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Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One review: The pinnacle of action films!

Tom Cruise returns for the seventh instalment of the iconic franchise, and it could be the best one yet

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One review: The pinnacle of action films!

Last Updated: 09.10 PM, Jul 12, 2023


Story: Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is tasked with yet another mission, and failure to succeed threatens to destroy modern civilisation. The IMF super agent is up against an adversary like no other— a sentient AI called the ‘Entity’ that has infiltrated nearly every institution across the globe.


Review: The trope of an all-seeing AI with almost omniscient powers is one that has been used in several films and TV shows over the years. The most obvious example would be the Terminator franchise. But of course, with the Terminator films, the narrative takes a very different approach in terms of how the films have characterised AI. Then there are films and TV shows such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Westworld, Blade Runner, and The Matrix, among others. However, the Mission: Impossible franchise has never truly been a sci-fi story. While it does require the suspension of disbelief at times, with its astounding action sequences and its futuristic gadgets, the franchise has always remained grounded in realism.


The latest Mission: Impossible film’s AI trope is more along the lines of Jonathan Nolan’s TV series Person of Interest, and arguably the best Marvel Cinematic Universe film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. But more surprisingly, it shares similarities with another long-running action franchise— Fast and the Furious. Vin Diesel’s franchise introduced an AI called ‘God’s Eye’ in Furious 7. But unlike the half-baked, poorly-written, and terribly executed Fast and Furious film, Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One is a blockbuster for the ages. The film features nail-biting set pieces and well-written characters that pivot around a compelling plot. There is even a car chase scene in Rome that is evidently shot in locations similar to the one in this year’s Fast X. But as one would expect, the ‘Rome car chase’ in Mission: Impossible is significantly superior in literally every aspect of the ill-fated tenth Fast and the Furious film.


In many ways, it appears as if both Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie rolled up their sleeves and decided to show Vin Diesel and the Fast and the Furious crew ‘how it’s done’ – in terms of how to tell a story about an omniscient AI and to execute gripping car chases across the streets of Rome. It is also quite remarkable that the filmmakers of Mission: Impossible 7 have created a thought-provoking and engrossing story around the all too familiar AI trope. The narrative has also taken shots at contemporary global socio-politics and is unabashedly anti-establishment. It also explores themes of religious fanaticism through its character Gabriel (Esai Morales), and his unwavering devotion to the God-like AI called the ‘Entity’. In an era where several governments across the globe are accused of pushing propaganda through cinema, Mission: Impossible 7 aims to be the outlier. While Mission: Impossible may not be the first to take aim at world leaders, it is certainly among the first major blockbusters with a wide demographic to do so in recent times. The last time a significantly popular film worked as a satire on socio-politics was probably George Lucas’s original Star Wars films and their allegory of the Vietnam War.


Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One’s success relies on the sum of its parts. And no part is probably bigger than Hayley Atwell’s (Captain America: The First Avenger) performance as the new character, Grace. The British actress offers a new dynamic to the group led by Cruise’s Ethan Hunt. She is central to the lighter moments in an otherwise serious film. And unlike the big blockbusters in recent years, most notably the Marvel films, comedy does not stick out like a sore thumb. Atwell has great chemistry with Cruise in the film, and she looks likely to play a key role in potential future instalments. The rest of the cast, including Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead), Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction), and Rebecca Ferguson (Dune, Silo), are incredible yet again. Whereas new cast member Esai Morales plays the cold and calculating villain to perfection, much like his incredible performance as Slade Wilson AKA Deathstroke in the DC TV series Titans. Pom Klementieff (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3) on the other hand, plays a confusing villain in the film. Despite essaying the role of a French assassin, she could easily be mistaken for a cosplayer. In one scene, she is seen wearing an outfit oddly similar to the protagonist, 2B, in the acclaimed video game Nier: Automata and then in the next as a dead ringer for DC anti-hero Harley Quinn. However, she does have a crucial part towards the end of the film, as does Vanessa Kirby’s (The Crown) character Alanna Mitsopolis.


The film’s 2 hours and 43 mins runtime breezes by thanks to its gripping story and nail-biting set pieces. Cruise delivers yet another death-defying stunt to perfection in the third act, and continues to reinvent himself as an action star at the age of 61.


Verdict: The seventh instalment of the iconic Mission: Impossible franchise is quite possibly its best one yet. It speaks volumes of Tom Cruise’s dedication to his craft, to keep delivering blockbusters nearly every decade since the ‘80s. Director Christopher McQuarrie also deserves immense praise for helming yet another gripping action thriller held together by a compelling story. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two is slated for a 2024 release, and Part One has offered plenty of reasons why one should be excited about its sequel.


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