Chances are, this won’t be the first Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning (Part One) review that you’ve encountered online. But hopefully, it’ll be the last.
Last year, Tom Cruise “saved Hollywood’s ass” with Top Gun: Maverick. This year, he’s cementing his status as the world’s biggest movie star with a capital ‘M’ and ‘S’ by championing the virtues of big-screen cinema with Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning (Part One).
As the franchise’s seventh — and potentially penultimate — entry, Dead Reckoning (Part One) is by far the globetrotting spy saga’s most bombastic to date, complete with heart-pumping sequences that include everything from a hilariously drawn-out car chase sequence through the narrow alleys of Rome to an incredibly destructive train ride on the Orient Express. Both of which were, as you’d expect, largely achieved via practical effects.
The story focuses on yet another terrifying near-future weapon that will apparently threaten mankind in the wrong hands — an all-powerful “entity” powered by artificial intelligence capable of hijacking cutting-edge military systems, and quite literally re-writing our digital reality in real-time.
Eyerolls, I know. Bear with me here. The execution of said entity’s portrayal is a lot cooler than it sounds.
Parallel to Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and the IMF team’s efforts to shut down this ChatGPT algorithm on steroids, our daring hero must also confront the shadowy and heartbreaking earlier chapters of his chequered past when the human element of Dead Reckoning’s main adversary presents itself: an imposing terrorist and Hunt’s longtime nemesis, Gabriel (Esai Morales).
It’s at this point we learn the ever-so-debonair Gabriel is canonically the man responsible for Ethan Hunt’s recruitment to the IMF in the worst possible way; having framed the latter for a devastating crime he did not commit.
While Tom Cruise has once again lived up to his reputation, much of the stacked cast’s praise is owed to the newcomers: Hayley Atwell as the seasoned thief Grace, who reluctantly finds herself caught in the middle of the global conspiracy; Pom Klementieff as the laconic French assassin Paris, who movies with the gravitas of the villain’s heavy a la Oldboy; plus the aforementioned Esai Morales as Gabriel.
The trio of fresh faces didn’t just fulfil their end of the physical bargain when it was time to forgo dialogue for a fist fight, but also provided an extra measure of often neglected humanity in the case of Atwell and Klementieff; a very tangible weight in the villain department in the case of Morales; as well as charm in abundance from all three.
I dare say in terms of the can’t-tear-my-eyes-away-from-the-screen factor, their respective performances come a close second to Tom Cruise’s headline-worthy stunts. Yes… even that death-defying mountain bike jump/parachute pull.
Granted, the writing may leave something to be desired, occasionally grinding the story’s momentum to a halt with tired discussions about good/evil, moral redemption, and other unsubtle action genre tropes about the fate of the world — we’re reminded just how corny the entire concept of Mission: Impossible is when Henry Czerny’s former IMF director Eugene Kittridge spells out the acronym (“Impossible Mission Force”) — although it’d be foolish to pretend that’s why we’re here.
Like Top Gun: Maverick before it and James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water, Dead Reckoning (Part One) is a technical marvel that dazzles both visually and, occasionally, on an emotional gut level. Focusing too closely on anything else would be missing the point. You don’t ponder the philosophical implications of skydiving before you jump out of the plane. So why dissect a comparable adrenaline-rich experience with such scrutiny?
As usual, we implore you to find the biggest screen with the loudest speakers available, have a few pints beforehand, and make a night out of it.
Now that you’ve read our Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning (Part One) review, check out out why we believe The Last Samurai is Tom Cruise’s best movie.