Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One Review

27 Years in the Making

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One Review
Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One

Brutalist Review Style (Version 2)

Imagine a highly intelligent, self-aware AI capable of rewriting and manipulating any and all information as it sees fit, like a weaponized ChatGPT. That AI “entity” is the big bad of Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, as superspy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team need to find a way to locate and stop this digital threat before its world-conquering potential is put in the wrong hands. However, not only is the entity seemingly always three steps ahead of them, the threat is just as physical as they are digital in the form of Gabriel (Esai Morales), a mysterious figure from Hunt’s past who’s determined to make him suffer, putting the lives of his team in grave danger.

Like Top Gun: Maverick could be taken as Tom Cruise trying to maintain his status as one of the last big movie stars of his time, Dead Reckoning’s battle of Hunt vs AI could also represent the practically-minded Cruise against Hollywood’s CG-ified landscape. And while the idea of a villainous algorithm may initially feel like the series possibly dipping into Terminator-style sci-fi, Dead Reckoning avoids the fantasy elements altogether and feels oddly prescient, both in terms of the conversations around malicious misuse of AI and also unfortunately-recent current events. The first act alone is the most the series has been focused on pure espionage since the first movie.

The cast in Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One once again delivers their A-game. It should come as no surprise that Tom Cruise once again fully commits to his role. Among returning cast members, Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg are every bit as delightful as they have been in the past as IMF members Luther and Benji. Rebecca Ferguson once again steals nearly every scene she’s in as Ilsa Faust, and it’s great to see Henry Czerny return for the first time since the original film as Kittredge, Hunt’s former superior.

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One Review

That being said, the new cast members are all very welcome additions, namely Hayley Atwell and Pom Klementiff being my two personal favourites. Atwell plays Grace, a thief who gets entangled in the IMF’s plans and may have her own secret allegiances. Klementiff—who is having a great year between this and Guardians of the Galaxy 3—shines as Paris, Gabriel’s top assassin and a force of nature in her own right.

“The cast in Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One once again delivers their A-game. It should come as no surprise that Tom Cruise once again fully commits to his role. “

Speaking of Gabriel, Esai Morales delivers a solid performance of Gabriel with an air of menace every time he enters the screen. He isn’t my favourite villain in the series (Philip Seymour Hoffman in Mission: Impossible III still maintains that top spot), but he is definitely one of the more memorable ones. I did also want to shout out the perpetually-underrated Shea Wingham as Briggs, an agent trying to capture Hunt throughout the film. While he doesn’t get much to do compared to the rest of the cast beyond mostly barking orders to his team, he does shine when he is featured.

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One Review

Let’s get the big question mark out of the way: I’m happy to report Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One maintains the high bar of jaw-dropping action the franchise has maintained for the last decade. The fact that the now 61(!)-year-old Cruise is still willing to push his physical limits to this level for the sake of doing cool stuff on screen is as admirable as it is truly insane. 

There are badass shootouts, very close-quarter brawls, and an impressive car chase featured all throughout the film, all of them well-shot by returning director Christopher McQuarrie and cinematographer Fraser Taggert. The big motorcycle jump off a mountain shown in all the marketing is as exhilarating as you would think. That being said, all of those moments pale in comparison to the train set piece that takes up most of the third act. The whole sequence is truly breathtaking, and I mean that almost literally. I hadn’t been that stressed out by a blockbuster setpiece since…Top Gun: Maverick, hilariously enough. 

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One Review

My only major big hang-up is the “Part One” of it all. Between Fast X, Across The Spider-Verse and now this, a lot of blockbusters this year have been dividing their stories in half. While Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One‘s end makes it feel like a more “complete” film than the other two, it’s still half the story when it comes down to it. That being said, I’m very excited to see how Part Two ties it all together.

Seven movies and 27 years since the original, It’s wild that the Mission Impossible movies continue to find new ways to blow our collective minds. While I don’t think Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One tops the near-perfection of Fallout, it speaks to the franchise’s consistently high bar that a movie this good is “only” second or third place. 

Final Thoughts

REVIEW SCORE
Shakyl Lambert
Shakyl Lambert

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