Ghost Protocol Initiated

I am sure we can all recall a moment in time when we truly grow up. These, ‘rights of passage’ occur throughout our lives but generally are confined to our early teens and twenties. In June 1998 I headed on my first solo journey into Central London. It was perhaps the biggest interview of my life. Any dreams of working for Microsoft (or even Intel) were very distant at this point. I was off for an interview at Big Blue on the Southbank in London. This was the first time I would be travelling on the tube on my own. Actually, I had rarely used the tube with friends or family up to that point. London was where all the big people went, not a sixteen-year-old. My Dad worked in Ealing at the time, so I came to the office with him at the break of dawn and then walked from his office in the Broadway to the tube station. Anxious was not the word. Petrified was probably more accurate!

I had already mapped out the journey on a tube map but this did not stop me from jumping on a tube heading in the opposite direction once I got off the Central Line. I believe I took the Central Line to Oxford Circus and here changed for the Bakerloo Line. Eventually, I got to Waterloo and made my way to the office for my all-important interview. I walked past, the in-construction BFI IMAX cinema. It would open less than twelve months later (the ribbon was cut by Prince Michael of Kent in May 1999). I did wonder, in passing if I would ever be lucky enough to watch a film at this, the biggest screen in the country.

Fast forward over a decade and I would be returning to the BFI IMAX for my third visit. (Transformers in October 2007, Toy Story 3 (IMAX 3D) with my fiancé in July 2010). I had booked tickets for my Dad and I to go see the fourth instalment in the Mission Impossible franchise – Ghost Protocol. I had looked forward to this movie for months and drove my dearest wife mad! Any spot or interview with the stars would be recorded by me to digest at length later. Including a Jeremy Renner interview on Daybreak and going to lengths to read every single comment posted on a Stuart Heritage Guardian blog post once the original trailer was released. To be fair, I remember spotting the trailer was released on Twitter one morning and then grabbing headphones from my colleague Rich (I was still working at Intel back then) the moment he walked into the office at 8am, so I could catch the video on YouTube.

Yes I know I probably should change the record but I love Tom Cruise. For me, he symbolises the modern Hollywood action hero. While there are many things you can say about him, you cannot doubt that he always puts every inch of himself into his roles. Has he ever made a bad film? In my eyes, never, but then I have not even seen some of his better critically acclaimed roles. (They are queued on my media server waiting to be watched. I can never find the time or the permission from my other half!) In Ethan Hunt he has created a likeable spy with a toothy grin but a ferocious mean streak. Probably my favourite fiction hero and he appeals to be more than James Bond or even Jason Bourne (not seen any of the Bourne movies) because he is played by Tom Cruise. While Superman is my favourite comic book superhero, Ethan Hunt will always be my favourite secret agent.

My Dad is a big fan of the original Mission:Impossible series and I recall spending many Sunday mornings watching the show on Channel 4, instead of cartoons like most children my age. I did not really mind and in recent years, my Dad still watches the re-runs on Quest or whichever channel is showing them. I am sure once it lands on Blu-Ray I will gift them to my Dad. I recall him even catching the lesser-known late 1980s reboot starring Peter Graves as Jim Phelps. Up to this point, I have seen all the first three movies with my family. I recall in 1996, waiting for my Dad to rush back from working in London, so I could catch the first movie at the local multiplex (it was probably still UCI Cinema chain at this stage). My sisters and I waited outside for our Dad to appear so we could catch the Friday night showing. We did eventually and I really enjoyed the showing. For the first sequel, I was now 19 years old but still went along with my family. My memory fades now, but I believe my Mum came along for this showing, which again was at the local multiplex referred to as Wycombe Six. However both of these outings are in the pre-blogging days, so there are no blog posts for me to refer back to. It was in 2006, with the third and to that point in time best instalment in the franchise, that I took charge. I booked tickets for my family. The group had changed then, including my Aunty over on holiday from India, my Mum, Dad and youngest sibling Julie. My other sisters were busy. I recall the trip to Vue Reading very well. We got there early, had time to look around the shops and had coffee from Starbucks, sitting outside in the late Spring sunshine on a pleasant Friday evening. I remember my Dad grabbing the milk from inside, so we could enjoy our beverages out on the riverside complex. We took up almost a whole row in screen four (the largest at Vue Reading) and I remember having to ask a couple to move along one so we could all fit in and explain to people behind me that we had taken up all these seats. You can go back and read that blog entry if you so wish but I ended the entry with a question – would Hunt return for another adventure? I had to wait five years for that answer!

