SPOILER ALERT: This story discusses the ending of “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One,” currently playing in theaters.
“Dead Reckoning,” the seventh installment of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, is the latest Hollywood blockbuster to be split into two movies, but Tom Cruise and writer-director Christopher McQuarrie tried their hardest to give “Part One” a non-cliffhanger conclusion. The filmmaker recently told Total Film magazine that thinking about how to conclude the first of two movies kept Cruise up at night during the filming of “Part One.”
“Where we ended the movie was always where we were going to end it,” McQuarrie said of the train action sequence. “How we ended the movie was a big, big mystery for us. It kept Tom awake at night throughout production. He would come in all the time and say, ‘This can’t be a cliffhanger, it’s got to be satisfying.’ The audience has to feel a sense of completion.”
McQuarrie continued, “Tom kept looking at that scene, and he had all this anxiety about whether or not it would be a satisfying conclusion or whether it would feel open-ended. We constantly revisited it, constantly refined it.”
Unlike “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” which threw moviegoers a curveball by ending on a massive cliffhanger (its second part, “Beyond the Spider-Verse,” arrives in March 2024), “Dead Reckoning Part One” ends with Cruise’s Ethan Hunt achieving his immediate goal (he secures the key to unlock the source code of The Entity, the film’s villainous AI program) and Hayley Atwell’s Grace accepting an offer to join the IMF. There are dangling plot threads for “Part Two” to pick up (chief among them being that the film’s human villain, Esai Morales’ Gabriel, is still alive), but at least one mission has reached its definitive end. This is a far more conclusive ending than “Spider-Verse,” which leaves viewers hanging as Miles Morales is stuck in an alternate universe with the Prowler-version of himself.
“If you leave it with a cliffhanger, it feels a little bit like we’re expecting you to come back,” McQuarrie told Total Film. “We didn’t want that feeling. The feeling we were reaching for — and we hope you feel — is we dare you not to come back. We want to leave you thinking, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to see what happens next.’”
“Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” is now playing theaters nationwide from Paramount Pictures. “Part Two” is set to open on June 28, 2024.