No one is more up for a last-minute impromptu trip than a spy. In Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his merry band of spies board and flee via more modes of transport than there are punctuation marks in the title, and they do it on a very short notice. We’re not just talking about airplanes, the trains, and neither are automobiles – although there are plenty of them, with “Put me on this flight” an oft-heard refrain – but also horses traversing the desert, dirt bikes and a particularly sleek water taxi. The travel writer in me can’t help but wonder: Did I choose the wrong career to see the world?
Novelty and privilege are not lost on the characters. For a fleeting moment, on a balcony of Venice, Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) points out to Hunt that this is his first time in the floating city – Ethan agrees that somehow he too has never been there until now. To better appreciate the routes of these accidental tourists who stop not only in Venice but also in Abu Dhabi, Romeand the Austrian Alps in their adventures – we met production designer Gary Freeman.
Midfield Terminal, Abu Dhabi International Airport
Can you tell me about Abu Dhabi airport?
We wanted to find one of the most spectacular airports around the world to serve as the backdrop for this grand and chaotic chase sequence, and location manager David Campbell Bell stumbled across the incredible Midfield Terminal at Abu Dhabi International Airport which had not yet opened. Filming at airports is notoriously difficult, as you have thousands of paying travelers and most airports are open 24/7 these days. There is also the security side of things. For us to be able to spend time in what is probably one of the most spectacular buildings, let alone airports, I have ever been in was amazing. It’s almost a mile from one terminal to another terminal, it was so expansive.
It gave us a unique opportunity to shoot in this incredible and never-before-seen location. We were filming in the terminal, in baggage handling, on the tarmac with the planes and on the roof. There were no high-end duty-free shops yet, and we knew we needed that aspect so (Hunt) could use it as a hideout. We had to set everything up – our decorator, Raffaella Giovannetti, had lots of contacts in Italy and we were able to get all the branding to make it look like everything was up and running.