Brian De Palma’s Mission: Impossible spawned one of the biggest movie franchises ever, and now the first film seems like it’s from a different time and place compared to the newer films. The first Mission: Impossible is one of the most influential spy movies ever, with all its cool behind-the-scenes facts and iconic action set pieces that star Tom Cruise struggled to pull off. It seems some advice De Palma received from his friend George Lucas majorly influenced Tom Cruise’s original Mission: Impossible.
Having other great filmmakers as friends is a good thing when you are a great filmmaker yourself. Brian De Palma and George Lucas have famously weighed in on each others projects and now we've learned Lucas even gave the other director some great advice on Mission: Impossible. In fact, it really impacted the movie resulting in what we eventually got. On the Light the Fuse podcast, De Palma discussed the advice George Lucas gave him after he showed the Star Wars director a cut of the film, saying:
When George saw Mission: Impossible you know he said, ‘There’s no setup to this thing. You’ve gotta set this thing up! You’re gonna do this, you’re gonna do that, you gotta have that scene where they’re all sitting around the table and everybody gets their instructions about what’s gonna happen. In the beginning we had this very strange scene – it’s hard for me to remember now – with [Jon] Voight and somehow the jealous thing with the wife and Tom, and then we got into the first mission. And when George saw the movie it’s the first thing he said, ‘What are these people doing? This is Mission: Impossible, it’s a group of guys going to do something! So you’ve gotta get them all around a table and tell the audience what they’re supposed to do,’ and that’s what we did. We went back and reshot it. So that’s an example of us helping each other.
Brian De Palma says he showed George Lucas what he had, and the first thing George said was that he needed to set things up. If you've seen the flick, the setup to the various missions in the film where everything is laid out for the audience is integral and leads to some of the drama and anticipation surrounding the set pieces.
Brian De Palma says the scene that made George Lucas give him the advice is the one featuring Jon Voight’s character being jealous of Tom Cruise getting close to his wife. Following the change, the love triangle theme between Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt and Jon Voight’s character is still a big part of the movie, but De Palma says her took the advice and tweaked it after Lucas’s suggestion.
The director says it was for the betterment of the film and resulted in a more precise narrative for the audience to follow. He also noted that over his career he and his director pals have often commented on each others' work and that has led to plenty of changes. De Palma himself famously helped George Lucas to change the Star Wars crawl.
The Mission: Impossible franchise is going stronger than ever, though its story is complicated, and you wouldn't be alone in struggling to keep tabs on it. Luckily, there is a complete rundown of Ethan Hunt’s story from the first film through Fallout. It’s incredible to think of where the franchise started and where it is now, and how the DNA from the first film is still there despite the scope and scale being so much bigger.
The latest film in the franchise, Mission: Impossible 7, had to shut down filming due to Covid-19 protocols and has dealt with some struggles during production, but hopefully, the film isn’t delayed any more than it already has been. Fans will have to wait for more brutal stunts and intense action set pieces, but they can pass the time by rewatching the franchise from its humble beginnings.