Last week, I was invited to Washington D.C. to take part in a special press event for Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, which debuts on Blu-ray and DVD April 17. The event took place at the International Spy Museum, right in the heart of our nation's capital, which is quite an amazing facility that I highly recommend visiting if you ever find yourself within the Beltway.
Director Brad Bird was on hand for a Q&A session with the press, but first off, I got to sit down, one-on-one, with Dale Shelton, who served as a weapons consultant on the sequel. He was responsible for high-tech gadgets such as the biometrics readers, facial recognition, thermal imaging, night vision, and other devices. Check out our exclusive video, then read on to see what Brad Bird had to say about this blockbuster.
One of the highlights of this incredible action tale is star/thrill-seeker Tom Cruise actually climbing on the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, India. The filmmaker revealed they had originally wanted to achieve these breathtaking shots by using CGI, but his star insisted on getting it in camera.
"When we were first talking about it, we imagined we were going to do it mostly with special effects. Tom was determined to do it on the actual building, and then it was just about getting cooperation from the people in Dubai. I don't think there's another actor in the world who would be willing to do the stuff Tom did."
The filmmaker also talked about Tom Cruise as a producer, how he approaches the franchise much differently than any other series, and how he wanted to make it more realistic by having the gadgets fail the agents.
"One of the things that drew me to the project is that Tom, who is also a producer on it and it's really his bunch of films, wanted each film to take on the style of its director, more than having one style that we all disappear into. One of the things that attracted me was that Ethan (Hunt) didn't pick the team. The team was sort of thrust on him, and they're cut off from their main agency. It's a bunch of people forced to wing it in the field. Tom and J.J. Abrams, who produced it with Bryan Burk, asked me what kinds of things I'd like to see in a spy movie. I told him a bunch of stuff, and one of those was that the gadgets were not that dependable. They were forced to wing things, because I imagine there's a lot more of that in the field, than them working perfectly. Even though we have crazy movie gadgets, they're not completely reliable, and I think that upped the ante in the film, and makes it more fun to watch. Working with Tom was great, though. He has two settings, 400 percent and off. When he gets into it, he gives it his all. He trained very intensely, and he's very knowledgeable about the film process.
"I think everybody knows that Tom likes to do all of his own stunts, and that he takes it very seriously. I wouldn't call it an ego trip for him. He approaches it as seriously as any stuntman would. Stuntmen love Tom, because he really is one of them, in how thoroughly he researches and prepares for it. He really treats it like an Olympic sport. He trained on a representation of the Burj, a wall that was roughly the same sort of dimensions as the areas he would be traversing, and practiced on it for months before we got there. When we got there, he had a climbing expert. He approaches it as seriously as somebody could. They know he won't do something unless he is assured it can be done safely, but there's always risks. The lead stuntman on our film was named Gregg Smrz, and he says that, once you get above 50 feet, it really doesn't matter how far off the ground you are, because the result is the same. The only difference is you have much longer to think about it, if you fall. Jeremy Renner joked that you might be able to call a few friends, and talk to them."