How to Craft a Mission: Impossible Action Sequence

Chris Tilly

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is about to hit screens, and features multiple amazing action set-pieces. So while recently catching up with Rogue Nation scribe Drew Pearce, we asked how a writer goes about putting together such a sequence.

Think About Scary Sensations

Drew Pearce: “I think the best way of looking at Mission: Impossible set-pieces is looking at what is the most viscerally scary sensation. Like the Burj [Khalifa] is pretty unassailable — no pun intended — as a concept. And that’s for example how I came up with the underwater sequence. Which [writer-director] Chris McQuarrie then augmented and ran with. I was like ‘What are the other sensations that you can feel in the cinema?’ And one of them I think is that idea of running out of breath underwater. I think there’s a real anxiety that comes with that. I think that’s always a good place to start.”

It’s All About Pressure and Momentum

Pearce: “I also think what’s interesting about Mission: Impossible… weirdly in an ideal world, I think, Tom [Cruise] talks about the fact that Mission: Impossible movies are different from other spy movies because they’re just about pressure. The pressure starts tough, and the movie gets crushed and crushed and crushed. The character gets crushed and crushed and crushed. And it’s all about never taking your foot off the break.

“I think if there was a world where he could do one two-hour sequence where each of the things folds into another, then he would. I think the best Mission sequences aren’t just one sequence. They’re like four. Burj Khalifa is the sting in the elevator, it’s climbing the outside, it’s the incoming storm, it’s the foot chase and the car chase at the end. It’s five sequences in one.”

Drew’s new film Hotel Artemis hits UK screens July 20, while Mission: Impossible – Fallout is out July 25.

Chris Tilly
FANDOM Managing Editor in the UK. At this point my life is a combination of 1980s horror movies, Crystal Palace football matches, and episodes of I'm Alan Partridge. The first series. When he was in the travel tavern. Not the one after.
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