Based on the high-octane sequel’s box office performance this past weekend, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is knocking audience’s out with its insane, all-real stunt-work and dazzlingly choreographed action sequences. Opening in limited, IMAX-only release, the Tom Cruise-led blockbuster pulled in $14 million from only 425 screens nationwide, an impressive feat that should get all the more commendable once the flick opens in wider release Wednesday.

Aside from all of the badass explosions and gun-fights, though, the real reason to peep Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, of course, our current December/January 2012 issue’s cover girl, Paula Patton. Ask any dude who’s seen M:I already and they’ll most likely not be able to name any of Cruise’s co-stars other than Ms. Patton, who commands every scene she’s in with easy charm and radiant looks; not to mention, ass-kicking physicality, as seen when she spears a hot French female assassin (Lea Seydoux), WWE-style, and then proceeds to pulverize her.

That brutal girl-on-girl smackdown is just one of the many physical challenges that Patton nails in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. In this exclusive video, Patton chats with Complex about how she prepared for the movie’s huge stunts, what pieces of wisdom Tom Cruise shared with her before filming the scenes, and why fast cars excite her.