Screen went down to London’s BFI IMAX to check out some early footage of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Paramount invited press down to see clips from Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol a month before it opens. The teaser was prefaced by a short video introduction from director Brad Bird who is currently prepping the film for its mid-December release.

Despite his background in animation (Ratatouille, The Incredibles), the director proved to be on sure footing in the high octane action scenes.

The first clip was the now notorious sequence teased in every trailer and TV spot: Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) scales the world’s tallest building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, clinging onto the sheer glass facade with nothing but high-tech adhesive gloves. Cruise’s daring acrobatics, which he performed himself on location with practical stunts, make for a breathtaking, nerve-wracking experience.

That the footage was screened at BFI IMAX, Britain’s largest screen, didn’t hurt. The sprawling canvas only heightens the vertigo that Bird achieves with dizzying wide-angle aerial shots.

A fast-paced chase came next as Hunt is on pursuit of a man who carries world-threatening information. Conveniently, a sand storm follows right on their heels. Bird makes the most of Hunt’s blindness, creating an unsettling sequence that culminates in a spectacular car chase. Surprisingly, the action was more akin to that of The Bourne Ultimate than the fluid Incredibles, though Bird’s animation roots show through in the physical humour.

We were told that the last set of clips came in “literally overnight”. These introduce Jeremy Renner as a reluctant new member of the Impossible Mission Force. The amusing scenes show Renner’s character, Brandt, struggling to adjust to the team’s high-risk, improvisational methods.

The Mission: Impossible franchise has seen Ethan Hunt become increasingly well to do, dressing him in tuxedos and sending him to exotic locations to pass him off as America’s James Bond. M:I 3, however, also saw a decline in box office despite generally positive reviews. Though the gloss and globe-trekking remain in the fourth entry, Ghost Protocol looks to be a return to the original’s grounded sensibilities. Perhaps all it took was an animation director to bring the series back to reality.