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Credit: Paramount Pictures

Mission: Impossible needs 2 movies to tell Ethan Hunt’s ‘emotional’ story, says Christopher McQuarrie

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May 14, 2020, 9:52 AM EDT

When the all-clear sounds from the coronavirus pandemic and filming gets underway once more on the next two installments in the Mission: Impossible franchise, at least we know we’ll be getting director Christopher McQuarrie’s full vision.

Speaking with Light the Fuse, a podcast devoted to all things M:I-related for its 100th episode, McQuarrie said recently that he and Ethan Hunt actor Tom Cruise were deeply invested in the story McQuarrie had come up with for the sequel to Mission: Impossible — Fallout; so much so that they began to realize there was no way to tell it in just one film.

“When we went into making Fallout, I said to Tom, 'I really want to make this more of an emotional journey for [Hunt],’” he explained. “…Going into this, I said, 'I want to take what we learned from Fallout, and apply it to every character in the [new] movie. I want everyone to have an emotional arc…[But] we realized we had a movie that was two hours [and] 40 minutes long — and every scene in it was necessary.”

That means the followup to Fallout needed room to breathe, so McQuarrie and Cruise arrived at the inevitable decision to give the story not one, but two films’ worth of space. After all, when things get personal for Ethan Hunt, the action has a tendency, as it did near the end of Fallout, to slow down and zoom in on its main character.

Fallout hit closer to home for Ethan Hunt than any of the Cruise-starring M:I movies that’ve preceded it, as Hunt reunites with his former wife (played by Michelle Monaghan) just long enough to distantly glimpse a normal life that his work can never afford him — while dragging behind him a danger she shouldn’t have to face.

McQuarrie didn’t touch on where the emotional punches are being pulled from in the next two films, which are being shot back-to-back, but he did discuss a couple of enticing tidbits about other characters — including the long-awaited return of Eugene Kittridge (Henry Czerny), who’s not been seen since the first movie all the way back in 1996 — as well as a potential mystery star, “an incredibly exciting casting coup” with whom negotiations were in progress before the pandemic shut down production.

To M:I fans’ possible sadness (or perhaps relief, depending on their tolerance for Cruise’s fascination with high-flying risk), the two new films aren’t the ones that have recently generated tons of buzz as the place where Cruise plans to make movie history by filming the world’s first-ever fictional scene from space.

“What is happening in 7 and 8 is so insane that we don't need to go to space,” quipped McQuarrie. And after that bonkers high-altitude, low-open (HALO) airplane jump that Cruise shot for Fallout, that’s all the assurance we need to tide us over for wherever Mission: Impossible 7 wants to take us next.