IMAX Preview: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Footage

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol poster - GroupThanks to Paramount, The Reel Bits was honoured to be invited to a sneak peek at footage from the forthcoming Brad Bird film Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, due in cinemas on 15 December 2011. We were shown two scenes from the film at the IMAX cinema in Sydney. Be warned, there may be MINOR SPOILERS in the information below, but we’ve tried to keep this as spoiler free as possible.

By now you would have seen the most recent trailer and the behind-the-scenes footage, both of which make features of the scene in which Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt climbs the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. We got to see this scene in full, along with a subsequent scene in which Hunt chases down an unknown bad guy during a monster of a sandstorm.

In the first scene, Hunt and his colleagues Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and Brandt (Jeremy Renner) head out across the desert to the Burj Khalifa, on the premise of grabbing some really hard to obtain data that doesn’t really matter once we get there. The rub is that once the team arrives at the building, they discover that the only way they can crack the security computers is by scaling the tallest building in the world from the outside. It is up to Hunt to use some special tech gloves to shimmy up the eleven floors, get into the computer room and get back down again in less than 30 minutes. Did we mention that monster sandstorm coming? Cue the theme music.

Instantly noticeable is the command that director Bird and his cinematographer Robert Elswit (The Town, Salt, There Will Be Blood) have of the large format screen. While we were told that the whole film was (naturally) not shot for IMAX, the scenes we were shown seem to be have been born for this size screen.From the opening landscapes to the vertigo inducing shots of the tower, Bird’s steady direction of the scene would never betray the fact that this is his first live-action film, with animated hits The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille under his belt. The action scene itself is perfectly cut together, recalling the tension of the first Mission: Impossible film’s famous ‘hanging over a sensitive floor’ sequence. Here the stakes are a little higher, with sever hundred feet worth of splattering await one slip up. It isn’t just the setting though, but the cast around Cruise is terrific. Renner remains mysterious, as the trailers would suggest, and it is great to see Pegg’s role expanded. Indeed, he is given more one-liners and things to do in this one scene than all of Mission: Impossible 3.


We were given less context for the second scene, but little was needed: Hunt chasing down a target on foot in a sandstorm, followed by one of the most original car chases in recent history. Once again, the action fills the screen in a fluid scene that uses the mass of swirling sand to disorient the viewer. Following Hunt’s running escape from a building, we have no geography for this landscape, and all we see is the blip of the other person on the tracking device that Hunt carries. It’s the little details that make this scene work, including the quick-thinking Hunt grabbing a scarf to use as a face mask, but the real action comes when the pair get into cars. It is amazing in a year where we have seen giant robots fighting each other and airships with machine gun canons, that the simplicity of running and driving can still pack such a punch. We won’t tell you how this one ends, but it’s a corker.

These may have been two of the more sweat-inducing scenes in the film, and we will naturally wait until we have seen the full movie before we make any grand declarations on the film itself. It is early enough to say that we are liking what we’ve seen so far, and rarely have the big IMAX cameras been used to film such rapid-fire and grand scenes. Like the rest of the world, we can’t wait to see what happens when the film is released in December.

We need to thank Paramount for inviting us to this special screening, and we look forward to bringing you more on the film as it is released.

Despite its origins on the small screen, Mission: Impossible was born to be on the big screen and the IMAX footage is proof that bigger is sometimes better. Bird’s confident direction makes this vertigo inducing and disorienting in the best ways possible.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is due for release in Australia on 15 December 2011 from Paramount.