Analysis of a 10 minute sequence from John Woo’s Missions Impossible 2
A film’s narrative provides the structure through which the story can be told. Narrative acts to organise the events within a film into an order that helps to create meaning for the audience. Within mainstream films, narrative conventions are usually adhered to and offer and predictability of story movement that audience for this kind of cinema expects. Genre conventions function for the audience in a similar way.
Audiences may choose to see a mainstream film because of the film’s star, but they may also use their knowledge of genre conventions to make decisions about which film to see. For the film producer, making sure that a film offers narrative and genre conventions in a way which wills till satisfy, as well as engage, the viewer is important to the film’s eventual financial success. This essay will concentrate on the use of narrative and genre conventions within the first 15 minutes of John Woo’s mission impossible 2 Mission impossible 2 is an example of an action film.
It utilises action conventions such as: the hero’s quest/mission, spectacular stunts and action set pieces, pyrotechnical displays, the physical prowess of the hero and a narrative which sees the hero increasingly isolated in the face of a powerful adversary, but eventually triumphant. John Woo is filmmaker who has explored the action genre before. His spectacular special effects, to the viewer’s expectations of the standard genre piece. Face/off and broken arrow both include these extra John Woo elements. The pre credit sequence of Mission impossible 2 functions as an n exposition sequence.
It established the main character and indicated the problematic scenario that the hero will have to solve by the end of the film. This opening sequence to mission impossible 2 introduces the viewer to both the problematic within the narrative and to the key character who will take part in the events. The sequence begins with a voice over indicating the thoughts of a scientist. “Every search for a hero must begin with something every hero requires, a villain, ” he says, and almost seems to be identifying they key character relationship within an action film, as well as indicating that there will lie conflict ahead in this film. We see this character inject himself with ” chimera” and when he then states that he must ” arrive at my destination himself with ” chimera! And when he states that he must “arrive at my destination with 20 hours of departure” we understand that what he has injected himself with is probably really dangerous, the action film convention of the ” race against time” is also established here and will provide tension and drama throughout the narrative.
The threat to safety and stability that is introduced with in the exposition sequence of an action film is clearly evident within this s sequence in mission impossible 2Cimera; Potential destructiveness is further indicated when the scientist sees a group of children singing ” ring a ring of roses”, a children’s rhyme which dates bate to the time of the bubonic plague. This piece of diegetic sound indicates not only the threat within the narrative, but also implies the hero’s quest: to eradicate chimera.
The next cut within this sequence is to the character played by tom cruise, who is sitting next to the same scientist in a plane. The audience knows that cruise will be playing the hero of the film and assumes that this is a meeting which will help the scientist, is then shown via the take over of the plane by the films’ agents of disruption. the setting within the plane also provides an example of an action convention. Character are isolated and vulnerable when f lying and I attacked, the consequences are dramatic and devastating.
The passenger and real crew of the plane are drugged and the audience now expects tom cruise’s character to save them and the scientist. However, with the aid of computer – generates imagery (CGI) it is now revealed that it is no actual Ethan Hunt (tom cruise’s character) who has been sitting next to the scientist, but Ambrose (played by Dougray Scott), who has been wearing a prosthetic mask. Ambrose kills the scientist and his briefcase, which the audience assumes contains either the chimera virus or its antidote, is stolen.
What has been established is twofold. E audience is now well aware of the villain’s cunning and disregard for innocent human life. They are also aware that the mission of the hero must now begin. The crashing plane then dissolves into a shot of the desert where we then see the real Ethan hunt. Ambrose and Hunt are obviously in different geographical spaces and the progress of the narrative from his point will be to unite them in the same space in order for the conflict to be resolved.
Narrative function to organise time and space and in this sequence and the audience is presented with distance and space between the hero and the villain which is typical of the begging of an action film. The shots of the desert include those that are typical of the action genre, john Woo use a combination of log shots and close up in order to present the spectacle of the place but also the dangerous climb Ethan hunt is undertaking. Within Action films, the hero is conventionally represented as an extremely physically capable. Ethan Hunt is rock climbing.
He is climbing with no ropes, no help and in an environment that is isolating and extremely hazardous. The audience sees Ethan taking risks (jumping from one rock face to another and dangling form ledges) and enjoying doing so, The exposition sequence of an action film must establish the ” credentials” of both the hero and the villain. We know that Ambrose is cunning and ruthless and from this sequence focusing on Ethan Hunt, we know that he enjoys taking risks, is physically capable and fearless. The audience is being encouraged to trust him in his role of hero and opponent of Ambrose.
The iconography and mise en scene of this sequence of Ethan Hunt also helps establish Mission impossible 2 as and action film. Tom cruise ‘s character wears a physique revealing outfit; his mission arrives via rocket fires from a helicopter mad it is stored in a computer inside a pair of sunglasses. Spectacle and scale are important conventions within action films because they excite the viewer and engage their interest, the canyon in which Ethan is climbing is vast and the technologies attached to his message are advances.
These element seems to promise spectacular stunts and physical displays within the rest of the film, and the fact that the viewer already knows that this is a John woo film only serves to emphasis this promise. The non-diegetic soundtrack contributes to the high octane action feel . it is dynamic orchestral and dramatic. As Ethan hunt learns of his mission, the viewer become more aware of two other conventions the action genre, we learn that Hunt is a special agent and that if he is caught or killed, t he secretary will ” disavow any knowledge” of his action>< he is s member of an elite group, and as such will have more specialised skill.
His situation could also become even more precarious because his mission is top secret. As with films such as the Bourne identity, the audience understands that the hero’s mission will be hazardous and isolating, but that the hero has the kind of maverick tendencies and advanced skills that will ultimately make them successful, part of hunt’ mission is also to recruit Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandie Newton) and the love interest, w which is again common convention of the action genre, is establish.
This opening sequence from mission impossible ” clearly utilities action conventions and those narrative convention that are typical of the action genre. As a sequel the first successful) mission Impossible film, this one has a pre existing audience to tap into and can draw it audience from action film fans, fans of the first film and those of Jon woo or tom cruise. Mission impossible 2 is in many ways a ” perfect” example of a blockbuster. T includes many element s that could help it secure the producer’s finical success.