Film Review: Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One.
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One.
Director: Christopher Macquarie
Skydance and TC Productions
In Theaters 07.12
After reinvigorating the audiences last year with the viscerally exciting Top Gun: Maverick, Tom Cruise has accepted his mission to save us from the current box office slump once again with Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One.
The seventh big-screen Mission: Impossible installment finds intrepid superspy Ethan Hunt (Cruise) facing off against his most dangerous adversary yet: a weaponized artificial intelligence algorithm known as The Entity. Ethan’s mission is to lead his team, including computer geniuses Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and former MI6 operative Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) to Venice to track down two halves of a key that can be used to gain control over The Entity. Enter Grace (Haley Atwell), a tenacious thief who has one half of the key, making her the figurative key to stopping the rogue robot before it takes control of the entire world’s information networks and causes more irreparable damage than Facebook and Twitter combined.
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One is a pulse-pounding, adrenaline-fueled spectacle that ranks among the most impressively executed major action movies ever made. A car chase through Venice has Ethan and Grace handcuffed together while trying to drive a compact Fiat, frequently switching places as driver, and it eclipses every sequence in 10 Fast and the Furious movies put together. Cruise and Macquarie share a commitment to creating intricate and thrilling sequences that rely as much as possible on jaw-dropping stunts and practical effects, making their work stand apart from any other major blockbusters of the modern era.
Because it’s only half a movie, Dead Reckoning, Part One is even less complete a story than we’re used to with Mission: Impossible. It does benefit from the most clearly defined and coherent plot device to come along in the franchise since the virus in Mission: Impossible 2, and the real-world preoccupations surrounding AI makes the film feel surprisingly relevant. The Entity is easily the most outrageous M:I villain to date, though it’s also the scariest and most memorable. There’s also a heavy nostalgia factor at play here as references to the 1996 original M:I abound, particularly with the return of Henry Czerny as the smarmy CIA chief, Kitteredge.
Cruise is on one of the hottest streaks of his career, and while the 61-year-old superstar has moments where his face is finally starting to show the effects of aging, his unmatched physicality and smoldering intensity are as strong as ever. At well brings a fresh, charismatic presence to Grace and establishes a sparkling chemistry with Cruise. Pom Klementieff (Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 and 3) as a French assassin named Paris may actually outshine them both, getting so much mileage out of her facial expressions and physical energy that she turns a woefully underwritten character into a highlight of the film.
There’s one major complaint I have with the film, and I’m going to give a mild spoiler warning here: Ferguson has been a crucial player in reinvigorating the franchise since Rogue Nation in 2015, and to say that the character gets the short-end of the stick this time around is putting it mildly. A major story choice involving her is unfortunately an infuriating misstep, and it’s the latest example of Marvel syndrome, aka strong female characters being relegated to fodder to give the men some emotional motivation.
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One is a nail-biting action showcase that gives audiences the most bang for their buck of any film this summer. While we’ve seen many variations on this sort of movie before, Cruise wants us to leave his movies feeling like we’ve never seen it done quite like this. To deny that he succeeds is impossible. –Patrick Gibbs