To this day, one of the most consistent franchises in Hollywood is the “Mission: Impossible” franchise. Each of the seven movies, although similar to one another in terms of plot structure, has something unique about them. Whether it be the choice of filmmaker or the creativity of the action set-pieces and stunts, the “Mission: Impossible” franchise isn’t afraid to experiment with its world and characters.
Tom Cruise, one of the saviors of the entertainment industry, reprises his role as Ethan Hunt and he is assigned to recover half of a cruciform key from disowned ex-MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (played by Rebecca Ferguson). Afterward, Hunt infiltrates a meeting of leaders of the U.S. Intelligence Community in Washington, D.C. to discuss a new rogue AI with CIA Director and Director of National Intelligence, Eugene Kittridge (played by Henry Czerny).
Called “the Entity,” the AI is sentient and has invaded the major defense, financial and intelligence networks of the world. Powerful individuals all across the globe compete to obtain the cruciform key to protect their national security and somehow control the Entity. Hunt seeks to destroy the Entity as he believes it poses too great a threat to human civilization.
What makes “Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning – Part One” (2023) interesting is that this is the first movie in the entire series where the main villain is not a physical human but an unpredictable AI that is always a few steps ahead. The film does feature Esai Morales as Gabriel, a terrorist who has ties to Hunt’s pre-IMF past, but he does not compare to the level of intrigue that is the Entity.
However, that is not to say that Gabriel has zero intrigue whatsoever. As I have already stated before, Gabriel does have a history with Hunt before Hunt was an IMF agent. Shown through a series of short flashbacks, we see that Gabriel murdered a woman named Marie whom Hunt was involved with. The murder of Marie and the resurgence of Gabriel are what makes the mission of destroying the Entity and keeping the key from falling into the wrong hands a much more personal struggle with Ethan Hunt, and I absolutely love it.
The film introduces another new character and a new member of the IMF and that is Grace played by Hayley Atwell. At first, Grace doesn’t work for the IMF and is only a part of the story because she was hired by Alanna Mitsopolis (aka “the White Widow”) played by Vanessa Kirby to steal the half piece of the cruciform key. Atwell’s Grace, and her relationship with Cruise’s Hunt, is one of the most entertaining things in the whole film.
This duo is a match made in Heaven. One of the best action sequences in the film is where Hunt and Grace are handcuffed to each other and are trying to flee from Gabriel’s people in a lengthy chase sequence that includes a lot of crashing vehicles. The small comedic bits between Cruise and Atwell are funny, and how they were able to perform their own stunts while in moving cars is impressive.
Like every “Mission: Impossible” film that came before, “Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning – Part One” is a masterpiece of action filmmaking. Hats off to director Christopher McQuarrie and the rest of the production team on this film for bringing life back into action cinema. For the longest time, it seemed like action movies were becoming stale and worn out. The action wasn’t memorable in the slightest and seemed kind of boring compared to the rest of the film.
Thankfully, audiences all over the world still have people like Tom Cruise going above and beyond what is capable of being accomplished on set when filming extremely dangerous scenes. In a way, I feel like the “Mission: Impossible” movies are just an excuse for Tom Cruise to do some kind of death-defying stunt. If it is, then I have no problem with it. The man has balls to do something no other actor would even think of doing.
The scene where Hunt rides his motorcycle off a cliff, skydiving and then activating his parachute so that he can catch up with a train that is occupied by Grace, the White Widow, Gabriel and others, was built up perfectly by the marketing for this movie. The same amount of excitement is felt by moviegoers when they watch the trailer and see that scene and when they finally see it unfold in the film. Once it's over, a rush of adrenaline is felt by the moviegoers as if they experienced the skydive with Cruise. It is just such an amazing stunt.
One thing that I would like to touch on is the character of Ilsa Faust. Rebecca Ferguson gives another wonderful performance as Ilsa even though she doesn’t have a lot of scenes. The reason for her lack of screen time is that she is killed by Gabriel while in combat with him. Hunt eventually arrives at the scene of her body and grieves over her death. What I personally believe might happen in “Part Two” is that the screenwriters will somehow bring her back.
Her death and the aftermath of it just seem to be rushed a little and it doesn’t feel like an official end to a character. We will have to wait and see if she does or does not return for the second part. As for the rest of the cast, everyone delivers charming and passionate performances. Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn and Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell are always going to be good no matter how much screen time each actor is given. Others such as Pom Klementieff as Paris, Shea Whigham as Briggs and Greg Tarzan Davis as Degas all have their moments to shine.
“Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning – Part One” is an awesome action movie that knows exactly what the fans want. While it may not be better than its predecessor, it still is good enough to stand on its own legs without having to be compared to the film that came before it. If you love Tom Cruise and action movies, then this film was practically made for you. Please go see “Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning – Part One” at a local theater near you. It’s a blast.