Brad Bird (Film/Video BFA 1976) has written and directed three critically acclaimed animated features: The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille. Today's opening of Mission:Impossible 4 - Ghost Protocol marks the director's first live-action feature film, tapped by producer and star Tom Cruise to helm the project.
The three earlier Mission:Impossible installments—by Brian De Palma, John Woo and J.J. Abrams, respectively—each reflected the directors' styles and strengths, and Bird's film capitalizes on his animation background.
A recent Movieline interview asked Bird how his prior work informed his approach to Ghost Protocol:
Animation helped me because it teaches you to pre-visualize. You have to imagine what everything is going to be before you realize it. The way I was trained in animation was with hand-drawn animation so, in that instance, you’re literally sitting down and drawing everything. I’ve done storyboarding for films. The idea of pre-visualizing — I’m wired for that. I think if I had gone from a hand-drawn film, which my first film Iron Giant was, to live action, it would have been a bigger jump than it was to go from Incredibles and Ratatouille, where I’m working in computers and able to move cameras through space and light it as if its a real, physical world. Because I was familiar with that and able to orchestrate shots with the CG camera, it was a pretty comfortable transition....
The film is opening to early positive reviews with many critics pointing to the jaw-dropping action sequences, including a Tom Cruise stunt atop the world's tallest building—the Burj Khalifa—in Dubai, UAE. We found a featurette online of Bird directing the Burj Khalifa scene with Cruise dangling more than a half-mile above ground. Pay particular attention to Bird's choice of attire in the video.