If we’re honest, J.J. Abrams’s Mission: Impossible III looked like it might be a farewell note from Ethan Hunt and the good folk of IMF. But then the new trailer for Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol slammed down and that note self-destructed with a mighty ‘kaboom’. Put simply, it looks a-w-e-s-o-m-e. It’s everything you want from an M:I trailer: Tom Cruise throwing himself off of tall buildings, covert capers, things blowing up, double and triple crosses, and bonus Simon Pegg. Looks like a win to us. Here’s how it breaks down...
Cruise is back for more tip-top secret spy business as Ethan Hunt, leader of the shadowy Impossible Missions Force – or ‘IMF’ if you’re into the whole brevity thing. When we meet him he’s looking a lot like the wrong man in the wrong place. The trailer opens – establishing shot! - to find him in Moscow’s Red Square. Judging by some leaked on-set pics, his infiltration of Moscow’s tower of power involves disguising himself as a Russian soldier. Although he’s not one of these, unless he’s even better at disguises than we thought.
There he is! And blimey, if it isn’t the Kremlin, the great palace of the Tsars and cradle of communism. Wait... start again. Blimey, if it wasn’t the Kremlin, great palace of the Tsars, etc. Now, thanks to a terrorist strike in which Hunt and co. have just been implicated, it’s a giant pile of red rubble. Judging by this footage, Brad Bird is not just a wise owl of Pixar; he can also blow up major world landmarks with the best of ‘em. Obviously, despite this being his live-action debut, he's not a complete stranger to making things go ‘boom’. Metroville had a couple of narrow squeaks in The Incredibles, the US army tried to explodify the Iron Giant on more than one occasion and there was that, erm, Crêpe Suzette in Ratatouille… okay, Ratatouille, not so much.
Here’s Tom Wilkinson as the boss man – what we like to call the ‘suspicious Jon Voight figure’ – letting Hunt know that things ain’t looking too clever for IMF. The Kremlin bombing has been pinned on them and the President has issued ‘Ghost Protocol’, basically a giant game of ‘it’ for spies in which the IMF are on one team and everyone else in the world is on the other. No wonder Hunt and his cohort Brandt (Jeremy Renner) look worried. The prize for losing does not involve being hit with soft cushions. Wilkinson is rapidly becoming Hollywood’s go-to Man In A Suit Who Says Important Things. And why not. He’s marvellous.
Here’s why they’re worried. The government has ‘disavowed’ Hunt and his whole team, including Trevor Hanaway (Lost’s Josh Holloway). This, we think, is M:I 4 speak for ‘terminate with extreme prejudice’ rather than ‘refuse to chat to them at drinks parties’.
Having a friend on the inside is always handy. Some cunning doublespeak from Wilkinson’s G-man and Hunt is away, kicking some substantial ass en route. His ability to shapeshift and blend in, meanwhile, is looking a little Marcus Brody-like here. Come on Ethan, pulling your hood over your head isn’t going to fool anyone. You still look like a spy. Now you look like a spy with an ASBO.
With the threat of a nuclear terrorism charge hanging over them, Hunt puts the team back together for one of IMF’s regular ‘oh shit’ catch-up meetings. There’s Precious’ Paula Patton as Jane Carter and Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn. And there’s Renner’s Brandt again. He’s a possible shoe-stepper-inner when Cruise retires, if rumours are to be believed. We’re not sure they are yet, but, hey, this is Mission: Impossible. Rumours are just facts with a stick-on beard.
It’s Simon Pegg! In shades, looking cool and carrying bags, possibly full of guns and laptops and things! It’s a long way from 23 Meteor Street. 3400 miles, to be exact. He's in Dubai, as the team try to stay alive, find the people who’ve set them up and possibly squeeze in some shopping and indoor skiing into the bargain. As a nice piece of geek symmetry, Pegg isn’t the first actor to have worked on the M:I and Star Trek franchises. The original Mission: Impossible TV series shared a Paramount sound stage with Star Trek and Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy, appeared as the show’s suitably mystical spy Emil Vautrain.
