Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One director addresses choice to have AI as its villain

According to Christopher McQuarrie, Artificial Intelligence is the next big threat to Ethan Hunt and the rest of humanity.

Ethan Hunt will have a new nemesis in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One and it's a timely one if a bit too on the nose and definitely controversial.

Mission: Impossible 7 plays into our fears that AI will one day take over the world.

Christopher McQuarrie, the writer and director for the upcoming Mission: Impossible movie, has decided to tap into one of the rising technological anxieties of audiences in the upcoming Mission Impossible installment. Artificial Intelligence, or AI as it's commonly referred to, has steadily been gaining popularity and with the advent of AI tools like ChatGPT and Midjourney, people are asking if the technology will threaten human existence in the future.

Hollywood has always had a thing for vilifying technology and Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One will be the next blockbuster to feature AI as its main antagonist.

McQuarrie recently talked to Collider’s Steve Weintraub about how AI became the villain in the latest Mission: Impossible film. According to the director, he and the team were looking for a new villain for the franchise and AI was what people were talking about at that time.

Ethan Hunt faces a new AI foe and villains from the past in the upcoming spy thriller.

"Very early conversations, probably the earliest conversations about this were in 2018/2019, and we were looking for the villain, the next threat in Mission," McQuarrie said. "We've done nuclear threats, we've done chemical threats, biological threats, you did the Rabbit's Foot, and God knows what threat that was. In trying to keep it fresh, we were looking outward, and the big conversation I had with Tom [Cruise] very early on was about technology, information technology, and what, now, everyone is talking about is AI."

The director was excited about how the movie is releasing just as the AI revolution is starting. McQuarrie liked Mission: Impossible 7 to Cold War movies preying on people’s fears of World War 3 and the threat of Nuclear weapons.

"When I presented it to Tom, I said, 'Two or three years ago, this idea would have been too intellectual for most people.' We would have been explaining too much of what it was and what I count on from the audience. The thing I liken it to is the Cold War," McQuarrie explains. "When I was growing up, the Cold War was very real, it was a very present thing. We were under the threat, we believed, of nuclear annihilation, that at any point, there could be a war between two or three nuclear superpowers. So when you went to see a Cold War movie, you didn't need somebody to set up the threat of the Cold War, you just felt it. It was something you brought to the movie. So my conversation with Tom was, 'What are people bringing to the movie now? They're not bringing the Cold War, they're not bringing the war on terror, they're bringing something new, and what is it? What's this anxiety?'"

Mission: Impossible 7's AI threat has been likened by its director to Cold War fears in the 1980s.

Ethan Hunt will be taking on an AI weapon that threatens to wipe out humanity and faces villains from his past as he tries to keep the technology from falling into the wrong hands. Hunt will be on a globetrotting adventure as he comes to terms with his past before becoming a super spy. In Mission: Impossible 7, Hunt questions whether the mission is more important than those he cares about.

McQuarrie shares, "I felt, in the zeitgeist, this anxiety about technology and what and how technology was beginning to influence our lives, and how do we take that anxiety that the audience is bringing to the movie and give them a release? That's really what the movie boils down to. When you go to see Top Gun in 1986, the Cold War was a very real thing. That anxiety was something you were bringing to it, and you enjoyed that movie because that movie was telling you that everything was ultimately gonna be okay. You were showing them a way out."

Will AI be the perfect foe for Ethan Hunt? We will know when Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One premieres in theaters on July 12, 2023.


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    1. I know for real. I swear modern Hollywood don't know how to do surprises in film anymore.

Darryl Lara

Darryl has been gaming since the early 90s, loves to read books and watch TV. He spends his free time outside of gaming and books by riding his motorcycle and taking photographs. You can find Darryl on Instagram. Check him out on Steam and Xbox too.
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