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Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One Review

by Daniel Reynolds
4.0 out of 5.0 stars

The Mission: Impossible franchise has retroactively—and somewhat surprisingly—become a bonafide stalwart. There was no reason in, say, 1999 to believe we’d still be saving the world with Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, and yet here we are. Now after over 25 years, M:I stands alone as a bulwark against lazy action films, those slicker and uglier and altogether more cynical in their construction. As absurd as he is as a human being, Cruise just won’t succumb to that.

For this seventh film in the venerable series, subtitled Dead Reckoning – Part One, Hunt takes the field against a super-powered AI called “The Entity,” which has loosed its bonds and hacked the world. What’s worse: all of said world now wants the means to control this Entity, which is where the IMF team (including a returning Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, and Ving Rhames) enter. In typical M:I fashion, the crew (plus newcomer Hayley Atwell) goes globe-trotting to secure a tech MacGuffin, fend off the bad guys, and pull some truly wild stunts. This is where Cruise really stands out, and what makes this film—and the efforts he and director Christopher McQuarrie have made to produce it—worthwhile. With their squad of writers and technicians, they do not reinvent action filmmaking; instead, at its best, their film works as a greatest hits of the genre. It could be classified as derivative, if not for the novel spins put on each setpiece—and the pure conviction on display. This movie will work, it will set up Part Two, and you’ll be excited to see that one too.

As with his recent Top Gun relaunch, Cruise’s on-screen enemy also finds a neat real-world parallel: an algorithm that would make men like Hunt (and Cruise) obsolete. In response, as other action movies have given themselves over to weightless spectacle, Cruise and Co. seem even more determined to deliver the old favourites—albeit faster, bigger, and better. As his late-period career continues, it’s clear Cruise has found his mission. If there’s a problem it’s that he works like the Entity now too: calculating all possible permutations towards the optimal outcome.

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