The barren desert vista of Abu Dhabi’s Rub Al Khali or the Empty Quarter is an unmissable sight in the opening scene of Tom Cruise’s ‘Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One’ trailer that packs in plenty of action in its 2.16-minute runtime.
No mission was impossible for Cruise and his film crew as they famously shot the seventh instalment in the ‘Mission: Impossible’ franchise during the COVID-19 pandemic — being one of the first Hollywood projects to do so — bringing their production to Abu Dhabi, all while setting a benchmark for the film industry to reopen for business in January 2021.
Now a year and a few months later, director Christopher McQuarrie’s efforts have come to pass with the trailer presenting a slick return to the juggernaut franchise with Cruise spearheading a seventh IMF (Impossible Missions Force) adventure as agent Ethan Hunt, only this time, it’s not to his choosing but an order by Henry Czerny’s Eugene Kittridge for him to finally pick a side. “Your days of fighting for the greater good are over,” we hear him tell Hunt. “You’ve been fighting to save an ideal that doesn’t exist, [that] never did. You need to pick a side.”
Like all Cruise tentpoles, there’s plenty of running, car chases and explosions galore even as Hunt gallops into the Arabian desert before smashing up cars on the city streets of Rome, while his team mate Simon Pegg can be seen running through what possibly could be Abu Dhabi Airport.
The trailer keeps the adrenaline pumping up until its final moments, when we see Cruise performing the now infamous motorcycle stunt from a high cliff-edge in Norway. In a 2021 interview with Deadline, the actor spoke at length about the stunt, saying: “This is far and away the most dangerous thing I’ve attempted,” adding that the sequence is something he’s “wanted to do since [he] was a little kid.”
Fans first got a hint of Cruise and his crew heading to Abu Dhabi in January last year when McQuarrie posted a series of images from the film’s set on his Instagram. Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson, who starred as former MI6 agent Ilsa Faust in ‘Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation’, also sharing images of the Abu Dhabi desert, along with a picture of her lounging by a hotel pool in the city.
McQuarrie later revealed in February 2021 that he filmed ‘MI7’ and ‘MI8’ in the UAE, while thanking Abu Dhabi for facilitating the project. “Of the many challenges we’ve faced on our journey, none will be greater than outshining the gifts Abu Dhabi has given us,” McQuarrie wrote on Instagram.
The UAE has previously featured in two separate instalments of the ‘Mission: Impossible’ film series. The multibillion dollar franchise shot ‘Mission: Impossible — Fallout’ in Abu Dhabi back in 2018, which involved Cruise working with the UAE Armed Forces to film the infamous and risky HALO or high altitude, low open stunt for the film.
Back in 2011, the actor also made headlines around the world when he shot for ‘Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol’ at Burj Khalifa. The famous stunt saw Cruise’s character, Ethan Hunt, hang off the world’s tallest building, with the stunt taking 23 days and requiring some 400 crew members.
The ‘MI7’ shoot is the first such Hollywood project being filmed amidst the pandemic and the stress levels were high with Cruise even caught on audio in a clip obtained by The Sun where he was heard scolding staff on the set who for breaking coronavirus safety protocols.
Last May, Cruise told Empire Magazine how daunting the experience had been with seven-day shoots and setting protocols in place for others to follow.
“I’ve produced 30 to 40 movies. I am responsible for thousands, if not tens of thousands, of jobs,” Cruise told Empire. “All my friends in the industry, people that are in distribution, and my crew were like, ‘What are we going to do? I could lose my house!’ So I told the studio and I told the industry, ‘We’re going back. We’re going to get everyone back to work. We’re going to start shooting in the summer. And we’re going to figure out how to do it safely’.”
“We had to create protocols with studios and insurance companies, and work on laws in each country,” Cruise said, talking about how his team worked on convincing places including Abu Dhabi, Norway and Italy to let filming go ahead while travel was restricted. “Assuring them how we were going to film in the country. There were times when people said, ‘It’s not going to happen.’ And I just kept saying, ‘It’s happening.’”
‘Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One’ is scheduled to hit theatres on July 14, 2023. The film also marks the return of Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson and Vanessa Kirby. New additions to the cast include Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff, Shea Whigham and Esai Morales.
Meanwhile, those of you who want to get their fill of Cruise can catch him at UAE cinemas this weekend as ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ releases on May 26.