Paramount screened two sequences of Imax footage from the upcoming Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol last week. The scenes show not only how effective Imax is when the standard movie frame opens up, but some just plain well done action scenes in any movie.
First, take a look at the all new trailer for Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (via Yahoo Trailers).
Plot-wise, the footage doesn’t spoil anything. The gang – Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton and Simon Pegg – go on a dangerous mission. Could be any mission in any plot, though the group dynamic is that they have to explain their standard operating procedure to Renner’s newbie character, and thus first timers in the audience.
Aesthetically, seeing them drive through the Imax desert with life sized camels in the road has a major impact as they approach Dubai with the Burj Khalifa on the horizon. The camera is able to sweep to the top of the world’s tallest building and point straight down, in full frame Imax.
The sequence goes letterboxed for the exposition. They’re going to intercept a meeting, have Patton’s character double the woman in one room and one of the boys’ double the man in another room. The terrorists will never know they didn’t actually meet each other. Only problem is, to control the elevator, Ethan Hunt (Cruise) has to climb up the 130th floor from the outside to hack into the hardwires.
The most beautiful part of this sequence is that when Hunt steps out of the window, the frame slowly opens up to the full Imax, rather than just cutting. That’s the next level of using large format. You don’t just cut to it, you blend it in. There are lots of straight down shots to emphasize how high up Cruise really is. The shine of the windows and metal on the Burj Khalifa are really distinct in Imax.
I think you can kind of see the lift where the safety harness is digitally erased, but maybe I’m just being a dick. It’s no slam against Cruise or any stuntman. I want them to use harnesses. I just like the artifact of the collar being pulled by an invisible harness.
So you’ve seen the sticky gloves in the trailers already. This is a brilliant concept for an action scene. They’ve laid the rules, so now every time Hunt has to wait a few seconds for a glove to stick, it’s instant suspense. Of course one of the gloves starts glitching, he slips and you feel the full distance of his fall in Imax. Ultimately he climbs the rest of the way one handed like a badass.
The kicker to this scene is the descent, which has become a trademark of the Mission: Impossible film series. In this case Hunt creates a makeshift rappelling wire and runs straight down the world’s tallest building. Director Brad Bird finds more moments of near misses and suspense at every component of the sequence. Pegg caps off the most dangerous stunt with some comic relief. Incidentally, all of his techie hacking scenes are in full frame Imax too.
Now the second sequence they showed is the most cinematic combination of elements in Imax. It’s a foot and car chase during a sandstorm. Not only do you have the elements on the ground and in the vehicles, but you’re partially blind watching it. Hunt can see more than we can because he makeshifts some goggles and breathing scarves he pulls from the market he’s running through.
We all know Tom Cruise has the best run in Hollywood. You haven’t seen him run until you see him run in Imax. The only thing that could make Tom Cruise running more intense is a seven story high Tom Cruise running in your face, straight into camera.
When the sand overtakes the action, you can see all the big Imax film grains highlighted against the dark background. For film lovers, you’ll really dig this unique look at the celluloid process.
But this sequence will be brilliant in regular theaters too. It uses the geography of the Dubai market for some close calls and near misses with Hunt and the car. Hunt dodges a flipping car, as he often does in these movies.
During the sequences, Hunt rips off a piece of a mask from the person he’s chasing, and at the end of the sequences the man underneath is revealed. When I know who that guy is in the rest of the movie, I bet I’ll be really surprised.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol opens December 16 in Imax and Dec. 21 in regular theaters.