After witnessing just how much crazier the stunts have become throughout the Mission Impossible movies, Dead Reckoning Part One is the most insane. As for whether that motorcycle stunt can be surpassed in part two, I have a prediction. There will be some nut bar oceanic test for Ethan Hunt to escape from, and he better be Harry Houdini. It’s easy to surmise that will happen in the next film when considering how part one begins.
What I enjoyed from this film concerns how the stakes get raised. This unit keeps on finding themselves in missions a single human can’t take on alone. In this series, Hunt’s team has each other’s back. And it’s great the stories never deviate from this fact. Also, from simple espionage narratives to global threats, I believe this latest is taking cues from past films. From Ghost Protocol to the team creating a Rogue Nation of their own, the latest motion picture has a nautical title that not everyone is talking about.
In this film, there’s an Artificial Intelligence called The Entity and it is as deadly as Skynet! As a result, the only way to deal with it concerns locating the key which provides access to its original programming. However, to prevent that from happening, it’s been split in two.
If this story doesn’t sound familiar already, then you haven’t seen Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. Equally important is how Hunt (Tom Cruise) must find Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson). She first appeared in Rogue Nation, and it’s great to see her back. As for how she got her hands on it, no explanations are needed.
However, when he gets pickpocketed by Grace (Hayley Atwell), a professional thief, he has to go chasing after her. Joining the chase are other government agents. That’s because whoever can possess this AI can also control the world. Nobody knows who possesses the other half. And as for how either piece came into human possession is a massive plot hole that requires better explanation in part two! To convince this new character to work with Hunt isn’t easy, but in true storytelling fashion, she becomes an unlikely ally.
The drama keeps this film in balance, and I love how the chemistry between Cruise and Atwell’s characters begins as volatile. After a bit of careful mixing and seeing them together stirring up more trouble, these two have to work together. As a result, I found this sequence more fun than in what Indy did in Tangier when chasing down Helena. But to watch a similarly designed story was getting even more noticeable as the story went on.
At least everything we know about Hunt motorbiking off a suitable mountaintop from the early promotional material comes to light. Had it led to a cliffhanger, I’d love this movie even more. Instead, what we learn is still exciting. Thus, it’s no mystery he has to land onboard a moving train. From the point of view of delivering this action well, I loved how film editor Eddie Hamilton juggled between all that’s going on inside the train, to Ethan’s search for that high top and making that jump. And I’m glad the adage the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry is excellently used here.
Although a good amount of time is spent around the train, I was concerned that we can’t get anything more original. After Dial of Destiny, the beats are too similar. Ethan has ridden them all (boats, planes, trains, and automobiles), and I’m left wondering what other vehicles haven’t been used? I don’t think he’s hijacked a modern tank or operated a jetpack yet. But I’d have to make a checklist to confirm while rewatching all the movies again. To be honest, I’d love to see Tom (pardoning the pun) cruise the skies like the Rocketeer.
While this latest movie is terrific at delivering over the top action, the narrative doesn’t bear equal weight. There’s a lesson this movie gently preaches: don’t develop a sentience that you can’t control. This theme is getting quite common in a few films lately. And as for whether that’s because the writers are running out of ideas or it’s a hot topic these days, I hope that doesn’t spell the end of how to write a blockbuster movie. This issue is partially fuelling the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike, and it’ll be interesting to see how the studio system manages to survive afterwards.
3½ Stars out of 5