July 10, 2023

CINEMA | Decoding 'Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning'

"He's a mind-reading, shape-shifting incarnation of chaos."
Tom Cruise Christopher McQuarrie | Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One
Paramount Pictures / Skydance
Tom Cruise and frequent collaborator Christopher McQuarrie return as star and director for the seventh Mission: Impossible entry (and the first part of a two-part saga) in the long-running action franchise. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning tells another sprawling tale of disavowed covert operatives saving the world against certain doom from an unknown but critical global threat—this time, in the form of an evil, all-powerful algorithm known as "the Entity".

Franchise newcomers Hayley Atwell and Esai Morales co-star as Cruise's Ethan Hunt's newest unwilling sidekick and a villainous figure from his past working to aid the piece of threatening technology for mysterious reasons. Atwell has a surprising amount of screentime as the true co-lead, a new but important thief figure key to preventing the world's resources from falling into the wrong hands. However, it's a mostly silent Pom Klementieff's gleeful French assassin as the highlight new character with few lines but tons of physicality who acts as a real threat to Cruise's death-defiant Ethan Hunt.

Rebecca Ferguson and Vanessa Kirby both return to complicate Ethan's life and mission with their own motives and desires for in possible, A.I.-driven new world order. Clearly, due to pandemic filming complications and restrictions, Dead Reckoning feels a little sparse when it comes to minor characters, any crowd scenes, and a general epic international scope despite the new thrilling set pieces and usual globe-trotting antics.

| Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

Fan-favourite Henry Czerny returns from the very first Mission film as former IMF Director Eugene Kittredge with the veteran character actor clearly delighting in and relishing every single line delivery. It's unclear where his allegiances lie as a fun X-factor to this particularly Impossible mission.

Written by McQuarrie and Erik Jendresen, this Mission script plays on over twenty years of tropes, our familiarity with previous films, characters, and series lore. Some of the complex production elements of the film hurt the franchise's usually expansive scope of action from one entry to another. However, Cruise and McQuarrie dial up the escalation of stakes and pure spectacle for the grounded but unreal stunts put to screen. It's also the funniest Mission film with a welcome but goofy sense of physical comedy.

Dead Reckoning is a satisfying film on its own, with a large dangling thread to be continued. Here's hoping this film is to Rogue Nation what part two will be to Fallout in that the latter only makes the former richer and more enjoyable upon completion and reflection of both films acting as one whole, extended story. It's hard to fully judge this part until we see how certain elements are paid off in its forthcoming sequel.

More | YVArcade / Indiewire / Inverse / ScreenCrush

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