Robert Towne wrote Chinatown, a script widely believed to be a masterpiece. He also wrote Mission : Impossible 2. Is there any evidence that his original script was reworked (maybe to Tom Cruise's ego?) to make the movie so blah? Maybe some people like it, but mostly, it seemed like a flop.

Did the studio or producers alter a good script, or is this close to what was intended? Was it already sub-par?

This is not about script doctors or alterations in general, but about this project specifically. Did the studio or producers change the script during production?

I am NOT asking for opinions. I want to know if the script was changed against Towne's will (or with his blessing)? Is the movie as we know it what he wrote? I am not after opinions. Just verifiable facts with sources.

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    Why would studio/producers alter a good script? Not a sarcastic comment. Genuinely interested. – KharoBangdo Nov 8 at 5:29
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    @KharoBangdo - If an ego-driven superstar, who represents hundreds of million, if not billions of dollars in revenue for a studio said "this script isn't enough about me," it gets changed. If some studio exec or producers has a brilliant masterpiece on their hands, and they have utterly no vision, themselves, it will get changed. If they don't know or care about the story, but have some tropes they think a movie needs, they will try to change it. thenerdybird.com/… – PoloHoleSet Nov 8 at 19:22
  • I completely understand the downvotes, but still wanted an answer. I got a couple. And thank you @PoloHoleSet for your comment. – Meat Trademark Nov 9 at 3:10
  • @MeatTrademark I'm not saying this question is questionable, it's a good question. but in my pov, it'll be a way better question if you can change it up a lil bit, to solely focus on the final script and the script first drafted. ps downvotes are not from me – Vishwa Nov 9 at 6:08
  • I try to seize any excuse I can to link to the story about Bob Weinstein telling Peter Jackson that he needed to kill off a hobbit. ;) – PoloHoleSet Nov 9 at 16:37
up vote 5 down vote accepted

No spy worth his weight in bullets would begin a mission without a thorough briefing. But ”Mission: Impossible 2,” the $90 million spy thriller starring Tom Cruise, started filming without a finished script. What’s more, Robert Towne (the sole writer to receive screenplay credit) says he was making changes to his work during the editing process as recently as two weeks ago.

Source - Entertainment weekly

  • This is exactly what I suspected and I am happy (kind of?) to be proven right. Poor Robert. Not the only time he's been messed with. – Meat Trademark Nov 9 at 3:17
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    @MeatTrademark From the same article it look's like there were more screenwriters previously. I think they bring Towne because of his craftsmanship and as we call in Poland "to make a whip out of shit". – SZCZERZO KŁY Nov 9 at 8:52

According to this interview with Robert Towne he had a rather good working relationship with Tom Cruise (they already worked together before, on the first Mission Impossible and Days of Thunder).

Regarding the script, he said:

... by the time I got involved, there were certain action pieces around which the story had to be written, or, at the very least, the story couldn’t interfere with the action pieces ...

... [John Woo's] action sequences are carefully choreographed. They were there. And the story, at the point that I came along, was not there to support the action.

but

It took three drafts. The first draft was creaky because trying to make the action look as if it flows from character is very hard. It didn’t work the first time, and it didn’t work the second time.

But for some reason the third draft, I remember getting about twenty-five to thirty pages into it and thinking, “Well, I don’t know where we’re going but I know that, at least from my point of view, this is going to work.” And we all felt that this draft worked.

It had a level of—I really don’t want to say reality— but it seemed organic, it started happening. And then suddenly it was fun, and I felt good about it.

He and Tom Cruise actually talked about ideas for a sequel when they did the first Mission Impossible together. Click the link above, and this one, for more info.

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