Monday, November 10, 2014

TODAY'S NUGGET: Mission Impossible (1996) - Opening an Action Film

[Quick Summary: IMF agent Ethan Hawke goes after the elusive "Job" who killed his teammates.]

How do I convey, "This is an action film!" (without saying so)?

Let's examine this opening scene (p. 1-2):

- Jack is inside a hotel room closet in Kiev.
- On a small tv, he watches surveillance of two men in the next room.
- One man (Anatoly) interrogates a sobbing man (Kasminov).
- There's a dead woman on the bed.

Up until this point, this could be a thriller or a drama.

Then on p. 2:

"JACK, impatient, checks his watch.

JACK: Jesus, she's been under too long. Come on, come on!"

A-ha! Jack, and others, are in on the con.

Notice that this is p. 2, and we're moving fast, i.e., action-y pacing.

More clues:

- Jack's concern re: the woman = Urgency
- Anatoly's physicality hurries things up
- Genre words: "bare bulb", "blood", "shabby room"

WHAT I'VE LEARNED:  An action opening has suspense, much like a thriller, but its pacing is often quicker (urgency, dire consequences).

Mission Impossible (1996)
by David Koepp & Robert Towne

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