Secret Agent Man

This month we feature the 4th installment of the Mission Impossible franchise, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Tom Cruise returns in the starring role as Ethan Hunt and is joined by an international cast that includes Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Vladimir Mashkov, Josh Holloway, Anil Kapoor and Léa Seydoux. 

(left to right) Jeffrey Chernov, executive producer, Jeremy Renner, Brad Bird (director), Tom Cruise, Paula Patton and Bryan Burk, producer addressing a press conference in Dubai, UAE

Meet Team Ghost Protocol

ETHAN HUNT (Tom Cruise) must evolve as an agent, going from lone wolf to a true team leader. “Ethan has really relied on himself in the previous three movies, but in this movie he has to rely on others.  It’s a great challenge for him because he’s been betrayed so many times by team members and his organization and now he has no choice but to trust these three people whom he hardly knows.”

AGENT JANE CARTER (Paula Patton) “is a badass” says Director Brad Bird  Though she has yet had a lot of experience as a field agent, she is driven by something besides her desire to complete the mission: revenge. “She’s enormously talented, very charismatic and really took the physicality the role required head-on,” Cruise notes. 

Returning from MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III is the team’s technical wizard, BENJI DUNN (Simon Pegg), who has graduated to field agent.  Pegg describes the character as “the ultimate I.T. guy.  He’s the computer guy who just knows everything about everything.”  Pegg brings a great amount of wit and humor to his character, which is unique to this film in a franchise that is known for its intense, action packed sequences.

AGENT WILLIAM BRANDT (Jeremy Renner) gives Ethan another agent to be squaring off with through the course of the movie and that’s something that hadn’t been done before.” The character had immediate appeal to Renner.  “Brandt is an analyst, a seemingly tight-wound desk guy who is smart as a whip, and that’s his job.  He’s not very emotional about things.  Then, you slowly start to see the revealing of who he really is – particularly through seeing this physical skill set you would not expect out of a tight, blue shirt-wearing analyst.  He doesn’t really want to be part of the team, but circumstances force him to join the group,” says Renner.

Breaking boundaries for Number 4

 “I loved the show when I was a kid,” says Cruise.  “I felt that, as a film, it could take us to different locations, have pulse-racing action sequences and smart, innovative tech.  It was the first film I ever produced.  As a filmmaker and as an actor, I’m always thinking about the audience.  I want to entertain them and give them a new adventure every time.”

The last film, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III, was directed by J.J. Abrams who returns as a producer on MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL.   “I like to work with people who I admire, like J.J., who are really smart and talented.  I really loved the television work he had done, particularly with ‘Alias,’ and I wanted him to make his first movie with me.  We had an amazing time on M:I 3 and I love J.J., so to work with him again on this would mean we’d get to have some fun together and create another amazing movie.”

Bryan Burk, Jeremy Renner,  Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Brad Bird and Jeffrey Chernov pose for photographs at a photocall for Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol in Dubai, UAE

To write the new film, Abrams brought in two of his collaborators from his popular television show, “Alias,” Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec, who had worked on that series for three years.  “When Tom approached us about doing this film, they immediately came to mind,” says Abrams’ producing partner Bryan Burk.  “We know their ability to work in this genre, to craft interesting and unique stories in the espionage world and to create really big set pieces.  They know how to bring the characters to life and make them rich.”

The Stunt to watch out for

The producers had suggested using the Burj Khalifa for something to the writers, Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec.  “It’s one of the first things you look at,” says Bird.  “It’s this gleaming, really quite beautiful building that sticks up like a needle touching space.”  The Burj had also been on Tom Cruise’s radar who had seen the structure under construction.  “I’m always looking at different structures, thinking, ‘How can I climb that?  How can I jump out of that?’” he says.

Recalls Nemec, “We were talking about the building sequence and we thought, ‘What’s the scariest, most bad-ass thing we could imagine?’  Well, the answer was, ‘Let’s make him climb the outside of that building, in the interest of keeping the mission alive.’  Tom loved the idea.”  In the film, Ethan must climb the exterior of the Burj – the tallest building in the world, topping out at 2,716.5 feet (828 meters) to reach an upper floor security control area without being detected.

The building, which has three uses – a hotel, corporate suites and condominium residences – was scouted several times by stunt coordinator Gregg Smrz and his team who bravely examined the structure’s exterior themselves to figure out how to safely get Cruise out on the outside of the building for the various stunts called for in the script.  The production team began planning the obvious way to implement the scene:  build a set on a soundstage representing a piece of the building, and have Cruise climb that, under controlled conditions.  “We were going to build this set, have Ethan climb it, and then digitally extend all the shots to show the rest of the building,” explains Visual Effects Producer Tom C. Peitzman.  “We sat around in meetings, went through previz and storyboards and spent lots of time designing all these shots.  Then we sat down with Tom and, of course, he wanted to climb the real building.  That put a whole new spin on things.”

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol opens in cinemas 15 Dec

Photos and notes courtesy of United International Pictures Singapore

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