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Still Cruising: Tom premieres new ‘Mission Impossible’ adventure in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – The red carpet unfurled Monday in Abu Dhabi for Hollywood action megastar Tom Cruise, who was on hand for the Middle Eastern premiere of “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One.”

Cruise was met by an enthusiastic crowd of fans and movie buffs eager to catch a glimpse of the star at the Emirates Palace Hotel in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Dressed in a tailored tuxedo and flashing his signature smile, Cruise appeared moved by the exuberant reception, stopping to speak with many attendees. The evening’s buzz was punctuated by the “Mission: Impossible” theme, its familiar chords adding a layer of cinematic nostalgia to the night.

“I’m a cinephile, I love movies and the history of cinema and how this art form develops,” Cruise told The Associated Press on the red carpet. “I didn’t know whether the audience was going to embrace (the first Mission: Impossible movie), it was the first film I ever produced and I did it because I wanted to challenge myself in many ways as an actor, as a producer, as a storyteller.”

“Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” is the seventh instalment of the blockbuster USD3.5 billion grossing franchise famed for jam-packed action and ever-daring stunts performed by the 60-year-old Cruise himself.

“We’ve had a lot of fun coming up with these moments,” said Cruise.

The Mission: Impossible series follows the globe-trotting adventures of Ethan Hunt, a secret agent of the Impossible Missions Force, or IMF, as he undertakes high-risk covert operations. Picture heart-racing action, sophisticated gadgets, and Cruise’s Hunt executing death-defying stunts at every turn.

Matching the topic of the moment, Hunt and his IMF team are tasked with tracking down a potent new artificial intelligence weapon in “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One.” Scenes include base-jumping off a cliff on a motorcycle, hurling a steam train off an exploded bridge, and drifting a yellow Fiat 500 through Rome’s winding streets.

In a nod to the locale, the film incorporates several action sequences in Abu Dhabi. The desert landscapes of Liwa, known as the Empty Quarter, set the stage for intense horseback chases and firearm confrontations. Cruise runs across the dune-shaped roof of Abu Dhabi International Airport’s new Midfield Terminal in another scene.

“When you see us shooting a sequence in Abu Dhabi, it’s about that culture, it’s about that country, and that’s why we keep coming back here,” said Christopher McQuarrie, who is returning for the third time as director of the high-octane spy series.

McQuarrie joined Cruise on the red carpet along with other Mission: Impossible co-stars, both new and returning. Hayley Atwell and Pom Klementieff made their franchise debut, while Simon Pegg reprised his role as Benji Dunn, a character known for infusing comedic relief into the franchise’s most tense scenes.

“When you have a film which is high-tension you need that to occasionally be injected in order to make it a little bit more enjoyable,” said Pegg.

Following pandemic delays, the production companies behind the franchise, Paramount Pictures and Skydance, pushed the film’s release from September of 2022 to July this year. A leaked video from the set featured Cruise launching an expletive-laden rant at colleagues after he reportedly spotted two crew members failing to respect social distancing rules. The star expressed his concern about the potential consequences, which included shutting down production and jeopardizing the then-struggling movie industry and the jobs it supports.

“We just had to write the rulebook on how to make a film during a pandemic,” said Pegg. “Make sure everything was super safe, that was Tom’s biggest challenge in a way was to make us all feel safe and be safe, somehow we muddle through.”

Cruise was praised by many for his role in revitalizing Hollywood following the industry’s pandemic-induced stagnation. This recognition came on the heels of his blockbuster film, “Top Gun: Maverick,” which not only marked Cruise’s first USD100 million debut but also signified the return of blockbuster movies to theatres as the most significant movie debut since the onset of the pandemic.

Abu Dhabi marks the third premiere location for “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One,” with the red carpet previously rolled out at the Spanish Steps in Rome and Leicester Square in London. The movie is set to open in US theatres on July 12.

Hayley Atwell, from left, Tom Cruise and Pom Klementieff pose for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film “Mission Impossible, Dead Reckoning Part One”, at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Monday. PHOTO: AP
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