Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One: The BRWC Review. By Joe Muldoon.
There are certain films, certain franchises, that go beyond being mere movies; they are cinematic events. The latest entry into the acclaimed Mission: Impossible series is one such event. If last year’s Top Gun: Maverick gave cinema a jolt back to life in the post-pandemic recovery era, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One has just given it a strong dose of adrenaline. Every new M:I film sees the ante gradually upped, and with Ethan Hunt’s latest jaunt, staggering new heights are reached.
When you’re at the box office and pick up a ticket to see a film from the franchise, you know precisely what you’re going to get: stunts, chases, thrills – all of these are offered up in great abundance here. Over the past few years, it feels as though blockbusters have been slowly increasing in length, and you’d normally be forgiven for baulking at the 163-minute runtime, but with Dead Reckoning Part One, it importantly doesn’t feel like a long film.
The story is one fans of the franchise will know all too well: Ethan Hunt and his motley team are tasked with retrieving two pieces of a key that grants the holder access to a terrifyingly advanced rogue AI ominously known as ‘The Entity’. As is to be expected, several world superpowers are desperate to gain possession of this key, and Hunt’s team is hunted down by very capable foes, themselves seeking to intercept it. Naturally, Hunt’s mission –as he chose to accept it– is far from straightforward.
Joining the franchise is newcomer Grace (Hayley Atwell), a crafty pickpocket who, after unwittingly gatecrashing a retrieval mission that goes awry, finds herself joining Hunt and becoming snarled up in the deadly hunt for the key. Returning to comprise Hunt’s team are beloved franchise regulars Luther (Ving Rhames), Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson), and Benji (Simon Pegg), all of whom bring a familiar quasi-familial (and sometimes comedic) warmth to the affair.
Though Esai Morales is superb as the viciously sinister Gabriel, I think it’s Pom Klementieff who particularly shines as the enigmatic antagonist Paris. Having more than earnt her stripes here, I feel very comfortable arguing that Klementieff would make for an excellent action star – perhaps a standalone series or role in the John Wick franchise could be in the pipeline? The only particularly lamentable aspect of her character is her relatively low screentime, but this simply makes me cherish the time she did have onscreen.
It’s somewhat prophetic that Dead Reckoning Part One voices deep concerns for AI and its unfathomably destructive capabilities, should it fall into the wrong hands. AI discourse has crept its way into most facets of life, including into the film industry itself. With the petrifying rise of deepfake technology (which franchise lead Cruise knows all too well) and studios nefariously experimenting with replacing humans with AI writers, it’s quite apt that this film has reached our screens when it has, with this topic.
Tom Cruise has always been a megastar, but Dead Reckoning Part One may very well have established him as the ultimate action star, and he shows no signs of slowing down. Cruise was 57 when initial shooting commenced, and 59 when it eventually wrapped. Whilst I sit writing this review at age 23 with a depressing amount of white hairs and a dodgy back from a sedentary work-from-home lifestyle, Cruise insists upon performing some of the most awe-inspiring death-defying stunts committed to film. If ever there’s been a compelling case for the Academy Awards to create a long-overdue Oscar category for Best Stunt Work, it’s the work that Cruise put into this performance.
Christopher McQuarrie’s most recent directorial excursion (and third contribution to the series) has taken the action genre maybe as far as it has ever been. John Woo (who also directed Mission: Impossible II) gave us grit, Michael Bay gave us explosions, Kathryn Bigelow gave us conflict; Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One has given us a potentially epoch-defining spectacle, transcending traditional action cinema. With exhilarating chases, intense fight sequences, and an utterly nail-biting finale, a clear message has been sent – action blockbusters are back, and you’d best stay tuned for next summer to do it all again.
By Joe Muldoon.
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