The centre of gravity in the latest Mission Impossible film keeps shifting. The world is too small for agent Ethan Hunt, and in the four central settings of the movie—a Russian prison, the Kremlin, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and a billionaire’s home in Mumbai—location design is the key.
The thing about special effects on a computer is that it automatically knocks out the ambience of a city. Wolf whistles from the audience greet Mumbai as it arrives at the end of the movie, but Mumbai is just an idea in some designer’s head. There is nothing recognisable about our ‘maximum city’. A high-speed drive through its ‘crowded’ streets shows zilch, and a satellite-owning rich man (Anil Kapoor), who lives in a mansion that is out of a comic book on Maharajah Palaces, is unbelievable. With his tray of mobile phones and collection of Indian art, this actor has turned himself into a caricature and buffoon just to be on the same movie set as Tom Cruise.
The best location in MI-4, not for its authentic situation of a real city but for the incredible stunts that Ethan Hunt (Cruise) does on the tallest building there, is Dubai. The man does a Spiderman with a pair of sticky gloves, climbing and racing down the face of glass windows. It is mesmerising precisely because the guys watching him from a room inside, safe and sound, are so nonchalant about it. Their attitude is: ‘Hey, hurry up man, get on with it’.
Credit for this blasé attitude that allows ‘Cruise Control’ to steal the picture as usual, goes to his assistants—the sexy lady agent Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and two gentlemen, one amusing and the other poker-faced. They provide the ‘business as usual’ atmosphere that makes the defusing of a launched nuclear missile look like it’s all in a day’s work for the unflappable Mister Hunt.