While I wish I could have taken all my family, my sisters are all grown up and have other plans. My Mum was busy and I doubt she would have enjoyed the underground at Christmas. It was a boys afternoon out, just my Dad and I. I was looking forward to spending time with him, as we have both been very busy over not just Christmas but since I got married in August. We caught the train into Marylebone and tube down to Waterloo. This was my first time at the newly renovated High Wycombe Train Station. The drop-off / pick-up point has been moved and a large multi-storey car park been built. Many years overdue but well received Chiltern Railways. The journey via London Underground is easy as we have just the Bakerloo line to catch to Waterloo. From here we walked down the subway to IMAX. We had arrived. I grabbed my credit card from my wallet, and swiped in the machine to collect our tickets. Mission Impossible 4 here we go!

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol

The IMAX has had a refresh since I was last here, some five hundred and twenty days ago to watch Toy Story 3 with my fiancé, Michelle. Hosting the Ghost Protocol UK première was perhaps part of the reason to renovate the figurehead cinema. You cannot have Tom Cruise, Brad Bird, Paula Carter or Simon Pegg visiting a dilapidated venue. While it may boast the biggest screen in the country (United Kingdom) it has always been a let down in terms of furnishings and refreshments. My Dad and I did not bother with popcorn, as much as Brad Bird had said in recent spots it was a popcorn movie! We got to our seats early and I explained to my Dad that yes, this screen was the size of four double-decker buses! I was looking forward to the IMAX preview but it was not shown to my somewhat disappointment. However, the IMAX is old school so each screening is introduced by one of the ushers. He welcomed us to the screening and also explained that the movie was not in 3D, as some rather foolish punters had asked. He also mentioned the prologue to The Dark Knight Rises. I am a fan of Batman, particularly Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of the Caped Crusader but that was a bonus for me, I was here for Mission Impossible. In the end, I had to read the full script of the trailer online later as I could not understand the dialogue of the main protagonist Bane, over the airplane noise. (A updated sound mix would be released to IMAX in early January but too late for us).

I really enjoyed the movie, it automatically has become my favourite of the franchise. It was good fun, funny and the action was out of this world. I am so glad I saw the movie at IMAX to appreciate the spectacular scenes shot on the tallest building in the world. The plot was far from perfect but it had enough going on to keep me on the edge of my seat. Pegg gave a great comedy performance in an expanded role from the previous outing. Paula Carter was smoking hot in her role as Jane Carter and Jeremy Renner, if he is to fill the shoes of Cruise, he is on his way to be a somewhat worthy successor. I loved every second of the ride and want to see the movie again soon (even though it will be sometime before it will be released on Blu-ray). I recommend it to you, just go read the reviews on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, even the Tom Cruise haters will enjoy this first live action movie from Brad Bird. The man in my opinion can do no wrong! If you thought I was a super fan, check out this review from blogger Crazy Best! I just look forward to Paramount Pictures fast tracking the next instalment but please make sure Cruise remains in-front of the camera, in some description (even if just a supporting role from headquarters!) Being the producer I am sure he will have a big say on what happens next time around!

As we headed onto the train at Marylebone, I updated my Twitter with a comment. A few hours later it was retweeted by the official Ghost Protocol UK twitter feed. Mission very much accomplished, as my Dad fell asleep on the train home.

Ghost Protocol UK Twitter Feed

Oh, I need to finish off with what happened with my interview at Big Blue office on the Southbank. I passed the interview with flying colours, they just could not find a placement for me on their Youth Training Scheme. Thankfully, some fifteen years later it has not stopped me from achieving some major milestones in my career. This does not stop me from wondering what could have been?

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