Latest Review – Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One [Paramount Pictures] [Theatrical]


Paramount Pictures

Dir. Christopher McQuarrie

Genre: Action • Year: 2023 • Country: USA • Running Time: 163 minutes • Certificate: 12A • Aspect Ratio: Image: Colour • Language: English

Perhaps the only disappointing aspect of Part One of Christopher McQuarrie’s blockbuster latest instalment in the consistently thrilling Mission: Impossible film series is that we now have to wait another twelve months to see the concluding part.

Dead Reckoning Part One sees Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt return for another high stakes, high pressure espionage thriller that ramps up the stunts, the dazzling tech and the breakneck action sequences to an exhilarating new level, though the complex AI centric plot often leaves us with a number of questions and partial plot holes that we really hope are answered and closed off in Dead Reckoning Part Two.

Choosing to accept his latest mission, Dead Reckoning Part One finds IMF (Impossible Missions Force) agent Hunt reluctantly leaving the shadows of his cold, stark apartment and once again teaming up with his trusty, tech-whiz teammates Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames) to prevent a viral Artificial Intelligence known as “The Entity.”

“The Entity” has now become sentient and is threatening to infiltrate the world’s biggest military systems and financial networks, putting various world powers on red alert. The true power of this endgame weapon can be unlocked using a mysterious key – which has been split into two pieces for added protection (similar to the eponymous ‘Dial of Destiny’ in the recent Indiana Jones finale)  – with Ethan and co. now tasked with tracking down and obtaining the two individual key parts in the interest of national security.

Rebecca Ferguson’s former MI6 agent Ilsa Faust is rumoured to have one half of the key, with the IMF placing a sizeable bounty on her head, meaning Ethan must jet off to Yemen for the first part of his globetrotting adventure amidst brutal sandstorms and enemy forces.

Ethan’s breakneck quest then takes him to Abu Dhabi International Airport for a high-tech interception; on a humorous, handcuffed car-chase through the streets of Rome, along with Hayley Atwell’s expert burglar/pick-pocket, Grace; to Venice for a disorienting sprint through the mist shrouded alleyways of the lagoon city; then on to the Austrian Alps for a thrilling finale aboard the Orient Express, complete with ‘that’ stunt. If that wasn’t enough, a team of US Intelligence agents have also been tasked with hunting down Ethan following his earlier antics.

The Mission: Impossible team have always gone above and beyond where action sequences are concerned, though in recent years, McQuarrie and Cruise have really taken things to another level altogether, pulling off audacious, pulse-pounding stunts and intense, white-knuckle set pieces with enviable levels of proficiency and scale.

The technology is mind-blowing, the action utterly gripping and the various twists and turns weaved into the cat-and-mouse narrative keep things rattling along at a fine lick. Dead Reckoning Part One is exactly the sort of big-budget blockbuster that needs to be experienced on the biggest and best screen possible, with big, thudding speakers to do full justice to Lorne Balfe’s thunderous score.

Though far from an origin story, Dead Reckoning has more than a few references back to Ethan’s past with one antagonist in particular coming back to haunt him, as well as harking back to Brian De Palma’s 1996 original Mission: Impossible as former IMF director Eugene Kittridge (Henry Czerny) makes his first appearance since that original film.

Atwell proves a great addition to the franchise and the quick-paced repartee and wisecracks between her and Cruise is particularly well excuted, adding some much needed light relief to the relentless intensity of the action. Excellent support too from Vanessa Kirby, who returns as arms dealer Alanna, Esai Morales as the film’s principal villain, Gabriel, and Pom Klementieff as Gabriel’s henchwoman, Paris, alongside the solid regular quartet of Cruise, Pegg, Rhames and Ferguson.

Dead Reckoning was initally billed as an epic two-part send-off for the character of Ethan Hunt, however, both Cruise and McQuarrie have since expressed interest in continuing the series further, meaning we could well see the M:I series run and run indefinitely.

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