Friday 14 July 2023

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One (Movie Review)

After setting the box office on fire with Top Gun: Maverick last year, Tom Cruise is back in Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One. This time around, he once again steps into the shoes of aging IMF agent, Ethan Hunt, who is on a new globe-trotting mission to save the world from those who would rather see it go up in flames. But having worn those shoes for seven movies spanning almost three decades, one has to wonder if they still manage to fit or if perhaps it is time for him to hang them up for good.

Billed as the first of two halves, the film has Ethan going after the lost keys to a rogue artificial intelligence simply referred to as the Entity. With the ability to hack into any defense system in the world, it soon becomes the target of several competing governments and shadow organizations, each one planning to use it for their own nefarious needs. But when Ethan is faced with an adversary from his distant past, he'll be tested like never before as he pushes himself to do whatever it takes to complete the mission.

The Mission: Impossible franchise has prided itself on thrilling moviegoers ever since the first movie came out in 1996. And with each subsequent entry, Tom Cruise and the various filmmakers involved have found increasingly inventive ways to up the ante. Except things wouldn't really get kicked into orbit until Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, a film that had the Hollywood star scaling the sides of the world's tallest building. And the franchise has continued to soar ever higher ever since, an ascent that would eventually crescendo with the phenomenal HALO jump and other stunts in 2018's Mission: Impossible - Fallout.

So heading into Dead Reckoning Part One, I already had doubts that it could ever manage to match or surpass the highs of the previous one. This is despite following up on news of its production, which was impacted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as watching an extended behind-the-scenes look at its audacious motorcycle cliff jump. And while I feel that the final product didn't indeed match the thrills of the last one, it at least comes with its own bag of tricks, even though some of it did tend to feel like already-explored territory.

We get the usual spy thriller staples like car chases and tense hand-to-hand combat encounters, all of which play out exactly how one would imagine for a film of that nature. But it is how these sequences are shot and edited that helps them feel alive and vibrant. The film is also well-paced for the most part, doling out such scenes at a steady enough cadence to keep most viewers engaged. I did start to feel the length of the movie over time though, especially while it took the needed time to explain the various twists and turns of its ever-evolving plot, and it took some time before the story truly kicked into gear.

But once it did, it never truly lets up until the very end. And with the story being the first of two halves, I was afraid that perhaps they might end it on a cliffhanger without any real resolution to the ongoing conflict. Except I still ended up coming out of it feeling like I had eaten a full meal, which is more than I can say about most other movies that get split in two. A lot of ground was covered in this first half and just enough threads were left unresolved to keep me interested in seeing how the whole thing wraps up next year.

In terms of acting and performance, Tom Cruise proves that he's still got what it takes, pulling absolutely no punches in his pursuit of delivering breathtaking stunts and top-of-the-line action scenes. I had to constantly remind myself that he was now in his 60s as I marveled at his latest feats of physicality. The fact that he is willing to risk life and limb for stunts that typically get put together with CGI in other films goes to show his commitment to the craft and his willingness to do whatever it takes to sell all of it to the audience. That level of dedication is rarely seen in the action film genre and for that reason alone, I hope that the movie gets to experience every bit of success that it deserves.

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One is a solidly-crafted spy thriller that once again serves as a showcase for Tom Cruise as one of the very best action movie stars working today. That it does that while telling a timely, cautionary tale about the dangers of AI in today's society only goes further to add to its overall appeal. And while I felt it didn't quite hit the same level of sheer brilliance as past entries, or even other recent action films like John Wick: Chapter 4, I still feel it is a movie that is very much worth experiencing on the best cinema screen available.


  1. When it comes to spy movies I like the subtler John le Carre types than the last six of these or most of the recent Bond movies. The last three of these especially all kind of blended together in my mind and it sounds like this will just add to this.

    But Tom Cruise is pretty impressive in still being able to do these things at his age. I'm younger than him and I can't even get out of a chair without grimacing.

    1. Lol. I feel your pain. I also understand what you mean as each film tends to feel like more of the same. But it is the quality of the execution in my opinion that help elevate them above other generic spy action thrillers.

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