Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

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Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
Mission impossible ghost protocol.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Brad Bird
Produced by
Written by
Based on Mission: Impossible 
by Bruce Geller
Music by Michael Giacchino
Cinematography Robert Elswit
Edited by Paul Hirsch
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
Running time
133 minutes[1]
  • United States
  • English
Budget $145 million[2]
Box office $694.7 million[2]

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a 2011 American action spy thriller film and the fourth installment in the Mission: Impossible series, and director Brad Bird's first live-action film.[3] It stars Tom Cruise, who reprises his role of IMF Agent Ethan Hunt, with Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, and Paula Patton as his supporting team. Ghost Protocol was written by André Nemec and Josh Appelbaum, and produced by Cruise, J. J. Abrams (the third film's director) and Bryan Burk. It saw the return of editor Paul Hirsch and visual effects supervisor John Knoll from the first film, and is also the first Mission: Impossible film to be partially filmed using IMAX cameras. The film was released in North America by Paramount Pictures on December 16, 2011. The film was preceded by Mission: Impossible III (2006) and followed by Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015).

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol became the highest-grossing Mission: Impossible film,[4] and the highest-grossing film starring Cruise.[5][6][7]


In Budapest to intercept a courier working for an individual code-named "Cobalt", IMF agent Trevor Hanaway is killed by assassin Sabine Moreau. Hanaway's team leader, Jane Carter, and newly promoted field agent Benji Dunn extract Ethan Hunt and his source, Bogdan, from a Moscow prison. Ethan is recruited to lead Jane and Benji to infiltrate secret Moscow Kremlin archives and locate files identifying Cobalt. During the mission, someone broadcasts across the IMF frequency, alerting the Russians to Ethan's team. Although Benji and Jane escape, a bomb destroys the Kremlin and SVR agent Anatoly Sidorov arrests Ethan, suspecting him as a key player in the attack.

The IMF Secretary extracts Ethan from Moscow and informs him that the Russians have called the attack an undeclared act of war, forcing the U.S. President to initiate "Ghost Protocol", a black operation contingency that disavows the IMF. Ethan and his team are to take the blame for the attack, but will be allowed to escape from government custody in order to track down Cobalt. Before Ethan can escape, the Secretary is killed by Russian security forces led by Sidorov, leaving Hunt and intelligence analyst William Brandt to find their own way out. Brandt identifies Cobalt as Kurt Hendricks, a Swedish-born Russian nuclear strategist[8] who plans to start a nuclear war. Hendricks bombed the Kremlin in order to acquire a Russian nuclear launch-control device; however, he now needs the activation codes from the Budapest courier in order to launch nuclear missiles at the United States.

The exchange between Moreau and Hendricks' right-hand man, Wistrom, is due to take place in the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. There, Ethan's team separately convince Moreau and Wistrom that they have made the exchange with one another. However, Moreau identifies Brandt as an agent and alerts Wistrom. While Ethan chases him—only to realize that Wistrom is actually Hendricks in disguise, allowing him to escape with the codes—Jane detains Moreau. Moreau attempts to kill Benji, and Jane kicks her out a window to her death. Brandt accuses Jane of compromising the mission for revenge against Moreau, but Ethan accuses Brandt of keeping secrets from them, as he has demonstrated skills decidedly atypical of a mere analyst. While Ethan seeks more information from Bogdan, Brandt confides to Benji and Jane that he was assigned as a security detail to Ethan and his wife Julia while they were on vacation in Croatia. While Brandt was on patrol, Julia was killed by a Serbian hit squad, prompting Ethan to pursue and kill them before he was caught by the Russians and sent to prison.

Bogdan and his arms-dealer cousin inform Ethan that Hendricks will be in Mumbai to facilitate the sale of a defunct Soviet military satellite to Indian telecommunications entrepreneur Brij Nath. The satellite could then be used to transmit the launch codes for nuclear-tipped missiles. While Brandt and Benji infiltrate the server room to deactivate the satellite, Carter gets Nath to reveal the satellite override code. But Hendricks has anticipated Ethan's plan and infects Nath's servers with a virus before sending a signal from a television broadcasting tower to a Russian Delta III-class nuclear submarine in the Pacific to fire at San Francisco. Ethan pursues Hendricks and the launch device while the other team-members attempt to bring the broadcast station back online. Ethan and Hendricks fight over the launch-control device before Hendricks jumps to his death with it to ensure success. Benji kills Wistrom, allowing Brandt to restore power to the station and enabling Ethan to deactivate the missile, while the fatally wounded Hendricks witnesses the failure of his plan as he dies. Sidorov happens upon the scene in time to see what Ethan has done and realizes that the IMF is innocent of bombing the Kremlin.

