March 3, 2024

Film Review: Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

4 Stars
By Joseph Beyer | July 22, 2023

Should you choose to accept the mission, before you rush out to see the seventh installment of Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible franchise, you’ll need to clear your schedule for the 2 hour and 43 minute film (and more in 2024 if you’d like to see the second part finale).

It’s all part of a monumental effort to bring you back to the big screen, and Cruise himself seems intent on trying to save the motion picture industry, seeing no other option than to go rogue like the Ethan Hunt character he’s been playing now for almost 30 years. As the key M.I. creative, Cruise is star, stuntman, producer, and keeper of the flame for the last generation of movie stars known by their real names and not the comic book characters they play.

And in the short term at least, it seems to be working. Dead Reckoning is having the best M.I. opening to date, with over $80M in box office receipts during just the first five days of its release. Cruise’s enthusiasm for “mass entertainment” is, in fact, bringing audiences back.

Based on the characters created by Bruce Geller in 1966, the original Impossible Mission Force (IMF) formula remains largely the same: A secret, elite force for good takes on assignments only if they are impossible and have the more-than-likely outcome of saving the world. And for those who adore Cruise’s slow-squinting twinkled eyes, dramatic jaw clenching, and absurd confidence in the face of danger, you will not be disappointed.

Is it all worth it again? This familiar journey of motorized chases, aerial feats, and characters who look ridiculously good doing epic things where they never even break a sweat?

For this critic, the answer was reluctantly, “I guess so.” Because what else is there anymore that lets you feel like a night out at the movies is worth it? So intent is this desire by Paramount Pictures that at the screening I attended, the staff gave out full color posters and IMF tchotchke pins on the way out—possibly to juice the Tomatometer but definitely as a heartfelt thank-you from the studios for remembering how to attend a large-format film in the first place.

While I realize I’ve told you precious little about the story, it’s also because there is truly precious little you need to know for this experience. You will be entertained by action sequences, interstitial moments of comedy from characters reduced to background, and adolescent abstractions about the future controlled by a God-like artificial intelligence entity that has taken over our digital grid and is now the world’s most dangerous weapon. Of course it’s destined to fall into the wrong hands…unless the IMF team can stop it.

The AI enemy starts as an interesting premise for an interesting time, but truly is just a conventional villain disguised as a hard drive. The tactics for avoiding The Entity are to go analog and stay off the grid, forcing the CIA and other governments to run their intelligence gathering through closed-systems and outdated technologies with just enough processing power to give them a fighting chance.

Sure, some might feel the film is a bit redundant, predictable, and worn out (although it’s definitely the year of upside down and vertigo-inducing train escapes, and I’ll say no more). But for those who will always be Tom Cruise fans, this mission might be just what you’re looking for in the movies … a perfect compliment to go with your popcorn.

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