Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One Is The Best One Yet

L-R: Tom Cruise and Hayley Atwell in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning - Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is the best Mission: Impossible film yet as the franchise launches the seventh film.

We’re getting deeper into the franchise, which begs the question: in what way will Tom Cruise outdo himself on the stunt front? Cruise is always seeking to push the boundaries in terms of stunts. We saw this during his free climb of Burj Khalifa in Ghost Protocol even though he was safely attached to the building. There’s usually one death-defying stunt in these films. It is not a matter of if but when. This time around, Cruise drives a motorbike off a mountain before dropping some 4,000 feet in the air…just to catch a moving train. Most actors would leave the stunt work to their stunt double but Tom Cruise is probably in a category by himself. How many actors would do the same stunt seven times?

Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning - Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.
Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning – Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.

Interestingly, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and the IMF face their biggest foe in the franchise to date: AI. Hunt is joined by tech geniuses Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg). Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) is back. Also returning is Alanna Mitsopolis/The White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), who has her own agenda but the film allows us to get to understand her in a different way than what we saw in Fallout. Perhaps the biggest surprise of Eugene Kittridge (Henry Czerny) making his return for the first time since 1996. His return brings more than fan service but it really adds to the story because of how long he’s known Ethan. A new addition to the team is Grace (Hayley Atwell). I’m really curious to see how they incorporate her character going forward. There’s a chemistry to Ethan and Grace’s relationship that makes them so much fun to watch.

The antagonist of choice is timely when you consider what writers, actors, and directors have been discussing during the past year. This is a film that really speaks to the dangers of AI. What happens when they have all the power? Gabriel (Esai Morales) also does the AI’s bidding, which brings us back to Ethan’s past. In this film, we’re living in the past almost as much as we’re living in the future. But anyway, Gabriel will do whatever it takes to make sure that nobody gets their hands on the key. He’s aided by Paris (Pom Klementieff), who shows that the actress has a bigger range than Guardians of the Galaxy fans might think.

L-R: Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, and Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning - Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.
L-R: Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, and Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning – Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.

I’ve lost count of the number of films in which Christopher McQuarrie directed, wrote, or produced and Cruise starred in them. However, it’s a formula that has been working for a number of years. If it isn’t broken, there’s certainly no need to fix it. I will say that the filmmaker’s Mission: Impossible films keep getting better and better. There’s also a longer story at hand and it’s playing out through a number of films. Put it this way: you want to start your binge with Ghost Protocol at the very least. Trust me–it was McQuarrie’s first Mission: Impossible script. In any event, the film is so big that 2:36 is not long enough to tell the story. The second part is coming in due time. Regardless, Ethan Hunt is one of the greatest action heroes in cinematic history.

Brian De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird directed the first four films of the franchise. Nothing against any of their films but McQuarrie has found the winning formula for the franchise: an action-packed globe-trotting adventure with a lot of fun and emotion driving the plot forward. Judging by my laughter, this film offered the most fun to date. It certainly helps when one director is able to continue their vision rather than restart from scratch. Under McQuarrie’s helm, the franchise is pushing any boundary that exists in cinema. We’ve already seen one epic train stunt in the franchise but this film manages to push the boundary even further. You watch this film and wonder how in the hell they’re going to outdo themselves in Part Two.

I’ve got to give some credit to special effects supervisor Neil Corbould. Not only does the film climax with a death-defying stunt but an astonishing train sequence to boot. The train sequence in Mission: Impossible gives Indiana Jones a run for its money and they had to de-age Harrison Ford on top. It’s certainly not cheap to build a train, only to wreck it. It’s still one of the best action sequences anybody will watch in a cinema this year. And again, Cruise’s Ethan Hunt has to drive off of a mountain and soar into the train.

I’ve already written so much about the stunts and special effects that I’ve yet to touch on Lorne Balfe’s score. Balfe has been keeping busy with a number of film scores this year alone. This is his second Mission: Impossible film after Fallout and the score is even better this time around.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is the best film in the franchise to date and one of the best films of the year. It has been five years since the previous Mission but the wait was worth it. Movies like Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning – Part One are why we go to movie theaters.

DIRECTOR: Christopher McQuarrie
SCREENWRITERS: Christopher McQuarrie & Erik Jendresen
CAST: Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, Esai Morales, Pom Klementieff, Mariela Garriga, Henry Czerny, Shea Whigham, Greg Tarzan Davis, Charles Parnell, Frederick Schmidt, Cary Elwes, Mark Gatiss, Indira Varma, Rob Delaney

Paramount will release Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One in theaters on July 12, 2023. Grade: 5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.