As Mission: Impossible 7 prepares to resume principal photography in London, and with the movie set to film in Poland next April, a story broke recently regarding a planned set piece that was said to involve blowing up a real bridge in the Polish village of Pilchowice. The idea was allegedly met with anger from locals, but now Mission: Impossible 7 director Christopher McQuarrie has written a statement to clarify the situation.

"Last week, a story broke in the press alleging that the producers of 'Mission: Impossible' had asked for permission to demolish a 111-year-old bridge in Poland and that, in so doing, we were destroying a piece of that wonderful country's heritage in the name of entertainment. I've read a lot of inaccurate stories in which I'm named and I normally just ignore them, but in this case I felt it was important to personally clear up some misinterpretations of our intentions, starting with this: There was never a plan to blow up a 111-year-old protected monument."
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Christopher McQuarrie says in his statement that during pre-production the idea was floated to include an action sequence "involving a bridge over a body of water, ideally one that could be partially destroyed." According to the director, it was the Polish government that suggested the use of the bridge, as it has been decommissioned from public use for some time. McQuarrie states that the area is currently undergoing structural updates, and thus parts of the bridge are going to be destroyed eventually anyway.

"Local roads being what they are, their best chance to [promote tourism] rested in revitalizing an outdated rail system," McQuarrie writes. "This included replacing the main decking of the bridge in question, which engineers had deemed structurally unsound. The bridge was not built entirely in 1906 as has been reported. That bridge was partially destroyed by the retreating Germans during the Second World War before being rebuilt (the current bridge is, in fact, one of two very similar ones in the area, neither of which is a protected monument). Bottom line: to open up the area to tourism, the bridge needed to go."

Continuing, McQuarrie writes that the production team agreed "to destroy the already unsafe portions of the bridge that needed to be rebuilt, and not the original stone pilings." McQuarrie adds, "We also had plans to offset any damage the very necessary demolition of the bridge might cause...The people we spoke to were excited by the prospect of our bringing a large film production to Poland and the resources it would inject into the local economy. They were also delighted that we'd be making way for a new bridge that might otherwise not be rebuilt, and might lead the government to revitalize the railroad line."

The drama then ramps up, as McQuarrie claims that the controversy surrounding the explosive bridge sequence was instigated by an unnamed individual who "claimed they were owed a job on the production for which we felt they were not adequately qualified." This individual allegedly harassed crew members on social media and then "misrepresented our intentions" about the bridge.

"In short, this individual manipulated the emotional response of the people in a move that has now compromised our ambitions to bring our production to Poland," McQuarrie writes. "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."

The bridge controversy began when it was reported that the decision had led to local protests, with hopes that the bridge could be protected and preserved as a historical monument. Poland's Deputy Culture Minister Pawel Lewandowski had reportedly agreed to blowing up the bridge saying, "I would not be fixated on the fact that the Pilchowicki Bridge is a monument. It stands in ruins and has no value. Not all old things are monuments. The law clearly states that a monument is only that which has social, artistic or scientific value. In art and culture, that value only emerges when there is a relation between the cultural object and people. So, if an object is unused, unavailable, it has no such value. Therefore, it is not a monument. And only a small part of it will be destroyed during filming."

Gasp-inducing, death-defying action stunts have become a staple of the Mission: Impossible franchise, with headline star Tom Cruise well-renowned for his dedication to pushing himself beyond the requirements of most actors. Hopefully McQuarrie's statement clears things up, and he can now go back to endangering the life of Tom Cruise once again for our entertainment. Whether the movie will still use the bridge following the backlash remains to be seen, but no doubt the seventh Mission: Impossible movie will find all sorts of new ways to blow things up.

Two untitled sequels, one of them being Mission: Impossible 7, are both scheduled to be released in November 2021 and 2022, respectively, with both movies set to be helmed by McQuarrie. Mission: Impossible 7 and Mission: Impossible 8 are expected to be the final parts of Ethan Hunt's story, with McQuarrie teasing ties to the original movie that started it all.

The last entry in the long-running action series, Mission: Impossible - Fallout, was written, produced, and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, and directly followed Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation. The cast includes Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, who we just saw training with a sniper rifle, Sean Harris, Michelle Monaghan, and Alec Baldwin, all of whom reprise their roles from the previous movies, along with Henry Cavill, Vanessa Kirby, and Angela Bassett, who join the franchise.

You can read McQuarrie's full statement over at Empire.

Jon Fuge at Movieweb
Jon Fuge