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Christopher McQuarrie: What the Director Learned After Meeting the Critic Who Wrote the Worst Review of His Career

The "Mission: Impossible – Fallout" director reacted to being attacked in a film review by asking the critic who wrote it to lunch.

Christopher McQuarrie'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation' film premiere, New York, America - 27 Jul 2015

Christopher McQuarrie

Erik Pendzich/REX/Shutterstock

Christopher McQuarrie broke out in Hollywood by winning the Oscar for writing “The Usual Suspects,” but in recent years he’s become known as Tom Cruise’s go-to director. After working with Cruise on “Jack Reacher,” McQuarrie delivered one of the best “Mission: Impossible” movies with 2015’s “Rogue Nation.” Now the director is back in the director’s chair for this month’s “Mission: Impossible – Fallout.” Ahead of the film’s release, McQuarrie took to social media to share a story about his relationship to film criticism.

McQuarrie remembered the negative reviews he got for his 2000 directorial debut “The Way of the Gun,” which starred Ryan Phillippe and Benicio del Toro. But one bad review stood out above all the rest since, for McQuarrie, it was written less an attack on the film but as an attack on the director personally. The director remembered a line in the review that read, “McQuarrie is like an SS Guard trying to build a kinder, gentler concentration camp.”

“It stayed with me for days,” McQuarrie said about the review. “I could not let it go. It was cruel and unfair and completely missed the point of the film. And it presumed to know who I was as a person.”

McQuarrie reacted to the review by deciding to meet the film critic who wrote it. The director wrote to the critic and asked him to lunch.

“I did not argue or rail,” McQuarrie said. “I wanted to understand what he thought I had done. I wanted to know how and why I had failed to make my point. It ended: ‘I offer you this opportunity to stop me before I kill again.'”

The film critic agreed to have lunch with McQuarrie. As they walked to the restaurant, the critic told the filmmaker that he was also failed director. McQuarrie tried to explain his intention with “The Way of the Gun” and admitted it did not come across effectively in his finished theatrical release.

“I walked away having learned something I say often,” McQuarrie wrote. “All angry, bitter, nasty criticisms have the same subtext: ‘You squandered an opportunity that should have been mine.’ I can’t say criticism never bothered me again. But it never had the same power. Angry criticism has even less. Because I have seen the angry critic’s pain.”

McQuarrie’s “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” opens nationwide July 27. Read the director’s full story below.

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