M:I Rogue Nation’s attempted ‘fan service’

Steven Hill as Dan Briggs in a first-season episode of Mission: Impossible. The photo he’s looking at is of M:I creator Bruce Geller.

During the scripting of 2015’s Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, the filmmakers considered using the character of Dan Briggs, leader of the Impossible Missions Force in the first season of the M:I television series.

The source of the information: Christopher McQuarrie, the film’s writer-director himself.

Background: Steven Hill played Briggs in the 1966-67 season of the show. But he was dismissed and Peter Graves came aboard as Jim Phelps for the rest of the series.

McQuarrie relayed the following in a Jan. 12 tweet:

Fun fact: Dan Briggs was in early drafts of Rogue Nation as a long-lost IMF agent.

This concept, like most of our attempts at fan service, collapsed quickly under it’s own weight.

Vague remnants of Dan’s story informed a character that ultimately evolved into Ilsa Faust.

McQuarrie’s tweet was in response to a fan post on Twitter.

Isla Faust was the character played by Rebecca Ferguson. Both character and actress returned in 2018’s Mission: Impossible-Fallout.

McQuarrie currently is in preparation for two more M:I films that will be filmed back to back. They will be released in 2021 and 2022.

The ‘Hunt’ for Bond — M:I connections to 007

Spoilers after second paragraph.

A Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation poster

A Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation poster

By Nicolas Suszczyk, Guest Writer

It is uncertain if Tom Cruise wanted to join the Bondwagon in 1996 when his first Mission: Impossible film debuted, one year after the successful return of James Bond to the big screen in GoldenEye.

But thing is certain: Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, the producer-star’s fifth movie based on the 1966-73 TV series, features a number of connections, intentional or not, with Bond films starring Daniel Craig.

Feel free to omit the over-hyped pre-titles scene of Cruise’s Ethan Hunt hanging of a plane on mid-air that reminds us of what Roger Moore (or one of his stunt doubles) did with Kamal Khan’s plane in Octopussy, or Hunt’s stylish exit shortly after when he activates the parachute attached to nerve gas tanks similar to Bond and Kara’s escape from the Hercules plane in The Living Daylights.

Moments later, a new character is introduced: Hunley, the CIA director played by Alec Baldwin, questioning the IMF’s procedures and asking to a Senate committee for the force’s disavowal. This character is somewhat reminiscent to Mallory, played by Ralph Fiennes in 2012’s Skyfall and now returning in SPECTRE.

Action moves to Vienna, to a performance of the opera Turandot. What is seen here could perfectly be a mash-up between Quantum of Solace and Skyfall, with Hunt fighting one of his enemies and trying to prevent a sniper shooting the Austrian chancellor, all as the play ensues.

Not to mention the shots of Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) preparing her weapon hidden in a clarinet are very similar to those of Patrice doing the same at the Shanghai tower, before shooting his victim.

(Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation may also owe a debt of gratitude to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 The Man Who Knew Too Much, which featured an attempted assassination during a concert.)

M:I Rogue Nation composer Joe Kraemer’s music is somewhat close to “African Rundown,” composed by David Arnold for 2006’s Casino Royale, when a high-speed bike chase comes along between Hunt and Ilsa through the Moroccan roads.

The IMF agent is stopped in a unique way – the woman stands right in front of him. Ethan crashes and falls in order to avoid her, a bit similar to the way Eva Green’s Vesper was tied on the road to make Bond (Daniel Craig) crash his Aston Martin DBS.

Just like in Skyfall, London is also used prominently in the film, including the last action scene that features Jens Hultén, who played one of Silva’s henchmen in the 2012 film. Solomon Lane himself, the villain played by Sean Harris, has a loose connection with Silva by being also a former British agent.

In another scene, the prime minister (actually Ethan Hunt in disguise) menaces MI6’s head Attle (Simon McBurney) with an enquiry, a situation Judi Dench’s M faced in Skyfall, too.

A big wink to the first Sam Mendes’ James Bond film is given right before the closing credits: Hunley, admitting his mistake, asks for the reactivation of the IMF. As the committee reinstates the force, Brandt (Jeremy Renner) addresses him as “secretary,” very much like Mallory becoming M at the end of Skyfall.

REVIEW: Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation's teaser poster

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation’s teaser poster

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation won’t disappoint fans of the five-film, 19-year-old series.

Daredevil stunts, including many performed by star-actor Tom Cruise? Check. Lots of plot twists and turns? Check. Familiar supporting players such as Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames and Jeremy Renner doing their thing? Check.

Whether the movie reaches out to a broader audience (as was the case with previous entries) remains to be seen. Still, Cruise & Co., aided and abetted by screenwriter-director Christopher McQuarrie, keep things fresh enough to hold the viewer’s attention. There’s also a new character played by Rebecca Ferguson to keep both cast and audience guessing.

There are a number of clever bits, including a twist on “The Syndicate,” a mysterious, shadowy group. In the original 1966-73 series, the Syndicate was another name for the Mafia. McQuarrie and co-plotter Drew Pearce devised an interesting twist on the concept, one consistent with darker, more cynical 21st century movies.

One of the best things about the movie is the score by Joe Kraemer. The composer embraces the Lalo Schifrin music template of the original show (which extends beyond the iconic theme). Kraemer comes up with a compelling sound while acknowledging what Schifrin started almost a half-century ago.

Kraemer’s score is somewhat like the musical equivalent of writing a sonnet or haiku. Kreamer follows the M:I template but is also original while using the occasional Schifrin riff. Schifrin even gets a credit in the end titles for one of his pieces of underscore from the series, while the main titles includes a credit for his M:I theme.

For spy-fi fans, there’s enough worth watching. Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation may not break a lot of new ground, but there are enough tweaks on the margin to keep things interesting. GRADE: B.