By Megan Bianco
It’s ironic we received new additions to Indiana Jones and Mission: Impossible this July, as both, along with Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne movies, were initially Hollywood’s answers to James Bond’s success.
While Indiana Jones continues to pack on more sentimentality in each new adventure, M:I now holds the standard for quality action sequences. There’s a reason its lead, Tom Cruise, is considered one of the biggest movie stars of all time. To him, the magic of filmmaking is in the choreography and special effects.
We know he also has the acting talent to back up his love of stunts, and so do most of the actors he recruits for his beloved film series, including in their newest assignment of Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning, Part 1.
Here in Dead Reckoning, Part 1, we channel all the way back to the movie that took a popular CBS TV show from 1966-1973 and made it a mega blockbuster: Brian de Palma’s Mission: Impossible (1996).
De Palma isn’t back, but the over-the-top editing and direction, as well as stagey exposition, remind us of his style, which will either be effective or polarizing depending on the viewer. There’s even a flashback to young Ethan Hunt (Cruise) with shadows and silhouettes, rather than digital de-aging, which is nice.
Dead Reckoning, Part 1 is more of what we usually get with Ethan on the job: an evil mastermind (this time played by Esai Morales); a crazy, dangerous plan of world domination that will destroy everything; multiple femme fatales (Rebecca Ferguson, Hayley Atwell, Vanessa Kirby and Pom Klementieff) who kick butt; and Ethan’s buddy IMF agents played by Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg.
Though the visual direction of M:I has always been the main draw, we do still get some character development over the course of Agent Hunt’s missions (i.e., Michelle Monaghan occasionally appearing as Ethan’s estranged wife).
Cruise continues to shine as Ethan all these years later, and he plays off the new and old supporting actors naturally.
Atwell and Klementieff are solid additions, especially with their Marvel backgrounds, but Kirby is barely in the film. My biggest issue was McQuarrie and Erik Jendresen’s script utilizing a very outdated trope for Ferguson’s character, who is now rendered a cliché.
But, as mentioned earlier, Mission: Impossible is about good guys fighting bad guys at the end of the day, and Dead Reckoning, Part 1 delivers on that front the same way Joseph Kosinski’s Top Gun: Maverick (2022) did last year.