The team reconvenes weeks later in Seattle with Ethan meeting up with Luther Stickell and accepting a new mission. Brandt refuses at first and confesses to Ethan about being assigned to protect Julia and failing. However, once Ethan reveals that both Julia's death and the murder of Serbians were actually faked in order to infiltrate the Moscow prison while protecting Julia, a relieved Brandt accepts the mission. Julia, alive, smiles at Ethan from far away.



Despite Mission: Impossible III earning less than its predecessors at the box office, Paramount Pictures was keen on developing a fourth film.[13] In August 2009, Josh Applebaum and André Nemec were hired to write the film's screenplay.[14] Because of other commitments, J. J. Abrams said that it was unlikely for him to return as director but made note that he will produce the film alongside Tom Cruise.[15] By March 2010, director Brad Bird was in talks of directing the film with Cruise officially returning to star as Ethan Hunt.[16]

The film was originally announced with a working name of Mission: Impossible 4 and code-named "Aries" during early production.[17] By August 2010, title considerations did not include the Mission: Impossible 4 name, and thought was given to omitting the specific term "Mission: Impossible", which Variety compared to Christopher Nolan's Batman sequel film The Dark Knight.[18] In late October 2010, however, the title was confirmed as Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.[19]


The film was partially shot with IMAX cameras, which made up approximately 30 minutes of the film's run time.[20][21] Bird insisted that certain scenes of the film be shot in IMAX, as opposed to 3D, as he felt that the IMAX format offered the viewer more immersion due to its brighter, higher quality image, which is projected on a larger screen, without the need for specialised glasses.[22] Bird also believed that the IMAX format would bring back "a level of showmanship" to the presentation of Hollywood films, which he believes the industry has lost due to its emphasis on screening films in multiplexes as opposed to grand theaters, and vetoing "first runs" in favor of wider initial releases.[22]

"When we were first looking at the image of Tom climbing the Burj, in the long shots we could not only see the traffic in the reflections when he presses down on the glass... But you actually saw the glass warp slightly because of the pressure of his hand. You would never see that in 35mm. The fact that the screen fills your vision and is super sharp seems more life-like."
 —Brad Bird describing the advantages of filming in the IMAX format.[23]

Principal photography took place from October 2010 to March 2011.[24] Filming took place in Mumbai, Prague, Moscow, Vancouver, Bangalore, and Dubai.[25][26][27] Tom Cruise performed a sequence where Ethan Hunt scales the outside of the Burj Khalifa tower, which is the world's tallest building, without the use of a stunt double.[28] Although Cruise appears to be free solo climbing in the film with the help of special gloves, in reality, he was securely attached to the Burj Khalifa at all times by multiple cables.[24] Industrial Light & Magic digitally erased the cables in post-production. Following Cruise's example, Patton and Seydoux also chose to forgo the use of stunt doubles for their fight scene at the Burj Khalifa where Carter exacts her revenge upon Moreau for Hanaway's death.[24]

Many of the film's interior scenes were shot at Vancouver's Canadian Motion Picture Park, including a key transition scene in a specially equipped IMF train car and the fight between Hunt and Hendricks in a Mumbai automated multi-level parking garage (which was constructed over a six-month period just for the film).[24] The film's climax scene was shot with Indian film actor Anil Kapoor in the Sun Network office in Bangalore.[29][30] Also, the film's opening Moscow prison escape scenes were shot on location in a real former prison near Prague.[24]

Bird, having directed several Disney and Pixar films and short films, incorporated the trademark "A113" into the film on two separate occasions. The first is the design print on Hanaway's ring during the flashback sequence, and the second being when Hunt calls in for support and uses the drop callsign, Alpha 1-1-3.[31]


Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol: Music from the Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by Michael Giacchino
Released January 10, 2012 (2012-01-10)
Genre Film score
Length 76:28
Label Varèse Sarabande
Producer Michael Giacchino
Michael Giacchino chronology
Monte Carlo
Ghost Protocol
John Carter
Mission: Impossible chronology
Mission: Impossible III
Ghost Protocol
Rogue Nation

The musical score for Ghost Protocol was composed by Michael Giacchino, who also composed the music for the third film and collaborated with Bird on The Incredibles and Ratatouille. As in previous installments, the score incorporates Lalo Schifrin's themes from the original television series.[32] "Lalo is an amazing jazz writer. You know you can't write a straight-up jazz score for a film like this but you can certainly hint at it here and there," said Giacchino, explaining the stylistic influence generated by Schifrin's history with the franchise.[33] A soundtrack album was released by Varèse Sarabande on January 10, 2012.[34]

All music composed by Michael Giacchino.

