Meanwhile, team leader ETHAN HUNT (Tom Cruise) must be extracted from a Moscow prison and the group is assigned the task of breaking into the Kremlin to retrieve information about the intended recipient of the codes; a man code-named Cobalt. Shortly thereafter, Cobalt blows their cover and, before Ethan and Benji can escape, a tremendous explosion rocks Red Square. Ethan finds himself and the entire IMF being blamed to the point that the President invokes "Ghost Protocol" - a complete dissemination of the agency.
Having inherited a new team member, WILLIAM BRANDT (Jeremy Renner), Hunt finds himself, for the first time, working with a team he did not choose. On the surface, Brandt is a desk-bound analyst, but he carries a more complicated past. Begrudgingly, Ethan and this new team must work together as one - all without any support or backup from the now-defunct IMF - if they are to clear their names, complete their mission and prevent nuclear annihilation.
Developing the plot
In developing this plot, Appelbaum recalls, "J.J. called us and asked if we could come up with a story with a way to show Ethan in a different light from the previous films. Ethan Hunt is the heart of the franchise, but they were looking for a way to tell a story that's really about him trying to lead a team, and keep the team intact, against great odds." Thus was born the concept of the Ghost Protocol, in which the entire IMF agency was being disavowed. "We thought that without having resources, it would be a great way to instantly bond Ethan to his team and to help us fall in love with these other characters. We wanted to challenge Ethan as both player and coach - a guy who's not only in it, but is in it with a team that isn't fully gelling. So, he's got to try and pull the team together, all while working on the fly."
Another caveat unique to this film is they are also stripped of their usual support - no resources, no extractions, no backup. "In the world of technology and information that we live in, we wanted to strip the agents of their ability to rely on immediate intel and access. We wanted the gadgets that they use to not always be working properly. To not necessarily make their jobs easier," says Nemec. Ethan's Gecko Gloves, which he uses to climb the outside of a building, and the otherwise-indispensible mask making machine both fail the team when most needed. Adds Appelbaum, "It's the idea that everything in life doesn't go off exactly like planned and we wanted that to be true for our agents, as well. They couldn't rely on their agency, they couldn't always rely on the tools and gadgets and tricks that they had. They really had to rely on themselves. This movie isn't about unlimited firepower. These people are smart in their intuition and their training, in really clever and inventive ways."
The producers even encouraged Bird to incorporate his own ideas about what makes a spy movie cool. "When I first got involved, they said, 'Well, we have this story line but, other than that, are there any cool things you've always wanted to see in a spy movie?' It was like looking at it from a moviegoer level, in terms of what kinds of things you'd want to see if you were sitting in the audience watching this." Things such as Brandt's Eyecam lens (a contact lens which functions as a video display), throwing off a meet-and-swap meeting with Moreau, a sandstorm chase and, after Ethan retrieves his mission assignment from a payphone, which "will self-destruct in five seconds" - but doesn't, at least not without a swift kick from Mr. Hunt, all came from Bird. "He really brought that constant sense that the mission plan is not 100% working." says Nemec. "Brad was able to look at things with a little bit of a 'fun' lens, which we loved."
Complicating matters is the team members' knowledge of Ethan's reputation within the agency. "Part of starting off with finding him imprisoned is wanting to play into a character that isn't necessarily coming into this with a bunch of medals on his chest. The team isn't going, 'Of course I'll follow that guy into battle!' It's more like, 'Well, that guy did something that earned him being imprisoned.' So, they're always wondering if he's making the right calls along the way."
The producers also wished to create a film that, though part of a series franchise, could stand alone, story-wise, so that audiences didn't have to be familiar with what had gone on in the previous MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE movies to enjoy or follow GHOST PROTOCOL. "We made a conscious effort to make it so if you had never seen the other films, it didn't matter," Burk explains. "You could watch this film and easily follow the story and understand Ethan's backstory and where he is because the movie is completely self-contained. And, if you have seen the previous films, then you'll be able to draw more from it."
Building the team
"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." Read more
Travelling the international globe
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL is an action-packed thrill ride, filled with mind-boggling stunts, rich characters, the coolest gadgets and stunning locations. Filmed over a five month period from October 2010 to March 2011, production took the film from Los Angeles to Moscow, Prague, Dubai, Mumbai, and Vancouver.Read more
The Burj Khalifa
Located in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is visually striking. "It's cinematic from the get-go," notes Bird. "A lot of the architecture is very imaginative and seems so futuristic. The fact that it's surrounded by desert is such a surreal sight because it's just dunes and flatness, and then there's this city rising up like Oz." The city had never truly been photographed for a motion picture portraying itself before. Filmmakers had not yet taken advantage of the vertical scale of the Dubai until GHOST PROTOCOL. .Read more
Stunting for action
In another action packed scene, Ethan slips out of a fourth-story window and, while Russian operatives wait for him to give up, grabs his belt, leaps from the building ledge, slides down a nearby power line to the roof of a moving van and rolls off safely onto the street. "That was actually one of the most challenging stunts of the whole movie, as far as difficulty goes," says stunt coordinator Gregg Smrz. "We rehearsed that on stage over and over and over, until it was just old hat, and then went and put it into place. Tom nailed it in just a few takes." Read more
About the gadgets
"These movies are a prop master's dream come true," says property master Kristopher E. Peck, who held the same position on MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II. One of the biggest gadgets, the IMF train, is one of Bird's favorite sets. Designed by Jim Bissell and built on a soundstage in Vancouver, the set appears bombproof inside. "It's oval-shaped and designed to look like it's prepared to take a huge concussive shock, and be a good command center for any situation. It's just loaded with all the special gadgets they could need." says Bird. "It was full of all sorts of gimmicks," Bissell explains. "Sliding trays for weapons, televisions that you pulled out of the wall and then slid down with hydraulic stands that pop up and allow you to swivel them anywhere you wanted to." Read more
The art of sequels