7 Things Bollywood Can Learn About Action Film-making From ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’


Spoiler Alert: This article talks about ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ in great length. So, please read it after watching the movie.

Just like every other kid in the 90’s, I’ve grown up watching action movies that my dad loved and those that I was permitted to see. And till date, I remember that terrific T-Rex chase sequence from ‘Jurassic Park’ or Arnold Schwarzenegger starting a riot with a machine gun in ‘Terminator 2’.

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While Hollywood has showcased a variety of action over the years, thanks to the John Wick series or Quentin Tarantino’s dark-comedic style, Bollywood’s quality has degenerated like anything.

So, what are some of the problems regarding how the Hindi film industry treats the action genre as a whole?

The main ingredients that makes an action film interesting are well-choreographed and well-edited set-pieces which further the plot, characters who present stakes during the action sequences, and production design and score that elevates the action. Now, are there any Bollywood movies that do all of these?

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Vidyut Jamwal’s ‘Commando’ has practical stunts which are edited to hell. The ‘Don’, ‘Dhoom’ and ‘Race’ series rely more on the plot and use the action as filler. And while the ‘Singham’, ‘Dabanng’ and every other Akshay Kumar movie have tons of action, they’re rarely memorable or believable due to the over-the-top wire-work.

So, is making a wholesome action movie impossible?

The answer to that is the very existence of the ‘Mission: Impossible’ series, which despite being a hardcore action franchise, has survived for decades and produced its most successful entry in 2018.

Hence, we’ll be looking into ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ and pointing out what it did to become one of the best action movies of all time (in my opinion, of course) for Bollywood to emulate.

1. The plot must’ve a ticking time-bomb element to it.

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From the get-go, Ethan Hunt is looking for one object or other, which if he doesn’t get to in time, will lead to catastrophe. And that creates a never-ending sense of tension that’s beneficial for the action. So, stop stopping for a dance number and get busy creating tension.

2. Getting from point A to point B should be an action sequence in itself.

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Ethan Hunt has to HALO jump into Paris to attend a party. He has to go on a bike chase to reach someone he has captured. He has to run over rooftops to get to his enemy. Do you get the gist? Never make your action hero just walk in slow-mo. Make it an action spectacle.

3. The action should be choreographed to the last bit.

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It took four weeks to perfect the now-famous, hand-pumping Bathroom Fight. And it took about 100 jumps to do that seamless HALO jump. So, go practical and don’t take any half-measures on shoot day and leave it to the editor to cut the scene in a way so that it doesn’t seem like the actors were unprepared.

4.The editor should make the action more clearer to understand.

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According to editor Eddie Hamilton, director Christopher McQuarrie took a very traditional method by planning where to place his cameras and filming it from various angles. But then it was his job to tell a story within those action scenes, while explaining the geography to the audience and the power dynamics between the characters.

5. Include character moments within the film.

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One of the best moments in ‘Fallout’ comes during a tense stand-off between a bunch of goons, Ethan Hunt and a French police officer. And despite the lack of dialogue, McQuarrie successfully shows what Hunt stands for. So, whenever you pause during two action set-pieces, use it to evolve the character through action and not expository words.

6. The cinematography and score should be in synergy with the action beats.

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DoP Rob Hardy and composer Lorne Balfe manage to stand out in a movie with Tom Cruise. How? Because their work supplements the mood of the movie, thereby imprinting the scenes in your mind after you’ve left the theatre. And that’s not possible, Bollywood, if your movies don’t have any score and are shot mundanely.

7. The actor(s) should be ready to go that extra mile.

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Tom Cruise did every single stunt in the movie. He broke his ankle in the process and learnt to fly a helicopter, for crying out loud. And all that effort furthers the realism of the action scenes. So, take that extra jump, throw that extra punch or learn something new so that the audiences can see you on camera, and not the back of a stunt double.

Do you agree with these points? What are your thoughts on ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ and the overall action scenario in Bollywood? And do you think it has any scope of improvement in the near future? Let us know in the comments.

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