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Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol IMAX preview

Brad Bird’s face looks massive, but then again, so does everything on the BFI IMAX. The Pixar director turned Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol mastermind has gathered a group of journo types here today to introduce a selection of exclusive scenes to whet the appetite. A sizzle reel, if you will, and they do indeed sizzle.

During Bird’s brief appearance he explains that we’ll see two sequences each shot in eye-dazzling IMAX. Special stuff considering that Ghost Protocol is the only film to shoot using this brand-spanking new technology since Nolan took to the streets of Gotham with The Dark Knight. And we don’t need reminding how effective (and just plain cool) that was. If that wasn’t enough we’re also treated to some last minute non-IMAX sequences that have just arrived overnight.

The first sequence throws us straight into the action. After the IMF is falsely linked to a plot to blow up the Kremlin, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team are forced to go rogue and work off the grid. We find them in the Middle East, hiding out in a fancy sky-rise hotel, hundreds of feet up. They’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of a mysterious woman when they stumble upon a flaw in their meticulously thought-out plan. A flaw that involves someone travelling up a few floors up without being seen. Cue that classic Mission Impossible theme…

Using a pair of Spiderman-like sticky-fingered gloves, Ethan begins to scale the building like a human-frog. Scenes like this were made for IMAX and Bird knows it. He dangles us, swings us around and tilts us precariously over the void. We’re with Ethan every nail-biting step of the way whether we like it or not – the only thing we don’t feel is the wind in our hair. It’s an experience that can only be likened to watching the scene play out live from the passenger seat of a helicopter. What do they say about not looking down? Don’t be surprised if you get a touch of vertigo as Bird puts this giant screen to work.

We stay in total immersion mode for IMAX scene number two: an action packed street chase during a raging sandstorm. Watching Hunt race after his mysterious target on foot and then on wheels is impressive, but it’s the ever present, swirling sandstorm that benefits most from this lush high definition. You’ll be squinting through fictional sand as this orange haze sweeps over the screen.

Drool-inducing visuals aside, Bird appears to have pumped the franchise with a whole load of fun. Every scene we were shown was gifted with the perfect mix of action and humour; after all, this is the same guy who helmed The Incredibles so he’s familiar with the format. Gadget-guy Benji Munn (Simon Pegg) provides ample laughs, especially during his back-and-forths with newcomer Brandt (Jeremy Renner). One scene in particular where they discuss a complex and dangerous plan causing Brandt’s stress levels to go through the roof will certainly bring a smile to your face. He’s also a bit of a realist, which provides a nice counterpoint to Ethan’s shoot from the hip action man status.

After a gun-toting underwater action sequence where the duo make a narrow escape, Brandt begins to pick apart Ethan’s unrealistic maneuvers that earned them their freedom. He’s fully aware of the implausible nature of what just happened, and his reaction to it adds a nice and humorous counterbalance to all the guns and explosions. Soon the lights come back on and everyone leaves the giant auditorium pleasantly surprised. From the looks of it, Ghost Protocol is an impossible mission we’d be glad to accept.

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