-action chase scene done in IMAX but during a sandstorm? Geography has always been an issue for me when it comes to action scenes, if i don't know where people are in relation to one another due to excessive cuts and the lack of master shots, the intended suspense goes right out the door. Luckily, every shot of Tom and Michael running through oncoming traffic and local markets is clearly realized, even while they are engulfed in sand. I imagine Bird's experience with extensive storyboarding came into great use here as there isn't a shot that isn't vital. The music and the editing kept the adrenalin up and the scene was a blast. It actually reminded me a bit of the multiplayer map Desert Village in UNCHARTED 3, which also obscures the action with a sandstorm. The foot chase turns into a car chase, where Ethan flanks the terrorist and collides into him head on.
I've always been a fan of the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE series and Brad Bird looks like he could carve in the best of the bunch judging from these IMAX sequences alone. If you were even considering checking out the film in IMAX for THE DARK KNIGHT RISES prologue, you will definitely not regret sticking it out for GHOST PROTOCOL. I really hope more studios invest in IMAX, It'd get my ass in the seat for anything.
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