Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
Ethan Hunt needs to fight an invisible villain, who recruited an old nemesis, all while being disavowed once again by his own country. It’s Cruise-control time!
Genre: Action / Adventure / Thriller
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Cast: Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Henry Czerny, Pom Klementieff, Esai Morales, Vanessa Kirby & Shea Whigham.
Run Time: 163 min.
US Release: 11 July 2023
UK Release: 10 July 2023
German Release: 13 July 2023
Another day, another catch-up review. This time around for the new Mission: Impossible, which I saw yesterday in cinemas! I am a massive fan of the franchise, growing up watching reruns of the television show, next to Knight Rider and the A-Team, which is why I hold the first film in such high regard! As such, the seventh instalment was high on my “to-watch” list this year, not only because it is a surprisingly consistent series of movies. Question is, can this new chapter hold up with the quality of its predecessors?
Ethan Hunt and his team must track down a terrifying new weapon, threatening humanity. With the fate of the world at stake, an adrenaline-filled race around the globe begins. Confronted by an old, powerful nemesis, Ethan is forced to consider that the mission is all that counts.
The screenplay is very timely! It turns the world's digital interconnectivity on its head, by taking the concept of artificial intelligence, then implementing it into a scenario in which global governments are in a race to gain control of it, to reshape the world to their liking. It is an ingenious move to make the actual enemy an entity that has no face or emotions, especially as it is something that we humans don’t fully understand.
This is possibly Dead Reckoning’s biggest strength, adding something different to the narrative while maintaining the core template of the franchise. Instead of a person holding the button to a nuclear, biological or unknown device that would destroy the world, it's a cyber program with an unknown outcome. Yet, it still encompasses the familiar thrills and suspense to a plot that feels realistic, combined with captivating action plus likeable characters.
Unfortunately, it is the second weakest entry, coming in after the truly mediocre M:I-2. Personally, I don’t think it was necessary to make this a two-parter, as it hurt the pacing of the story, as well as leaving an unsatisfactory, incomplete sensation, once the credits rolled. It also led to the development of a backstory for Ethan Hunt, before becoming an agent of IMF, which seems shoehorned in for filler reasons.
The dialogues are as always quippy, fast-paced and include urgency. It is also the basis for the tension-breaking humour, thanks to the funny, endearing banter within the team.
Dead Reckoning is also filled to the brim with a lot of actors, some recurring who play parts from previous instalments, others who portray completely new personas. It marks the first entry with such a high cast!
Of course, there can’t be an M:I blockbuster without its protagonist Erhan Hunt, played as always by a magnificent Tom Cruise! The character is being depicted from a completely different angle, elaborating on specific attributes, only hinted at in previous iterations. Cruise himself, gives Hunt his typical charming aura, plus, is once again once-hundred per cent physically committed to the stunts.
Newcomer Hayley Atwell, who portrays professional thief Grace, has great chemistry with Cruise. She also sells her stunt work, including a nerve-wracking scene near the end. Grace is a likeable persona, thrown involuntarily into a conspiracy. She is the fish out of water in this scenario, new to the world of espionage.
Then there are Hunt's loyal friends Stickell, depicted by Ving Rhames, and Benji, represented by Simon Pegg. Both return to their respective roles, obtaining larger screen time than usual. The trio has as always brilliant playful exchanges with each other.
Rebecca Ferguson also returns as Ilsa Faust, a former MI6 agent and acquaintance of Hunt, since Rogue Nation. It is implied that she has a romantic entanglement with Ethan, though nothing is confirmed. Unfortunately, her character arc is treated disrespectfully. Henry Czerny reprises his role as former IMF director Eugene Kittridge from the first Mission: Impossible.
Esai Morales was cast as Gabriel, a past nemesis of Ethan, before his IMF recruitment. Gabriel represents the entity in physical form, however, is missing the motivation that all previous villains had. He is a one-dimensional antagonist, though Morales does depict him in a despising manner. Finally, Pom Klementieff gives a great physical rendition as Gabriel’s enforcer.
Just like its predecessors before, this sixth sequel is a stunning-looking blockbuster, using analogue camera work, plus good old-fashioned stunt work, to create action sequences that look real. The automotive chases are once again incredibly well framed and captured, while the claustrophobic hand-to-hand combat feels fresh, unseen until now in these spy thrillers. The final action segment includes ideas that borrow heavily from the Uncharted video game series, delivering one last adrenalin blow.
As stated above, the action was filmed using practical effects, stunt work, just like practical props. Computer-generated graphics are only used during post-edit, to digitally clean up the imagery. The grand stunt scene was shot using modern drone cameras, giving audiences the impression of being there with Cruise, during his death-defying jump.
The soundtrack is composed by Lorne Balfe, who also released the music for its predecessor Fallout. It includes a reinvented version of the usual opening theme, this time drawing from the sinister personal history of Ethan Hunt.
Verdict: Christopher McQuarrie returns as director of the seventh chapter in the Mission: Impossible film series, which is a wild ride! It had me at the edge of my seat a couple of times, however, no matter how good it is, it also has some serious flaws! For one, making the narrative a two-parter caused this first segment to have some serious pacing issues, as the whole movie revolves around the hunt for the MacGuffin. Ethan's backstory feels like filler, and his connection with Gabriel is unnecessary, especially as Gabriel isn’t sufficiently fleshed out as his adversary. Hayley Atwell is a great new addition to the cast, having impeccable chemistry with Tom Cruise, who returns as Hunt. Unfortunately, Ilsa’s character is being treated disdainfully. The cinematography is fantastic, containing adrenaline-fueled, practical stun work, while the action includes new combat sequences, previously never used before. Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part 1 is a fun experience in cinemas, yet is a steep fall, compared to most of its predecessors. It is a solid 8.0 out of 10.
Have you seen Dead Reckoning yet? Which M:I espionage action thriller is your favourite? Leave a comment below & if you like the content, make sure to share & subscribe! Thank you for reading!