Relieved that this summer’s Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One didn’t end with a dramatic cliffhanger that left you feeling unsatisfied and somewhat frustrated at the lack of closure after more than two hours in the theater? Turns out, you have Tom Cruise to thank for that.
Talking to Empire, director Christoper McQuarrie said, “Tom was fixated day and night on the ending of the movie. He had great anxiety about the end of the film – that the end of a ‘Part One’ was going to be a cliffhanger, and that cliffhangers by their very nature tend to be deeply, deeply unsatisfying. You feel like the camera just stopped and you're not there. You're not given that release. ‘I have to wait a year? I have to wait two years, for whatever that release is?’”
McQuarrie continued, “He said, ‘We gotta give them that sense of completion, and yet the story has to feel like it needs a place to go.’”
Unintentionally, that statement feels like a slam against Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse which had a cliffhanger ending which was seen by some as the primary problem of the movie — and arguably one of the only problems with it, in many people’s eyes.
It’s interesting to see how different filmmakers approach the subject of how to create a movie that just… fails to end; it’s something audiences have seen a lot of this year alone, with Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and Fast X all offering half of a story despite runtimes over two hours. (Fast X, like Across the Spider-Verse, notably ends in a dramatic cliffhanger that sets up not one, but two, follow-ups.)
Movie audiences are certainly no strangers to the idea that movies will be continued and stories will flow into sequels and spin-offs — the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe demonstrates that, if nothing else — but if more and more movies are going to start pulling one story into two or more movies, the question of how to do that and still give audiences a fulfilling experience in each individual serving is going to start being more and more of a topic of discussion. Will Cruise’s view hold more weight if this trend continues… Stay tuned.
Wait, is that a cliffhanger?