OK, about that skyscraper scene. The signature moment in Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, and perhaps of the entire film series up to this point, takes place about an hour into the fourth installment, which finds Tom Cruise’s super spy Ethan Hunt on the run with a group of fellow IMF operatives after being framed for a bombing at the Kremlin.
Yes, that really is one of the world’s biggest movie stars hanging close to 2,716.5 feet in the air near the top of the world’s tallest building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. (For a bit of perspective, it’s about twice the height of the Empire State Building.) It’s a pulse-pounding sequence that surely could have been created using CGI, or at the very least, a stunt double, but it was part of a commitment from Cruise and director Brad Bird to keep the action as real as possible.
Costar Simon Pegg, who returns from Mission: Impossible III as tech expert Benji, was there during the filming of that sequence, and says it was just as thrilling to watch in person.
“We were higher up than a helicopter would fly. It was scarily high, and we were only about three quarters of the way up and Tom spent like two days running around on the outside of that building,” Pegg says. “I don’t have any problem with heights, but I was like, ‘I cannot look.’ It made your stomach drop.”
While Pegg is a familiar face, Ghost Protocol features several newcomers to the franchise, including Paula Patton (Precious), who plays Jane, an IMF agent out for revenge, and Academy Award nominee Jeremy Renner (The Town) as Brandt, a seemingly timid analyst with a mysterious past. It’s a group of agents who are thrust together, not entirely sure of each other’s histories or motives, trying to survive without any help from their organization.
Like all the Mission: Impossible films, this installment has a new director, with the franchise having previously enlisted Brian De Palma, John Woo and J.J. Abrams. Animation heavyweight Brad Bird, who earned acclaim for his work on The Incredibles, Ratatouille and The Iron Giant, makes his live-action directorial debut with Ghost Protocol, and brings with him his impeccable sense of storytelling.
Any misgivings about Bird being able to make the transition were quickly quashed, Patton says.
“He is a visionary,” she says. “When you think about Ratatouille and The Incredibles and [that] he created both universes, all the characters and even some of the voices, he is a really unique individual, and impressive. He … knows exactly what he wants. All an actor wants is a director who is decisive. I heard him say, ‘In animation you have perfection and with human beings you can’t do that,’ so you just try to please him. … He would talk to us a lot about the rhythm of the dialogue, fast and slow, or the musicality of it. I never thought about it before and changed my approach as an actor for the next movie I did. He is a brilliant man.”
Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol is available starting April 17 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
© 2012 Paramount Pictures