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Review: Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One

Here we are again, deep into a rough summer for studio films after Indiana Jones 5, The Flash, and others have failed to do big numbers, looking to Tom Cruise to save theatres. By all accounts, this "Part One" of the finale for the MI series delivers everything you want and expect from a Tom Cruise production. Teaming up with Christopher McQuarrie again, Dead Reckoning Part One is an adrenaline rush of entertainment that leaves everything else this summer in its dust.

Ethan Hunt (Cruise) has been saving the world and dedicating his life to the IMF for over 30 years. We "live and die in the shadows for those we hold close and those we never meet" is their motto. After nuclear bomb threats and a hoard of baddies, Hunt and the gang now take on a sentient artificial intelligence known as "the Entity." Sure, this is a silly premise but also a fascinating one when applied to the career of Tom Cruise. Like in Top Gun: Maverick, Cruise is wrestling with becoming obsolete. The types of action films he makes, full of practical and insanely dangerous stunts, are rare these days outside of the John Wick series. You can sense Cruise feels a certain disdain for the CGI-laden blockbusters that dominate theaters every year.

Back to the plot, it's paired down here to a simple McGuffen. IMF needs to find the key that will unlock the Entity's source code so they can stop it from taking over the world. Since the Entity can control anything connected to the web, the team has to embrace analog approaches to communication and intelligence gathering, again supporting the argument that the film is lamenting modern filmmaking.

Several parties enter the hunt wishing to own the power the Entity has. Isla Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) begins the film holding onto one half of the key, putting a price on her head. The opening action scene set in a sandstorm sets the expectations for a thrilling ride. Ethan goes to save her, kicking off a globetrotting adventure.

McQuarrie pays homage to Brian DePalma's first Mission Impossible film here. The rubber masks are back in full effect, Dutch angles are used endlessly, and Henry Czerny returns as Kittridge. It all works as does new additions Hayley Atwell and Pom Klementieff. There is also a real such of humor to the film, particularly in a handcuffed car chase through the streets of Rome. The scene is a highlight in the whole series, full of jaw-dropping car stunts and laugh-out-loud wit. Atwell and Cruise have great chemistry and this scene really shows off their screwball-flavored dynamic.

The action is impressive as you would expect here. The Rome car chase isn't the only highlight. The action sequences are given time to play out in what feels like real-time, making sure the audience understands everything that is going on and every decision our heroes make. The whole thing builds to a stunning train-bound finale that also harkens back to the original film. Cruise really does drive a motorcycle off a mountain top. That is just the beginning of one of the more audacious action scenes the series has pulled off.

Since this is Part One, the film doesn't fully wrap up. However, unlike some recent part ones that end in the middle of things, Dead Reckoning Part One finds a satisfying point at which to pause things. I for one can't wait for Part Two.



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