Geek Review – Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

Style, action and a touch of ludicrous – it’s what defined the Mission: Impossible franchise when it was on TV and seven movies across 27 years later, Hollywood and its cast have given audiences a thrill ride of unimaginable proportions that has constantly taken us to new heights, and more importantly, stuck to the landing way too many times to be nothing less of a spectacle that reestablishes why Tom Cruise is the last movie star we’ll ever see.

Just as each sequel has delivered on the action that places practical effects ahead of special effects and green screen, Cruise, and currently, director, writer and producer Christopher McQuarrie, have found new ways to push the very definition of action at a time where CGI wizardry has made actors and filmmakers lazy. Their latest stunt for Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, which sees Cruise ride off a cliff on a motorcycle before pulling his parachute has been revealed and viewed months before the movie opened, and why not? They want us to know that no short cuts were taken in filming the sequence, in which Cruise rode off a cliff, and destroyed a motorcycle, six times in one day and even though we’ve seen the behind the scenes and recognize some digital effects in the final movie, it does nothing to remove the gripping tension when we see Ethan Hunt attempt the same in the movie.

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If anything, McQuarrie, who directed the last two Mission: Impossible movies, and Cruise know by now that audiences aren’t just here for the twist, turns and frenetic storyline that has become the foundation of the franchise. Sure, the plot helps to drive the action, but the joy from watching Mission: Impossible films is the sense of satisfaction received from seeing the car chases, stunts, and overall delivery so effortlessly executed, that audiences will no doubt get drained just trying to keep up, right from the opening sequence. Parts of the writing, and movie itself, even attempts to peel back on the absurd premise of the series, of having to appeal to a shadow organization for help, only to be at their mercy should they choose to not accept a particular mission that will get them disavowed should even one of them get caught.

That IMF or Impossible Mission Force moniker that has been the receiving end of ridicule given the association to the real International Monetary Fund? It gets referenced, as does the often times insane situations that Hunt finds himself in, where he has to make it up as he goes along. And he even tells it to his new partner in crime, career thief Grace (Hayley Atwell), who ends up with a two-part key that the world governments and one determined terrorist, Grabriel (Esai Morales), are looking to obtain. With no one else to turn to, Hunt falls back to his IMF buddies Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), as well as former MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) for support.

Rounding up the returning cast are Vanessa Kirby, reprising her role as arms dealer Alanna Mitsopolis aka White Widow from Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018), and former IMF director Eugene Kittridge (Henry Czerny) who was last seen in the first film alongside Alanna’s mother and arms dealer, Max Mitsopolis.

It’s a lean cast but at almost three hours long, the film dives right in on the action, delivering one set piece after another, and even when it’s not trying, it casually exerts its unintended superiority and dominance over other franchise sequels. The most obvious is the whole Rome sequence, when Hunt and Grace take to the streets in a small Fiat 500, where they are being chased by a crazed assassin, Paris (Pom Klementieff). From navigating the tiny streets of Rome, evading authorities and mad terrorists, to meeting up with old contacts from out of the blue, Dead Reckoning does it with so much flair, style and ease, in a classic car with both occupants chained to one handcuff no less, that easily puts the recent Fast X, which had the exact same Rome action sequence, to shame. Watch carefully family of race car drivers – this is how you race through a small city, destroy it and not have audiences roll their eyes every five seconds.

And in what is likely to be a remarkable coincidence, the train sequence in the final act also mirrors that of the train sequence in the opening act of the recent Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, but where one was an awkward, extended ride that chugged along to an unknown destination, the one here is a jaw-dropping thrill ride that follows no less than five agenda-driven individuals racing full steam ahead on a collision course where not everyone will survive. Maybe it’s Cruise’s charm, or deft direction by McQuarrie, but this is action filmmaking at its finest and most simple, delivered with substance.

The duo has strung together another satisfying Mission: Impossible action vehicle that stands on its own as a separate story that doesn’t necessitate viewings of both prior McQuarrie-helmed films, and effortlessly does justice to the secondary characters, including Grace and Paris. There are some twists that are unexpected, though they don’t come as a surprise and even though the title denotes this as the first part of a two-chapter film, there is enough closure, as well as crumbs left behind for audiences to look forward to the next installment slated for release next year.



Is this the best Mission: Impossible film? Does it have to be? The last four films have been excellent in pushing the boundaries of its star and his IMF team, providing audiences with so much to look forward to each time we jump on this high-speed train of impossible action and espionage, because we chose to accept this, and any mission with Cruise.

  • Story - 9/10
  • Direction - 10/10
  • Characterisation - 8.5/10
  • Geek Satisfaction - 9.5/10