Over the past few months, controversy has been brewing about the production of Mission: Impossible 7 attempting to destroy a historical bridge in Poland. Details are murky at best, but in recent weeks more mainstream media outlets had picked up on the story, pushing it to the forefront of the conversation and proving an unwanted headache for a production that had to vacate Italy in the early days of the coronavirus epidemic and has yet to resume. (But it’s still targeted for its November 17, 2021 release date.) Well, Mission: Impossible 7 writer/director Christopher McQuarrie has explained the situation in a letter to Empire. And it turns out things are a lot less scandalous than originally implied.
As McQuarrie plainly states, “There was never a plan to blow up a 111-year-old protected monument.” There was an early sequence, undoubtedly storyboarded by the great Mark Bristol, that included a sequence where part of a bridge was destroyed. The production, always striving for realism and a minimum amount of digital effects, were reached out to by representatives from Poland, who had just the bridge. It was a disused railroad bridge that had fallen into disrepair; it needed to be destroyed so a new bridge could be built and service the area with much-needed tourism. Plus, the bridge was over a manmade lake (used for hydro-electrical purposes), so their environment impact could be kept to a minimum. Poland was happy. McQuarrie and Tom Cruise were happy. And we’d get to see part of a bridge blow up real good.
But what would a Mission: Impossible story be without some duplicitous treachery?
“One individual, for reasons I cannot specify without revealing their identity, claimed they were owed a job on the production for which we felt they were not adequately qualified,” McQuarrie wrote. “When this individual’s demands were not met, they retaliated.” And boy howdy did they. This person started a campaign to undermine the production and draw attention to the supposedly irreplaceable bridge. (Full disclosure: as a co-host of Light the Fuse, the only podcast exclusively dedicated to the Mission: Impossible franchise, this person had been harassing us for months.) Eventually, their campaign of disinformation gained traction. “They even tried to have this condemned, unsafe and unusable bridge landmarked in the hopes of preventing it from ever being removed and rebuilt (which we understand would be to the detriment of the area’s economic needs). Then they reached out to us to gloat about it,” McQuarrie explained.
From the sounds of it, they’re still going to try and destroy a bridge, and hopefully it’ll still be in Poland. We can only hope.
“Mission: Impossible is and always has been a global franchise – one that takes great pride and pleasure in visiting other countries to celebrate other cultures (and, with everyone’s kind permission, occasionally make a bit of cinematic commotion). We would never under any circumstances dream of intentionally causing harm to the cultural or historical landmarks we visit, and take great pains to protect those landmarks we feature. To respect and celebrate the places we film is our prime directive. No one involved in the production asked for permission to destroy a historically significant landmark in Poland,” McQuarrie said. Then, later: “Of course, we’re also happy to get rid of any condemned bridges that might be lying around. Waste not, want not, after all.”
So hopefully, when Mission: Impossible 7 finally makes its way to the big screen, some bridge – any bridge! – will be blown to smithereens.