Today: June 16, 2024

Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1

For nearly 30 years Tom Cruise has been starring in the Mission Impossible films. THIRTY YEARS! Now on its seventh film, Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part I (that is quite the mouthful) reminds you why Cruise and his Mission franchise has been so successful.

When Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) comes into possession of a key that unlocks a deadly artificial intelligence known as The Entity it is up to Ethan Hunt (Cruise) to help his old ally. But with the US government, led by Hunt’s original boss Kitteridge (Henry Czerny), wanting the AI for themselves, thief Grace (Hayley Atwell) trying to steal it and the AI’s own emissaries on Hunt’s trail he’ll need every skill in his arsenal to save the lives of those he holds dearest.

Since the first Mission Impossible back in 1996 Ethan Hunt has gradually morphed into not just a rival for James Bond but arguably a superior incarnation. In fact, while Bond has been hit and miss, Hunt and the Mission films have rarely been anything less than exhilarating. While Bond relied on CGI gimmickry, Cruise was busy scaling the tallest buildings in the world, hanging from planes as they took-off, flying helicopters and jumping off cliffs. And that determination to always go BIG is down to the ambition of Cruise.

Dead Reckoning doesn’t so much try to up what has gone before but it certainly feels the most Bond-like. With numerous allies to protect and a rogue’s gallery of villainous hench people – none better than Pom Klementieff’s grinning psychopath – this is essentially the best Bond film in a long time.

It’s rarely interested in plot – although there are a host of genuinely fascinating concepts touched on, not least of all one about an AI becoming almost god-like with ‘followers’ – but in using a macguffin to take us from one set-piece to another. At over two and a half hours it could drag, but it really doesn’t, instead zipping along thanks to the take your breath away action.

By now Cruise’s motorcycle base-jump is well known and while it’s a huge highlight it doesn’t end there. A brilliant car chase through Rome and a blistering foot chase through Venice are right up there amongst the franchise’s most gripping. But it is Reckoning’s climax aboard the Orient Express that is one of the most nail-biting scenes not just in the franchise but in cinema for a long time. It’s clearly taken some inspiration from video-game Uncharted II but to execute it with such finesse and inventiveness is the reason Cruise does these things, because it is pure cinema.

Since the incumbent series director Christopher McQuarrie, now on his third Mission, came in, the films have upped their games in visuals. It is here Reckoning is often jaw-dropping. The aesthetics McQuarrie and his team conjure are stunning. We all know Cruise loves to run but when he’s running through Venice, surrounded by candles you’re left aghast at the beauty of such a set piece. It’s like Don’t Look Now jumped up on Red Bull.

As with Top Gun: Maverick Tom Cruise has once again restored our faith in mega-budget films. Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part I is a big, exciting and gripping action adventure that looks spectacular while doing everything you need a film of this nature to do.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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