No. Title Length
1. "Give Her My Budapest"   1:57
2. "Light the Fuse" (Contains Mission: Impossible Theme by Lalo Schifrin) 2:01
3. "Knife to a Gun Fight"   3:42
4. "In Russia, Phone Dials You" (Contains Mission: Impossible Theme and "The Plot" by Lalo Schifrin) 1:40
5. "Kremlin with Anticipation" (Contains Mission: Impossible Theme and "The Plot" by Lalo Schifrin) 4:12
6. "From Russia with Love" (Contains Mission: Impossible Theme by Lalo Schifrin) 3:37
7. "Ghost Protocol" (Contains Mission: Impossible Theme by Lalo Schifrin) 4:58
8. "Railcar Rundown" (Contains Mission: Impossible Theme by Lalo Schifrin) 1:11
9. "Hendricks' Manifesto" (Contains Mission: Impossible Theme by Lalo Schifrin) 3:17
10. "A Man, A Plan, A Code, Dubai" (Contains Mission: Impossible Theme by Lalo Schifrin) 2:44
11. "Love the Glove" (Contains Mission: Impossible Theme by Lalo Schifrin) 3:44
12. "The Express Elevator" (Contains Mission: Impossible Theme by Lalo Schifrin) 2:31
13. "Mission Impersonatable"   3:55
14. "Moreau Trouble Than She's Worth"   6:44
15. "Out for a Run"   3:54
16. "Eye of the Wistrom"   1:05
17. "Mood India" (Contains Mission: Impossible Theme by Lalo Schifrin) 4:28
18. "Mumbai's the Word"   7:14
19. "Launch Is on Hendricks"   2:22
20. "World's Worst Parking Valet" (Contains Mission: Impossible Theme by Lalo Schifrin) 5:03
21. "Putting the Miss in Mission" (Contains Mission: Impossible Theme by Lalo Schifrin) 5:19
22. "Mission: Impossible Theme (Out with a Bang Version)"   0:53



Tom Cruise along with Anil Kapoor at the Taj Mahal for the film promotion.

In July 2011, a teaser trailer for Ghost Protocol was released illustrating new shots from the film, one of which being Tom Cruise scaling the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa building in Dubai.[35] Moreover, prior to its release, the studio presented IMAX footage of the film to an invitation-only crowd of opinion makers and journalists at central London's BFI IMAX theater. One of the many scenes that were included was a chase scene in a Dubai desert sandstorm.[36]

During November 2011, the Paramount released a Facebook game of the film in order to promote it. The new game allowed players to choose the roles of IMF agents and assemble teams to embark on a multiplayer journey. Players were also able to garner tickets to the film's U.S. premiere and a hometown screening of the film for 30 friends.[37]

Theatrical release[edit]

Following the world premiere in Dubai on December 7, 2011,[38] the film was released in IMAX and other large-format theaters in the U.S. on December 16, 2011,[39] with general release on December 21, 2011.

Home media[edit]

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was released on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital download on April 17, 2012.[40] The home media releases, however, do not preserve the original IMAX imagery,[41][42] and its aspect ratio is consistently cropped to 2.40:1 rather than switching to a 1.78:1 aspect ratio during the IMAX scenes. Blu-ray Disc releases such as The Dark Knight,[43] Tron: Legacy,[44] and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen[45] will switch between 2.40:1 for regular scenes and 1.78:1 for IMAX scenes.


Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 93%, based on 227 reviews, with an average rating of 7.7/10, making it the best-reviewed entry of the series. The site's critical consensus reads, "Stylish, fast-paced, and loaded with gripping set pieces, the fourth Mission: Impossible is big-budget popcorn entertainment that really works."[46] Metacritic assigned the film a score of 73 out of 100, based on 47 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[47]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, saying the film "is a terrific thriller with action sequences that function as a kind of action poetry".[48] Stephen Whitty of The Star-Ledger wrote, "The eye-candy—from high-tech gadgets to gorgeous people—has only been ratcheted up. And so has the excitement." He also gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars.[49] Giving the film 3 out of 4 stars, Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe said, "In its way, the movie has old-Hollywood elegance. The scope and sets are vast, tall, and cavernous, but Bird scales down for spatial intimacy."[50]

