Fallout spoiler review

Building on the past and what we know about Ethan, how much did you look back and consider the Ethan we saw in the movies directed by Brian De Palma and John Woo?

Hardly at all, save one aspect: Zero body count. Ethan is reluctant to take human life for any reason. This was at the root of “one life over millions.” Ethan’s greatest strength could be turned into a weakness.

Tom Cruise has been playing Ethan Hunt for over 20 years. Is there anything particularly meaningful he’s said about the character that you’ve kept in mind during the making of these movies?

Ethan doesn’t want to do any of the things he does. He’d rather find any other way. He must always be forced into the stunt. He is not a daredevil.

Ethan is not a daredevil, but to some extent, Cruise has to be, to do some of the death-defying stuff he has for this series. Has there been a time when you thought of an idea that was great for the story but which was prohibitive – or even just not necessary – for Cruise to do himself? 

Quite the contrary. I am always looking for the thing Tom will say no to. I haven’t found it yet.

When you write with Tom Cruise and this cast in mind, of their many strengths as actors, are there any specific qualities they have that you consider while writing?

They all have their obvious strengths. What isn’t so obvious is how each of the team members can extract empathy from an audience. I used it to considerable effect in Fallout.

mission impossible fallout

You said once White Widow was cast, you knew how to proceed writing that character. How did you initially imagine White Widow, and how did she evolve once Vanessa Kirby was cast?

I had a vague sense of a character who represented a temptation to the dark side. But it wasn’t until I cast Vanessa that we discovered her delicate balance of playfulness and mischief. She is neither good nor evil, making her all the more unpredictable. It was important to me that all of the women in Mission own the scenes they’re in, just as it was important that they all in some way throw Ethan off balance.

Mission: Impossible evolves as a franchise with each movie, and it seems like fans are always open to the series going in a new direction. They don’t cling to expectations, but how much do you think about expectations while making a Mission: Impossible movie?

It’s impossible not to, even as we try to focus entirely on the task in front of us. In the end, a clear story with emotional stakes and empathetic characters will deliver you. It never ceases to amaze him how simple that formula is to calculate and how hard it is to execute.

I remember you saying you wanted the plot to be leaner and lighter after Rogue Nation, but the plot is a little busier this time. How much did the story evolve or change early on, or is the finished film close to what you initially imagined?

I’m amused by the conflicting opinion here. I’ve seen reviews that say the plot is impenetrable and others that say its the simplest plot of the series.

When we’re shooting these movies, we overshoot and over-explain everything, sometimes in multiple scenes. But Information is the death of emotion. The more you try to explain the story, the more the audience disconnects. They’re as intolerant of talk as they are of opacity. So we test, pare back, test some more, until we find the line between too much and not enough. I can assure you there is a version of Fallout where the story is made perfectly clear. But you’d never know it because you’d be in the bathroom then. There are some things you want until I give them to you. The trick is understanding what information matters and what holes don’t.

What the movie is missing is a moment where Ethan tells us emphatically what the plot is, or a moment when the villain tells Ethan. I think you’re either the person who counts on this type of scene or you’re not. For some, until Ethan says something, it isn’t true. A segment of the audience is left without closure. I recommend they watch the movie again. It’s all in there. And it’s ridiculously simple. But don’t count on Ethan to tell you what it is. He’s busy.

How long was your first cut? Are there any notable deleted scenes?

The first assembly was just over three hours, but only Eddie Hamilton and I saw that. We screened a cut for an audience just eleven days after we wrapped and that ran 2:43 without credits. The first test was 2:39 without credits. We pairs that back by 20 minutes. Three scenes never saw the light of day – I knew the franchise well enough by then to know their chances of survival. I didn’t even edit these scenes until I had settled on the final cut and only then as an exercise.

Only one scene was in question – a fight between Ilsa and Ethan after the footchase and before her scene with Luther. It was meant to bring their conflict to a head. My reasons for wanting it in the film were purely aesthetic – the establishing shot was great and a close up of Rebecca was breathtaking. After a lot of testing and debate, all of which was inconclusive, I cut it. I felt it weakened Ilsa, despite making her appear tough. When Rebecca saw the film, she thanked me. Despite giving the scene her all, she confessed that she never liked it. She felt the same way I did.

And that is Mission. You know you have the safety net of quality first. It gives you the courage to try things you might not be sure of. Nothing is going in the movie that ultimately doesn’t work for the overall good.

***

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is now in theaters.

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