Synopsis: Ethan Hunt and his IMF team must track down a dangerous weapon before it falls into the wrong hands.
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Stars: Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, Pom Klementieff, Esai Morales
If Tom Cruise isn’t the best action star on the planet, I don’t know who is? Sure, there are other names you can put on the list, but Cruise is firmly planted at number one. For two years, his films have been the talk of the coveted summer blockbuster season.
Last May, when Top Gun: Maverick was released, it was preceded by a trailer for Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One. The stunts and action sequences in the two-minute clip left audiences breathless and wanting more. Top Gun: Maverick made over $1.4 billion, and the wait for Dead Reckoning Part One began.
When you consider Cruise is just over 60 years old, it seems the only thing that can stop him is time.
There was a lot of anticipation and hype behind the new Mission film, which can be an issue if the audiences’ expectations aren’t met. It’s not an issue here. Picking up where he left off last year, Cruise is doing a good job of getting people into the theatre. I saw this film on a Monday night at a packed screening of over 350 people. This is significant. We are seeing an increase in attendance; this film will help immensely.
You might be thinking that all the good scenes are in the trailer. Not here. The most overplayed scene leading up to this is the shot of Tom Cruise’s character jumping off a cliff on a motorcycle. While that scene is incredibly impressive, there are other moments to keep audiences engaged. The trailer does an excellent job of developing anticipation while not giving a lot away.
This movie is a thrill ride. Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is called into action as a new global threat has emerged. His team Luther (Ving Rhames), and Benji (Simon Pegg) are in tow to assist. In this film, Rhames’ character is more of a voice of reason, while Pegg’s Benji still carries the load of the many comedic/lighthearted moments.
In the film, Ethan encounters a foe from his past while also dealing with forces after him and his team.
Cruise has been vocal about wanting people in theatres to view films, and this movie dares you to see it on the biggest screen possible, like an IMAX theatre. The cinematography is gorgeous; the way cinematographer Fraser Taggart has shot the film must be commended: gorgeous locations such as Norway, Italy and Abu Dhabi, to name a few, come to life behind Taggart’s lens.
The score is also effective as it blends with the storytelling and the emotions created on screen.
Christopher McQuarrie directs the film but let’s not kid ourselves; this is a Tom Cruise film. In the same way that Inception is a Christopher Nolan film, and Pulp Fiction is a Quentin Tarantino film, this movie is backed by the name Tom Cruise.
As you watch Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One, you recognise that in addition to being a great action star and an extremely talented actor, Cruise is very collaborative. The movie poster says it all: the eight primary cast members and all eight have an opportunity to shine, and do.
Every great hero needs a villain, and Esai Morales is up to the task. The casting department must have been fans of Ozark to know that Morales could deliver, and he does.
Pom Klementieff plays Paris, the right hand to Gabriel, who does much more fighting and killing than speaking. Her role is reminiscent of the James Bond henchman type, and she excels in it.
Hayley Atwell has arrived. That sounds funny to say of someone who has appeared in other projects, including several Marvel films but her roles in those projects, specifically the Marvel films, were as a muse and not a central role. Atwell has the opportunity to shine here, and she electrifies the screen. Without giving a lot away, her character is very intriguing and is given a lot of fun material to work with. Sometimes an actor just needs the correct role to deliver an elevated performance, and this movie did that for her like Pieces of a Woman did that for Vanessa Kirby.
Speaking of Kirby, she is back as The White Widow. Her repeat performance speaks to her on-screen appeal and what she has done with this character. There aren’t many other characters in the Mission: Impossible universe that have made a comeback.
This movie has added many great elements from other films that Mission has put a spin on and made their own: the phenomenal car chases from Ronin, the cold right band/henchmen from the James Bond movies, and aspects of The Hunt for Red October.
You might ask, “Is this the best action movie of all time?” or even “Is this the best Mission: Impossible film?” Hard to say — recency bias is a thing! — but time will tell.
What can be said is this is an outstanding cinematic achievement. At two hours and fourty five minutes, it didn’t feel long. The story is well crafted, the pacing is great, and the filmmaking is impressive. At one point, you are watching an incredible car chase, and then it hits you; there is no score, only the sound of the engines and tires screeching. The film is so immersive at points it truly demands an IMAX viewing.
The opening sequence is about 40 minutes long but just flies by. (Shout out to the gentlemen in front of me who started chair dancing very enthusiastically when the Mission: Impossible theme song came on during the opening credits).
The time frame for movies to be released in theatres before going digital is weeks when it used to be months. So many films may not need to be seen on the big screen, but that is not the case here. Respect to anyone’s home theatre — you will not replicate the cinematic experience of this film.
Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One is an incredible movie that deserves all the hype. Every aspect of this movie works. And while the countdown for part two has begun, I suspect it will be worth the wait.