'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol' Trailer: An Expert Analysis

We break down the first sneak peek of Tom Cruise's fourth 'Mission.'

The first [article id="1666576"]"Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" trailer[/article] begins in classic fashion for this epic spy franchise: with a ridiculously destructive explosion. It's been almost six years, after all, since the previous installment hit theaters, and so this new footage, which popped up online Tuesday evening, delivers the fiery goods early and often.

Hit play on the embedded video as we walk through some of the key moments in the trailer, then read on for a deeper exploration of what's going on in the "Ghost Protocol" footage.

The J.J. Abrams Conspiracy

Early on, as Tom Wilkinson explains the unachievable mission Tom Cruise and his team will confront, we see Wilkinson flip through a series of digital profiles of the IMF agents. Josh Holloway's character, it seems, is "disavowed."

Now if you're a fan of the franchise, you'll remember that in the third film, Keri Russell (a veteran of producer J.J. Abrams' "Felicity") is killed surprisingly early in the action. Our working theory is that we're in for a similar treat for Holloway, who starred in Abrams' "Lost." We don't see a lot of him in the rest of the trailer, and when you do see him, he's usually alone. All signs point to Holloway getting an unfortunate, and quite possibly bloody, exit in "Ghost Protocol."

The Brad Bird Comparison

Midway through the trailer, we get a moment that clearly harkens back to the first "M:I" movie. As Jeremy Renner flies down into a silo-like structure and the camera follows him from above, we can't help but think of the moment in the original film in which Cruise, secured via harness, swooped down into a secure CIA facility.

While J.J. Abrams has told us "Ghost Protocol" will carry the unmistakable signature of director Brad Bird, who is making his live-action debut after animated fare like "The Incredibles," it's hard to see any Birdian touches here. This looks like a "Mission" movie, not a Brad Bird one. And we wonder if, in the finished film, that will still be the case. One of Bird's signature stylistic traits is action (and interactions) infused with humor, and "M:I" is hardly a franchise that goes for laughs.

The Tom Cruise Marathon

It would not be a Tom Cruise movie, let alone a "Mission" movie, without a shot of the action star running like the wind. There's a hilarious YouTube video about this, which is definitely worth watching. But all jokes aside, let's give Cruise some serious credit: We tend to take him for granted, but the guy is almost 50 years old, and here he's running, jumping, diving and nearly dying. That's impressive stuff.

The Jeremy Renner Possibility

Renner, of "Hurt Locker" fame, is a new face in the franchise; last year, he told MTV News he was being groomed to take over the franchise from Cruise. But that's not at all the sense we get from the trailer, especially when Cruise suggests Renner is hiding something. First off, Renner is reportedly the front-runner to take over the "Bourne" franchise from Matt Damon, and it'd be odd to have the guy be the face of two separate spy series. And second, based on some of the dialogue in the trailer, there just might be a twist with Renner's character in "Ghost Protocol." Is he a villain? Is the trailer just trying to throw us for a loop? Can we possibly have a "Mission" movie in the future that doesn't feature Cruise himself?

The IMAX Grandeur

The trailer wraps up with an epic scene in which Tom Cruise scales the Burj Khalifa building in Dubai, the tallest building in the world. This scene is compelling for two reasons. One, it was shot with IMAX cameras, and for all the technical mumbo-jumbo you can get into when talking about this technology, the fact is that watching something shot in IMAX delivers a singularly breathtaking visual scope. "Ghost Protocol" will be worth seeing in an IMAX theater just for this scene. And second, Cruise clearly stole the gloves he wore in "Minority Report" to scale this building, "Spider-Man"-style. Hey, can you blame a guy for trying to sneak a swarm of blockbusters into one film?

Check out everything we've got on "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol."

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