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Old October 30 2010, 04:13 PM   #44
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Re: Title of new "Mission: Impossible" movie announced

^I'm not sure a big-budget version would be the right way to go. What intrigued me about the original M:I concept was that it played like a really, really off-the-books covert mission. Think about what the pilot episode established. A guy gets a secret message telling him "Welcome back" (suggesting he's a retired intelligence agent returning to the game) and offering him a mission -- offering him, not ordering him ("if you choose to accept it"). He's told he'll have full discretion as to his methods and team members (a line left out in the rest of the series). He's told that if his team is caught, the government will deny knowing anything about them and just leave them out in the cold -- complete deniability. He recruits a team of people who aren't professional agents -- an actor, a model, an engineer, a circus strongman, and in the pilot, a safecracker -- and meets with them in his apartment, not in any sort of government office, to plan out the scheme. What that suggests is that this is an unofficial operation put together for a mission so sensitive and dangerous that the government can't officially have anything to do with it at all. So "the Secretary" (of Defense, probably) makes clandestine contact with a former colleague and asks him to use his expertise in an unofficial capacity to undertake this impossible mission.

I think that's a fascinating concept, and one that was never satisfactorily developed. As the show went on, more and more we saw that the IMF did, in fact, have abundant support from the federal government and local officials, and in the '88 revival series and especially the movies, it was blatantly a subdivision of the CIA. In the third movie, we even saw the team operating out of an office in CIA headquarters and answering directly to its head. Which makes the whole secret message drop and the lines about "should you choose to accept it" and "the Secretary will disavow" totally meaningless.

So I'd love to see an M:I reboot that builds on the potential implicit in the original setup, focuses on the idea of the IMF as an unofficial, garage-band operation. I'd like to see an origin story explaining who Briggs/Phelps/whoever is, where he came from, how he ended up in this position, how he got the idea of recruiting amateurs to help out with an off-the-books spy mission. And why the team members are willing to undertake such a mission. There's a lot of potential there, and I think it would be better explored in a lower-budget, more character-focused film. I've had enough of the blockbuster approach.
Written Worlds -- Christopher L. Bennett's blog and webpage
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