Philippa Hawker of The Sydney Morning Herald gave the film 3 stars out of 5, and said it is "ludicrously improbable, but also quite fun."[51] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly opined that the movie "brims with scenes that are exciting and amazing at the same time; they're brought off with such casual aplomb that they're funny, too. ... Ghost Protocol is fast and explosive, but it's also a supremely clever sleight-of-hand thriller. Brad Bird, the animation wizard, ... showing an animator's miraculously precise use of visual space, has a playful, screw-tightening ingenuity all his own."[52] Roger Moore of The Charlotte Observer said, "Brad Bird passes his audition for a career as a live-action director. And Ghost Protocol more than makes its bones as an argument for why Tom Cruise should continue in this role as long as his knees, and his nerves, hold up." He gave the film 3 out of 4 stars.[53]

Box office[edit]

Ghost Protocol grossed $209,397,903 in North America and $485,315,477 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $694,713,380.[54] It is the highest-grossing film worldwide in the Mission: Impossible series,[55] and the 5th highest-grossing film of 2011.[56] It is also the highest-grossing film worldwide starring Cruise, surpassing War of the Worlds from the top spot.[57]

In limited release at 425 locations in North America, it earned $12.8 million over its opening weekend.[58] After five days of limited release, on its sixth day, it expanded to 3,448 theaters and reached first place at the box office with $8.92 million.[59] The film reached the No. 1 spot at the box office in its second and third weekends with $29.6 million and $29.4 million respectively.[60][61] Though only 9% of the film's screenings were in IMAX theaters, they accounted for 23% of the film's box office.[62]

Outside North America, it debuted to a $69.5 million in 42 markets representing approximately 70% of the marketplace. In the United Arab Emirates, it set an opening-weekend record of $2.4 million (since surpassed by Marvel's The Avengers).[63] In two countries outside the U.S. in which filming took place, its opening weekend gross increased by multiples over the previous installment: in Russia, more than doubling, to $6.08 million[64] and in India, more than quadrupling, to $4.0 million.[65] It is the highest-grossing Mission: Impossible film outside North America.[66] It topped the box office outside North America for three consecutive weekends (during December 2011)[67] and five weekends in total (the other two in 2012).[57] Its highest-grossing markets after North America are China ($102.5 million),[68] Japan ($69.7 million) and South Korea ($51.1 million).[69]


Award Category Recipients and nominees Result
Alliance of Women Film Journalists[70][71] Kick Ass Award for Best Female Action Star Paula Patton Nominated
Golden Reel Awards[72] Best Sound Editing: Sound Effects and Foley in a Feature Film Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Nominated
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Buttkicker Tom Cruise Nominated
MTV Movie Awards[73] Best Fight Tom Cruise vs. Michael Nyqvist Nominated
Best Gut-Wrenching Performance Tom Cruise Nominated
Saturn Awards[74] Best Action or Adventure Film Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Won
Best Director Brad Bird Nominated
Best Actor Tom Cruise Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Paula Patton Nominated
Best Music Michael Giacchino Nominated
Best Editing Paul Hirsch Won
Teen Choice Awards[75] Choice Movie: Action Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol Nominated
Choice Movie Actor: Action Tom Cruise Nominated
Choice Movie Actress: Action Paula Patton Nominated
Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Models in a Feature Motion Picture John Goodson, Paul Francis Russell and Victor Schutz Nominated
World Stunt Awards Best Stunt Coordinator and/or 2nd Unit Director Pavel Cajzl, Dan Bradley, Russell Solberg, Gregg Smrz and Owen Walstrom Nominated


In December 2011, Pegg suggested that he and Cruise are interested in returning for a fifth Mission: Impossible film.[76] Paramount is also reportedly interested in fast-tracking a fifth film due to the fourth film's success.[77] Bird has stated that he probably would not return to direct a fifth film, but Tom Cruise has been confirmed to return.[78] It was revealed In August 2013 that Christopher McQuarrie will be the director of Mission Impossible 5.[79] Principal photography began in February 2014 in London.[80] Paramount Pictures has set the film for a July 31, 2015 release date.[81] The plot centers around Hunt's IMF team in conflict with "the Syndicate", an international criminal organization first mentioned at the end of Ghost Protocol.

See also[edit]

  • Mission: Impossible, the television series that served as an inspiration for the film series.


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