Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)

Genre: Action and Spy Running Time: 2 hrs. 43 min.

Release Date: July 12th, 2023 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Christopher McQuarrie Actors: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Hayley Atwell, Vanessa Kirby, Pom Klementieff, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Shea Whigham, Cary Elwes, Esai Morales, Henry Czerny, Greg Tarzan Davis

 


 

W

hen a prototype A.I. program, designed for infiltration and deception, goes rogue and begins rewriting itself to become increasingly intelligent, every major world power determines to take control of it for themselves. Combining two halves of a cruciform key will grant the bearer access to the “Entity” – and the ability to shape both the past and the future. When one half of the key is discovered to be in the possession of ex-MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), the CIA offers Impossible Missions Force team leader Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) a chance at tracking down and acquiring the device from his former ally. But one piece is useless without the other; so when professional thief Grace (Hayley Atwell) steals the missing half, and dangerous arms dealer Alanna Mitsopolis (Vanessa Kirby) brokers a trade for the completed apparatus with a ruthless killer from Ethan’s past, the intrepid spy will be forced to once again assemble his team, including Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), to stop the transaction. This time, however, not only will Hunt be presented with an impossible mission, but also an impossible choice: finish the assignment or save the lives of his loyal friends.

“The stakes of this mission are higher than ever.” They are indeed, considering it’s once again a matter of world domination; but they’re also not, since the self-aware artificial intelligence system has already unstoppably infiltrated computers across the continents. This setup is essentially the early stages of “The Terminator’s” judgment day, or, in an eerily paralleling manner, reminiscent of the way “The Matrix” described A.I. figuring out useful ways to manipulate humans. Yet without the clear sci-fi milieu, this non-person villain is the picture’s weakest component – though it does bring in a wealth of henchmen to do its bidding – even if the concept is timely and topical (coincidentally opening with a submarine disaster scene that may strike deeper with the recent media attention paid to the Titan submersible tragedy).

Nevertheless, after offering mere threads of a recap (with six previous films, there’s too much to bother with, save for the briefest of notes on the IMF and its associates), the action ramps up. The story is tremendously simple, never really expanding beyond rescues, chases, and the frequent changing-hands of a key with no known purpose (much like the Rabbit’s Foot from “Mission: Impossible III”), but the filmmakers use this to their advantage. After poking fun at the awkward placement of the IMF amid other governmental agencies, along with the silliness of hyper-realistic masks being used to duplicate character after character (something that was practically ruined by the ludicrousness witnessed in the second film), the action ensures that even with its colossal running time (curious with the admission of this being only “Part One”), the progression of events is surprisingly swift. Unexpectedly, this is a master class in pacing, employing tension and suspense (complemented exquisitely by both Lalo Schifrin’s original theme and Lorne Balfe’s thunderously bassy score) with such effectiveness that it never drags or otherwise overstays its welcome. “Why do we always end up in these situations?”

Although the limitless ease with which hacking, surveillance, and reconnaissance (paired with equally immeasurable resources, predominantly in the super-hi-tech department) are undertaken tends to get in the way of filmic reasonableness, an excellent sense of humor and adventure work to balance it all out. Access to information is the ultimate problem with this franchise (a cheat that comes across as manipulative and random), as so many different parties all seem to acquire the exact same intel (tailor-made face-offs occur too many times to keep track of) – a contrived happenstance often explained away with a line like, “I still have a few friends at MI6.” But what this particular chapter does so well is to orchestrate exceptional instances of adrenaline-pumping chaos – riddled with frivolity – that routinely overshadow the storytelling faults. These moments are bolstered by real destruction (comically excessive at times) and real stunts – something that almost effortlessly surpasses the likes of “John Wick,” even though those movies are known for genuine fighting.

Here, it’s not merely the use of actual vehicles for the innumerable pursuits and wrecks, but the way in which these sequences are designed. With humorous interactions, complex maneuvers across varying terrain, and a triumphant confidence in execution and resourcefulness (regularly supplemented by witty repartee; seeing the heroes succeeding every so often rather than perpetually losing is a surefire way to amplify enthusiasm), the action set pieces are unusually exciting and memorable. The attention to creatively composed moments of conflict and daredevilry truly sets it apart from recent, duller entries into the action genre (including “Kandahar,” “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts,” and “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”). And a few of the best tricks (such as picking the lock on a pair of handcuffs) find cleverly unanticipated solutions.

Though the bulk of the film is one protracted chase after another, perhaps plagued by the gnawing sense that a cliffhanger ending is looming (unlike with “Fast X” and “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” neither of which advertised their abrupt finales with their titles), the adventure is so keenly fashioned that it’s consistently entertaining throughout. Even the conclusion is fitting, despite being only the first half of the story (the last two “Mission: Impossible” entries picked up after each other as if continuations anyway). While so many blockbuster seasons are stuffed with likeminded high-octane endeavors, enough can’t be said about how compelling it is to see real stunts – regardless of whether or not the star performs them himself (all the women characters here are tough, physical, and independent, too, which is notably absent in comparable theatrical efforts). They provide an invaluable boon to the believability of harrowing situations, allowing the utterly impossible to appear somewhat plausible – an amusing notion for the nonstop, slam-bang excitement of this exceptional popcorn flick.

– The Massie Twins

  • 8/10


The Mission: Impossible Franchise


Mission: Impossible (1996)

Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)

Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015)

Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018)

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)