Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One Review: Cruise Stuns in Sizzling Set Pieces

Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning part one

Rating: 4 out of 5.
It’s higher stakes than ever for superspy Ethan Hunt in Dead Reckoning Part One – the seventh instalment in the Mission Impossible franchise

I’m so thankful that as film buffs we seem to be passed the time where it’s not ‘cool’ to like blockbusters, because when the one of the biggest action franchises of the last 30 years returns with its highest budget film to date, you can bet your ass I’m excited about it and you should be too. Dead Reckoning Part One sees the return of Tom Cruise for his seventh outing as Ethan Hunt, the first in a two-parter that serves as a swan song for the deadly secret agent. Part two – Mission Imposible’s final chapter – is expected next year.

Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is joined again by his IMF support team Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames, the only other actor to appear in all seven MI movies) alongside rogue agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) who first teamed up with the gang in 2015’s Rogue Nation. Dead Reckoning sees the addition of certified Marvel superheroes Hayley Atwell and Pom Klementieff as Grace and Paris, two hard fighting women of questionable allegiances – plus Esai Morales as shadowy villain Gabriel.

Hayley Atwell and Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning - Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.
Hayley Atwell and Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning – Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.

After years of ups and downs with both his own agency and the government he serves, Hunt finds himself fighting what seems like the whole world in a desperate race to gain control of an evil AI that threatens global security – it’s more than a little reminiscent of the Avengers villain Ultron, because what sentient AI wouldn’t take one look at humanity and think ‘screw it, I’m gonna cause chaos.’

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Hunt and his band of disavowed misfits embark on a glamourous globetrotting journey to find a missing key that will help to bring the AI down. Impressively for a film that ends on a ”to be continued,” Dead Reckoning Part One manages to feel like a complete film of its own – focusing entirely on the key and leaving the thing that it unlocks for part two. While previous two-parters have struggled to escape the fact that part one is just exposition for part two, there’s enough bombastic content here for audiences to feel like they’re getting a satisfying story, cliff-hanger or no.

Esai Morales and Tom Cruise fight atop a moving train in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning - Part One
Esai Morales and Tom Cruise fight atop a moving train in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning – Part One

You can expect bucketloads of everything that you’ve come to love about the Mission Impossible franchise. Where 21st century Bond got too serious, Mission Impossible recognises and has fun with the silly aspects of cinematic spycraft that have made this universe beloved. The gadgets are absurd, the characters have A LOT of fun with the iconic rubber masks that enable them to impersonate bad guys and finally, FINALLY someone makes a joke about what a ridiculous name ”Impossible Mission Force” is for an intelligence agency.

And the stunts, oh my the stunts. There truly is no one in the business like Tom Cruise (honestly, how are these productions getting insurance?) and once again he pushes his body to the absolute limit in the name of big action set pieces. Car chases and punch ups are the least of it as we get to see actual Tom Cruise jumping motorcycles off mountains, parachuting out of planes and speed flying down sharp cliffs. The final set piece, which saw the production team crash a real 70 ton train off a bridge and into a quarry, is captured in gravity defying detail and may even be better that Mission Impossible Fallout’s epic helicopter sequence.

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Tom Cruise takes on a death defying stunt in Mission Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One
Tom Cruise takes on a death defying stunt in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning – Part One

It’s a little long at just under 2hr45 and the plot feels a little overstuffed with too many characters – I completely failed to realise that Gabriel is a new character and just assumed I’d forgotten him from earlier movies – but it really doesn’t matter in the end.

The twists and turns, the bait and switches, the complicated backstories are all just decoration to give a little substance to the impressive action and I don’t say that as an insult – who needs boring old substance when you have insane spectacle? No one else is making movies like this, and once Tom Cruise hangs up his tuxedo and rubber mask, I fear that no one else will.

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