Mission Impossible Fallout Blu-ray Event

In honor of the Mission: Impossible – Fallout digital and Blu-ray release, I got to spend the day at the International Spy Museum. There, I learned about spycraft, spoke with members of the cast, and sat down with real-life spies. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read about what happened, while watching a video of the experience.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout Blu-ray Event

“Did your wife know you were a spy?”

The question comes more than halfway through our tour of the International Spy Museum, directed at executive director (and former spy) Christopher P. Costa. A greying, spectacled, compact man in a well-cut but off-the-rack suit, Costa looks nothing like a spy you’d see in a Hollywood movie. But that was his trade for years, working as a career intelligence office out of the military. He’s also a former member of the National Security Council at the White House. “Before you get upset, just know that I was apolitical!” he ensures us when he reveals this part of his resume.

Now, he works at the International Spy Museum, a small but fascinating building loaded with spycraft tech from around the world. We’ve been brought here today to celebrate the impending digital and Blu-ray release of Mission: Impossible – Fallout, the latest exciting chapter in the inexplicably fantastic Mission: Impossible franchise.

Costa responds to the question about his wife: “Not really.” He clarifies: his wife, whom he’s still with, had some idea that his work in the military was more than meets the eye – he’d often be called away on “work” at 2 a.m., for instance. But it wasn’t until he became the Spy Museum’s executive director that Mrs. Costa put two and two together. That level of deception sounds almost insidious, and yet Costa makes it all come across as very casual. All is well. Sure, he was a secret spy for years, lying to virtually everyone he knew – but so what? Everyone has a secret or two. Or three.

The executive director is an immensely likable man. He’s a bit corny, clearly highly intelligent, and surprisingly warm. You can easily see yourself spilling state secrets to him, completely unaware you’ve just given away the game. He takes us through the museum at light speed, and he enthusiastically declares, “Oh, this is my favorite part of the museum!” at least five separate times for five separate rooms.

While Mission: Impossible makes espionage look like a non-stop thrill-ride full of dangerous jumps, huge explosions, and impossibly realistic masks being ripped off, Costa’s tour underscores that real spy work is all about observation – gathering data, paying attention. And of course, all that deception. “Here’s how you can use your children!” Costa cheerfully proclaims as he points out a child’s toy truck in which a spy once stashed some information.

Peppered throughout the museum are artifacts used in spycraft. There’s a lipstick tube that could shoot an actual bullet. There’s a coat button that’s actually a camera. There’s a tool kit meant to be hidden in someone’s anus (“It’s not very PC,” Costa says). And there’s the Bird Cam – a taxidermy pigeon with a camera strapped to it. Real pigeons were used in the past, flying high above, unwittingly snapping photos. There’s a huge black and white photo behind the pigeon of a mansion on a sprawling hillside. On either side of the photo you can see the tips of the wings of the pigeon taking the photo. Of everything we end up seeing, the Bird Cam is what sticks with me the most, for reasons I can’t even comprehend. It’s about time for the Mission: Impossible to add a pigeon character, I think to myself.

Wolf Blitzer Mission Impossible

After the tour, it’s time for me and my fellow journalists to sit down with two stars from Fallout. No, Tom Cruise isn’t there. Nor is Henry Cavill. Or Rebecca Ferguson. Instead, Wolf Blitzer – yes, that Wolf Blitzer – and Kristoffer Joner are on hand. Blitzer has a cameo in Fallout as himself…until it’s revealed he’s someone else entirely. Spoiler alert: he’s actually Simon Pegg’s character Benji in disguise. Joner plays nuclear weapons expert Nils Debruuk, who is captured by IMF and put through the elaborate ruse involving Pegg as Blitzer.

Joner ends up being the more quiet of the two. Soft spoken and polite, he’s just not that talkative. Blitzer, who makes his living talking, is more than happy to converse, though. “Hello, I’m Wolf,” he says to me by way of introduction, giving me a firm handshake, and I have to resist the urge to reply, “But of course you are.”

Once we’ve settled down for the interview – which I’m told can only last five minutes – Blitzer immediately takes the wind out of my sails by announcing he doesn’t want to give away the huge spoiler involving his cameo. That more or less torpedoes every question I have, but I plow ahead anyway, and ensure Mr. Blitzer I’ll include a spoiler warning. The conversation is over before I know it, but I’m able to learn that Pegg followed Blitzer around for a few days to learn how to play him – even though he doesn’t really play him in the film. He just rips a rubber mask off.

Spies

Our next interviews of the day will be with real-life former spies Peter Earnest and Jonna Mendez, coming after a stretch of downtime. That downtime is filled by a handwriting expert who works for the museum, and offers to tell us all about ourselves based on a handwritten paragraph. I oblige, not expecting much, and come away fairly spooked when she ends up with a very accurate assessment. Through a few mere swoops and curves and crowding letters, this stranger is able to tell me all about myself. To the point where I don’t even want to repeat what she said, for fear of being too exposed. “How did you learn to do this?” I asked, genuinely perplexed. Her answer: books from the library and Barnes and Noble.

The interview with the two spies – also limited in time – goes swimmingly. They’re polite, talkative, fascinating. And they look nothing like you’d imagine spies to look. Instead, they have the appearance of a pair of grandparents on vacation. Before I go, I have them confirm to me what – in their learned opinion – is the most accurate spy movie. They both agree on the answer: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the 2011 slow-burn espionage thriller from Tomas Alfredson, adapted from the novel by John le Carré – a former spy himself.

Before the day is out, we’re asked to participate in an interactive experience called Operation Spy. “It’ll be fun!” we’re assured, in the same type of tone parents assure children that trips to the dentist will be fun. But it is fun, in the end. It boils down to a very elaborate, multi-location escape room challenge.

Set in a fictional country called Khandar, Operation Spy involves a mission to locate a missing nuclear device. We first get to look at security footage of an embassy, and while everyone else is zeroing in a shady conversation, I notice a pigeon bopping around outside.

Just like the Bird Cam, I think. No one else seems to notice. The mission carries on – we go through rooms decorated to look like sewers, like secluded rooms, like the backs of trucks. We have to try to crack a safe (no one can do it). We have to scan documents. We have to conduct a lie detector test. It’s all rather amusing, and moves swiftly over the course of an hour. At the conclusion, we’re presented with two options to resolve the situation – a diplomatic route, or a route involving a Black Ops team. Everyone picks Black Ops. When asked why, we’re honest: it’s cooler. In the end, it all works out – but I can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened had we picked the other option. Would the mission end with all of us “dead”?

And what ever happened to that pigeon?

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is out now on Digital HD, and arrives on Blu-ray/4K UHD/DVD on December 4, 2018.

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