Christopher McQuarrie on the Two-Part Challenges of Dead Reckoning

Splitting films into multiple parts is still a fairly recent phenomenon, and 2023 has multiple “Chapter One” movies playing in theaters. In addition to Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the first movie in Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon saga is coming in December, Fast X was its own “Part One” back in May, and next month will see the release of Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning Part One.

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Speaking to IGN and Collider during the film’s premiere, writer/director Christopher McQuarrie talked about some of the challenges that come with making a multi-part movie. Prior to Covid, Dead Reckoning was originally meant to be shot back-to-back, but according to him, one of the bigger issues was stopping production on one film in order to focus on the other part. “There was the challenge of stopping in the middle,” he said, “not even knowing what the full movie was, and trying to predict what it was in the second film.” Because of factors like an actor’s availability and the weather, for example, “certain things” in Part Two required Part One production to be stopped.

Production on Part Two began in March 2022, and is set to start back up again one the production circuit for Part One has fully ended. By McQuarrie’s own admission, he still hasn’t entirely locked down the ending, saying he and longtime collaborator Tom Cruise tend to figure things out as they go along. “Tom and I never obsess about executing the plan,” he said. “I could tell you that I know what the end of Part Two is, but I can’t guarantee that that will be the ending when we get there. […] We always have a direction, we always have a place we’re going.”

Splitting Dead Reckoning into two parts wasn’t originally McQuarrie’s plan, but naturally, it apparently became “so big”—bigger than 2018’s Mission: Impossible—Fallout, even—that all the moving parts and players couldn’t fit into a single movie. He chalked that up mainly to the characters: the movie has a larger cast than earlier installments, and he wanted each of them to have a sizable part to play in the story. It wasn’t in response to a trend, he said, but because it has “a lot of characters, a lot of action. […] It wasn’t just that the story was bigger but that we wanted more emotion in the movie.”

We’ll see how that claim holds up when Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning arrives in theaters on July 12, with Part Two currently slated to come out on June 28, 2024. Look for our review of the first film closer to release.

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