It isn’t a bad problem for a franchise to have when the only damning statement you can come up with is ‘it’s another Mission: Impossible film’.
Factoring in an updated portent of doom (AI is a-gunna get-ya) and a woven in backstory revenge element for Ethan Hunt, the inexhaustible Tom Cruise (Top Gun) is once again showing everyone how it should be done.
Let's get the flaws out of the way first, shall we? If you ain’t Cruise, antagonist Esai Morales, or newcomer Hayley Atwell then you ain’t getting much to do.
In setting up a big potential send off for Ethan Hunt, writer / director Christopher McQuarrie ensures that his front man is the only emotional core on display.
This includes a short sharp sideline of series regular Rebecca Ferguson (as ex-MI6 agent, Ilsa Faust) in favour of Atwell’s wide-eyed in over her head thief.
Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames remain but the camaraderie is less on display than Ghost Protocol or Rogue Nation. Also, sadly, unlike in Fallout no guest star reloads their arms this time. For shame.
With such a reliable standard of entertainment, the only real way to measure a new Mission: Impossible film is to compare it to the other ones. Everyone’s personal preferences will no doubt be fluid, but what Dead Reckoning nails more than its siblings is gravitas.
What Is Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning About?
As corny as a self-aware AI antagonist called The Entity (complete with ominous wobbly circle graphic) may be, that it is loose within the world’s infrastructure means that the devastating global consequences when nothing digital can be trusted is shudderingly current.
Gifted the room to craft an overarching tone, McQuarrie clicks the plot pieces into place by taking his time over each sequence.
The movie opens with an ominous set-up: a Russian stealth submarine battling an even more unseen enemy.
The result is a deep feeling of unease, and that this time around doom is an ever present shadow.
Cruise is arguably at his best here. We all take the ridiculous stunts almost for granted now, but Dead Reckoning’s signature OMG-that’s-really-Cruise! moment is not dulled by expectation.
However, it is in the quieter or more tortured moments that Cruise really shines. As conflicting emotions run across his expression, Cruise’s Hunt has never felt more human.
Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Official Trailer
Is Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Worth Watching?
Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning packs in a bevvy of set pieces, all stalked by a quasi-omniscient Gabriel (Morales) acting as The Entity’s envoy.
The baddies of Mission: Impossible are hit and miss but Morales has a screen filling presence that makes a runaway train sequence or arms-deal-turned-fight-for-life all the more sonorous.
That he is backed by a manically lethal assassin (courtesy of Pom Klementieff) gives the pair a double-faced threat.
Newcomer Grace (Atwell) is successfully dropped in to prevent over-familiarity with the Mission: Impossible formula.
She has little depth beyond her job title (her bio starts and stops with ‘selfish thief’) but her wide-eyed shock as Cruise does all his Cruise stuff helps us fall in love with it ourselves all over again. She fills out her prescribed quips / skills / moment of revelation with energetic panache.
It seems like we say this every time, but no other action franchise in Hollywood is coming close to the reliable quality of the Mission: Impossible films, and Dead Reckoning is no exception.
It has just the right amounts of slightly daft tech, slightly superhuman skills, humanising comedy, and jaw-dropping action to produce a certified Good Time At The Movies™.
If you’ve come this far you’ve already chosen to accept it, and Dead Reckoning will certainly not disavow you.
Words by Mike Record
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