Even after the release of 2018's Mission Impossible: Fallout, many fans continue to argue that Rogue Nation is the strongest of the series. With its breathtaking locations, intense fight scenes, spectacular stunts, and the introduction of Sean Harris as intimidating villain Solomon Lane, the film has given fans of the Mission: Impossible series everything they could want in a spy flick. Pulling the film over the edge, though, is the memorably tense climax, involving a standoff with Lane as Simon Pegg's Benji Dunn has a bomb strapped to his chest. It's a satisfyingly thrilling end to a film - but it could have gone much differently.
In an interview with the MLI-centric podcast LightTheFuse, McQuarrie speaks about the climax of Rogue Nation, and tells the hosts that Cruise himself dictated the execution of the final product. McQuarrie, while on a call with the podcast hosts, Cruise, and editor Eddie Hamilton, recalls how the ending sequence was failing with test audiences until Cruise made a suggestion to restructure the score, and thereby the film itself. Read the full excerpt below:
The first cut of Rogue Nation… the audience in the first tests were saying it felt like the movie had five endings. And the response to those notes was, ‘Well, you gotta cut out some of the business at the end.’ And Tom said, ‘No no no, just listen to the music. Every scene with the temp score, it’s, duh-duh! And it feels like the movie’s over.' And he said to Joe Kramer, ‘Just write a 20 minute piece that plays through the entire last two reels, like it’s one sequence.' And the [test] score shot up, and all the notes went away.
This detail from McQuarrie is another piece of evidence that Cruise has become an instrumental force in the success of his own movies. Even in the past few years, stories from the Mission: Impossible 7 production have made it clear how hard Cruise works to ensure a great product, right down to berating crew members for not following COVID-19 protocols. In the past few months, he has been both the main cheerleader of the long-awaited Top Gun: Maverick and one of the reasons why audiences made the film one of the biggest successes of the summer for Paramount.
Therefore, if Cruise has the power to bring audiences back to theaters in droves, he can certainly dictate the score of the last reel of a movie. Cruise has already begun hyping up Dead Reckoning Part 1 as the best of the series, and is making sure that, even into his sixties, he can still do incredible stunts in order to deliver breathtaking cinematic experiences. There may even be elements of the next two Mission Impossible films that Cruise himself made possible by suggestion. If this is the case, and the future of blockbuster cinema is paved by stars using their best instincts to assist their films, hopefully the sequels will be as well received as the ending of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.
Source: LightTheFuse Podcast