Cue the big shiny computers! Cue the hologrammatic digital readouts! Cue the complex techie-looking stuff that we love about Mission: Impossible even if we don’t know what it does! Cue Eminem! The IMF boys and girl prepare to put the hammer down, while Marshall Mathers’ ‘Won’t Back Down’ booms some big-lunged songstress Pink at us. Strap yourselves in, people. Here we go…
Step 1: the cunning plan involving a car, a statuesque lady spy and a Michael Bay-homaging exit from a sports car. Referencing Maggie Q in M:I:iii, Brad Bird shows he knows his way around franchise forebears. He’s the fourth director in the franchise after Brian De Palma (ace), John Woo (fun but patchy) and Abrams (ditto), and doffs his illustrious cap to his predecessors. Look out for that flowing-bonce-in-the-wind shot - thanks Mission: Impossible II - coming up.
Hey up... who’s this? Is it Josh Holloway’s Hanaway? Could he be having a one-man traitor party? Well, it wouldn’t be a Mission: Impossible movie if at least one of the team isn’t working for the other team - they really need to look at their recruitment policy over at the IMF HR department – and the smart money is on it not being Ethan. Plus, we’re staring down the barrel of a menacing villain cheekbone glower here, albeit a menacing villain cheekbone glower that's also quite smouldery. But is it all too obvious?
Here’s another one of those franchise nods. Renner goes all abseil-y as he zooms towards something that looks a lot like the business end of a Death Star garbage compactor. This mission is looking a lot like the impossibliest yet. The frenzied editing doesn’t linger long on any McGuffins but there’s diamonds, lots of aggressive men in suits, car crashes, underwater shenanigans, more men in suits, this time with machine guns, and a big old briefcase with secret stuff in. Sorry we can’t be more specific, but it’s all classified. And by ‘classified’, we mean ‘awesome’.
Now here’s a sight you don’t see every day. It’s Peggatron unleashing a little ‘greater good’ on wrongdoers. The Pegg for Bond campaign starts here.
We know Mission: Impossible can be all twisty and turny but surely the genre's newest dream team – the Batman and Robin of covert ops and cunning disguises - aren’t going to shot each other? Are they? Well, no, but they are going to tussle and eye each other suspiciously and then Brandt is going to reveal that he knows rather more about Hunt than Hunt knows about him. But then he doesn’t know as much about Hunt as Hunt knows about Hunt, so that’s something. Anyways, ahem, let’s move on…
Ghost Protocol has taken Bird, Cruise and co. to some typically glorious spots around the world, including Moscow, Prague and India. Expect plenty of the black-tie sneakiness we’ve enjoyed in earlier instalments (and the CBS series). Expect this dude, too. He looks a lot like Vladimir Mashkov playing a Russian agent. We assume he's peeved by the whole Kremlin-explosion-thing and is hunting down Hunt and his team. What with the smoshed-in face, it doesn’t look like it’s going that well for him at this point, but Mashkov played a Serbian sniper in Behind Enemy Lines so we know he can at least shoot straight.
If you’ve just joined us, you’re in time for the comic relief bit. Hunt and Dunn admire a snazzy pair of spy gloves that even Desmond Llewelyn would be proud of. The blue/red issue is worrying, though. Why the team's resident boffin invented sticky gloves with a limited battery life is beyond us. Though not as beyond us as that Pegg shirt-and-tie combo. Looks like IMF has some shopping to do after all.
If you’ve watched one of those videos on The IMDb lately, you’ll know that in Dubai “opportunities abound”. Like the opportunity to throw yourself off a ginormous building. Welcome to the Burj Khalifa, 160 stories of death-defying craziness, and all the excuse Hunt needs to switch on the blue gloves and climb about in the pursuit of justice and exoneration. Unless he’s there to clean the windows.
He’s not there to clean the windows! Look, there’s no squeegee. Also, he’s throwing himself through 800 metres of thin air. There’s that. It’s all executed with the customary wry Cruise patter (“You’re not going to make it!”, “You’re not helping”), and looks like a knuckle-whitening moment to match M:I2’s cliffhanging and that bit with the building in Mission: Impossible. Colour us stoked. And just for those folk with very short attention spans who need a reminder of what they’re watching, here’s a burst of Lalo Schifrin’s classic 'Mission: Impossible' theme, albeit rocked up considerably. This mission just got more impossibler.