Another worthy MI chapter.
Tom Cruise’s IMF agent Ethan Hunt character has been able to survive the new generation of movies. “Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol,” “Rogue Nation,” and “Fallout” have all been able to win us over in the 2010s. Now, we’ve entered the 2020s, and “Dead Reckoning” is poised to entertain us. It’s a shame we couldn’t say the same thing for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” or “Fast X,” which both catered to whatever is going on in the minds of today’s moviegoers.
“Dead Reckoning” is presented in two parts, and we’re in a summer with sequels that are given first parts. There was “Fast X,” which sucked, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” which was dazzling, and now, “Dead Reckoning,” which has the summer popcorn-eating adventures fans expect. Director Christopher McQuarrie continues to bring the “Mission: Impossible” franchise out into the open, and actually knows a smart audience when he sees them.
And it also has to do with Cruise’s commitment to his iconic characters, like how he brought back Maverick in his own territory in “Top Gun: Maverick.” And as Ethan Hunt, he’s in his early 60s, and still feels good.
This time, Ethan must retrieve half of a key Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) has stolen. And both half of the key may control an experimental AI known as “The Entity,” which sabotages programs and erases the evidence. Unfortunately, this AI has spun out of control, and Ethan Ilsa, Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) all must prevent this weapon from getting into the wrong hands.
A featured alley is the thief Grace (Hayley Atwell), who is set to sell the other half of the key to the black market arms dealer Alanna Mitsopolis A.K.A White Widow (Vanessa Kirby) in Venice. But the main antagonist is Gabriel (Esai Morales), who knew Ethan in their youth, and covets the weapon to take over the world. This time, it’s personal to Ethan.
“Mission: Impossible-Dead Reckoning Part 1” does get a little long in some of the fights and chases, but they’re worthy enough to keep Ethan Hunt at bay. And the biggest stunt of his career is when he has to ride a motorcycle off a cliff in Norway, which required training and skydiving during the filming process. Even seeing the BTS look of that scene is still scary AF. How Cruise is able to pull this off is truly amazing, and that’s probably putting it mildly.
But the real key to an entertaining MI sequel is the story, which can be challenging but also smart and provocative. In fact, it’s big enough to be divided into two films, and therefore, you are expecting a cliffhanger.
You still have Cruise showing off his likability as Hunt, whether or not he’s doing a stunt at the moment. You also have Atwell and Morales making worthy additions to the cast. And you also have Henry Czerny reprising his 1996 role as IMF head Eugene Kittridge, along with other newcomers like Shea Whigham and Greg Tarzan Davis as two enforcers, Pom Klementieff as a French assassin, and Cary Elwes as a DNI.
Last week, I panned the made-for-Netflix action comedy “The Out-Laws,” which would probably have worse odds in a theater. I can easily rip the streamers who made it Number 1, but I can also say that “Mission: Impossible-Dead Reckoning Part 1” deserves to be shown in theaters. It actually knows when to be funny, when to be serious, when to be dangerous, and when to take risks. And even a certain car chase sequence is written by the right people and features the right people.
Your First Part of the Mission Should You Choose to Accept It.