Review: Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning – Part One

Mission: Impossible continues to impress in its penultimate entry.

Ethan Hunt and his crew are still seen as rogues who get the job done. But when an algorithmic AI goes missing and appears to be a threat to global digital security, they might be on their most difficult mission yet.

Directed and co-written by Christopher McQuarrie, who is returning from the previous three instalments, and with our team of Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, and the return of Henry Czerny from the very first film in 1996, this film continues the franchise without missing a beat.
Of course, this is the first of a two part feature that will, supposedly, end the franchise. Does it work as a Part One? How does it stack up with the others?

It should be said that this being a real actual end to the franchise is quite likely at this point. As much as he probably hates to admit it, Tom Cruise is getting old. He is in his 60s now and probably needs to dial back the “hurling himself onto or off of moving vehicles” scenes soon. For what it is worth, and this is subjective, but the Mission: Impossible film franchise has been running strong for nearly thirty years, with only one early slip up. If that doesn’t deserve a two-part send off… who knows what does. It is probably the most consistently performing franchise of that size with seven entries now.

Cruise and Ferguson at one of the many glamorous locations.

What is the mission now? Well, the writers of this screenplay were ahead of the curve it seems, with the McGuffin today being a key vital to the control of a seemingly sentient algorithmic AI. An AI referred to only as “The Entity”, which has infiltrated some of the highest and most secure organizations around the world, but apparently only as a show of force.
Now Ethan and his team aren’t only asked to retrieve the key (which has two parts) before anyone else does, but they are also being hunted down at the same time. As well as the AI having its own human counterpart, an enigmatic man named Gabriel, who was involved in a dark chapter of Ethan’s past.

It is… quite ridiculous, when said aloud. But the film commits to its premise with masterful earnestness. Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is a master infiltrator and spy, his team are incredible saboteurs and tech manipulators. Putting them up against an unseen enemy that literally uses their technology against them, to make them question their own emotional feelings as an algorithm tries to predict their every decision, is quite fascinating! Also, quite scary.

We live in a world of deep fake technology, of voice replication, of AI generation and digital information on people being readily available. Heck, Hollywood is at a stand still during this film’s release because of AI generation. A villain who knows everything about you, and in turn, uses your history against you; using knowledge as an ultimate power, is quite nefarious and unnerving.

Cruise and newcomer Hayley Atwell see the queue at the drive-thru…

The rest of the film is, expectedly, solid action adventure. Unlike a lot of Part Ones (looking at you, Hunger Games: Mockingjay, and Deathly Hallows) a lot happens in this film. We see many different locations, many action sequences that are unique and gripping (looking at you now, Indiana Jones 5) and the colossal run time of 163 minutes is not felt. It flies by.
Even the car chase feels fresh and different from your usual affair. Even having seen the trailer (which gives away a lot of the sequences) it was surprising how exciting some of these action scenes are.

It is also quite a funny film. Perhaps more than its predecessors. Cruise has recently had underlying humour in his films, and this one is no exception. This is a great relief for an audience who may be getting tired of this character always being the centre of attention (and with the aforementioned age issue). The film is a dynamo of progression from start to finish. Plenty of twists and turns.

It is a Part One, however. No matter how good it is, it is still incomplete without its other half. We are left with half-answered questions and ambiguous designs, motivations, and conclusions for antagonists. This will, of course, frustrate some audiences.
Also, this is the seventh movie in an eight movie franchise; perhaps some working knowledge is required. The film flies well on its own merits, but emotional gravitas works best when you know the characters and their histories together.

But as a part one, it is about as complete a movie as you could hope for. Thank goodness the second part is due to release in 2024 (similarly with the Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse movie) so we don’t have to wait long for our answers.

A solid action movie, and definitely recommended.

Additional Marshmallows: Great to see Pom Klementieff go on to something completely different since Guardians of the Galaxy.


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