Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol (2011) is, in my opinion, the best Mission: Impossible film yet produced. With Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation set for release on July 31, I figured that I’d take a look back at the wardrobe from the previous installment in the famous film franchise.
Although there aren’t many suits in the film, the ones which are worn are quite interesting. Most of the suits are worn by Tom Cruise as IMF (Impossible Mission Force) agent Ethan Hunt, however nice suits are also worn by Jeremy Renner as William Brandt and Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn. All the suits for these three principal actors were custom tailored for them; Cruise’s blue Dubai suit had to have sixteen multiples for all the stunt work.
Before I get into the Dubai and Mumbai suits, I’d like to take a moment to illustrate a major faux pas. In his first scene, Renner is dressed in a mostly lackluster outfit. However costumer Michael Kaplan, either intentionally or unintentionally, gave Mr. Renner a shirt with both a button-down collar and French cuffs. Most menswear enthusiasts consider wearing a tie with a button-down collar to be entirely inelegant, but to wear a tie, a button-down collar, and French cuffs is a downright crime. Now, with that out of the way, I shall proceed.
The first suit I’ll look at is probably the most recognizable suit from the film. When Hunt and the team travel to Dubai, Hunt must impersonate the villain, Cobalt, and secure nuclear launch codes. When his attempt to manufacture a mask fails, Hunt must go in with only the clothes on his back. Luckily for him, the clothes are great. Hunt chooses a mid-blue, single breasted, 2-button suit. Characterized by double vents, flap pockets, and notch lapels, possibly the most striking aspect of the suit is the fabric.
The fabric is a silk/mohair blend. This is an ideal fabric for the heat of Dubai; silk, although very brittle, is excellent at inducing airflow which keeps the wearer cool in high temperatures. Mohair also wears cool and, more importantly, is very elastic which, when combined with the silk, creates a fabric that cool to wear yet still tailors very well. Both of these fibers are very shiny which gives Cruise’s suit a gaudy look that is perfectly at home in Dubai, a capital of excess and luxury.
Another aspect of the suit that is quite flattering to Cruise (and to Renner who wears an identical suit only in grey) is the higher button stance. Although when the film came out a high button stance was, and still is, popular, most men don’t benefit from it. However, Cruise and Renner, who stand at 5’ 7” and 5’ 8” respectively, can take advantage of a higher button stance to make them appear taller and, by extension, more imposing and powerful. Unfortunately, the high button stance comes at the cost of exposing the belt and a bit of shirt fabric between the waistband of the trousers and the fastening point of the jacket. Although I myself don’t find this to be troublesome, many think it unacceptable to expose shirt fabric below the button.
Cruise chooses to go tieless with his suit, whereas Renner completes his look with a cool striped tie in silver and beige and a (matching?) pocket square that, unfortunately, disappears into his breast pocket. This difference in their outfits may highlight the relationship between the characters they are impersonating. Hunt is impersonating a rich, high-class criminal and can therefore break the rules by going tieless. Brandt, on the other hand, is impersonating a contractor who was hired only to verify the nuclear launch codes. Since he is working for someone, it would be more appropriate for Brandt to dress more conservatively. Whether this was the intention of Kaplan I don’t know, but it could be a possible reason for the differences in their costumes.
In addition, Cruise’s high-contrast complexion is complemented by the high contrast between the white of the shirt and the blue of his suit. Conversely, Renner’s lower-contrast complexion is complemented by the low contrast of his white shirt and grey suit. It’s always refreshing to see costume designers take into account the coloring of the actors. When the clothes mesh perfectly with the actor’s complexion something just snaps into place and elevates the look of the whole scene.
Finally, I’d like to take a quick look at the tuxedo Cruise wears during the climax of the film. Made by Giorgio Armani from the designs of Michael Kaplan, the tuxedo is made in midnight blue wool, most likely with some mohair blended in to provide the fabric with sheen. Cruise has a long history with Giorgio Armani and can often be seen wearing the brand’s clothes at major award ceremonies.
The tuxedo is made in a mostly classic design with jetted pockets, covered buttons, and straight trousers without cuffs. The lapels, buttons, and pocket jettings are faced in a black silk while the bowtie is midnight blue silk. However, Kaplan broke some rules by designing the tuxedo with notch lapels, double vents, and a 2-button front. Although double vents have become acceptable on tuxedos (Sean Connery’s famous dinner suit from Dr. No had double vents), notch lapels are still widely considered to be unacceptable for all events save very private dinners. As the party which Hunt attends in Mumbai is far from a private dinner, the notch lapels are quite unacceptable on his tuxedo. A 2-button front is also unacceptable on a tuxedo; they are considered both untraditional and inelegant. Interestingly, the tuxedos used in the film were labeled “Giorgio Armani for Ethan Hunt.”
Overall, Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol is a visual banquet for menswear enthusiasts. Although I’ve only looked at two suits, there are many others which warranted space here. The linen three piece suit worn by the film’s villain during his climactic fight with Hunt is very interesting as is the white dinner jacket worn by Indian tech mogul Brij Nath (Anil Kapoor). To experience these you’ll have to go out and watch the film yourself. Even if you’ve already seen it, Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol definitely deserves to be re-watched before Rogue Nation hits theaters in July.