Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One review: Tom Cruise has pulled off another miracle

Tom Cruise and Hayley Atwell in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning - Part One ( )
Tom Cruise and Hayley Atwell in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning - Part One ( )

Double agent Ethan Hunt is back – dashing here, dashing there. In the seventh instalment of the Tom Cruise spy series, his mission is to find the two halves of a diabolically powerful key. So, once again, Ethan has to put himself in harm’s way in ravishing locations (including Rome, which has only just recovered from Fast X) while his off-the-grid pals race against time to solve all sorts of puzzles and riddles.

There is much that is stale, over-stuffed and daft about these proceedings. But Cruise and his director, Christopher McQuarrie, are canny old stagers and deliver a final third that changes everything. Essentially, the action and the acting in (and around) a train bound for Innsbruck is as joyful and jolting as anything we’ve seen all year. Cruise, credited by Stephen Spielberg with “saving Hollywood’s ass” after Covid, with Top Gun: Maverick, has pulled off another miracle.

That the actor, now 61, allegedly does his own stunts, (and sets himself harder tasks the older he gets), is all part of what makes the franchise tick. The moment Ethan throws himself into the void to reach that train is dreamily shocking, partly because the camera angles capture the vastness of that void (these are shots made for IMAX screens), partly because it’s so quiet I heard my own gasp.

Just as important to the formula are characters with a proper hinterland. New cast member Hayley Atwell shines as Grace, a triple-crossing thief inadvertently entangled in the mind-games of a rogue AI ‘entity’ whose wing-man, Gabriel (Esai Morales), is a sadist from Ethan’s past.

Esai Morales and Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning - Part One
Esai Morales and Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning - Part One

M:I 7 is full of topical talk about how and if we can control “godless, stateless, amoral” AI, but is most involving when focused on Atwell, especially when her normally icy grifter is trying to stave off tears. She and Vanessa Kirby’s Alanna Mitsopolis, who returns from the sixth instalment Mission: Impossible - Fallout, are excellent and both give this movie its human touch.

How lovely to report, by the way, that none of the female cast wind up in slinky dresses. Grace, like Ethan, favours smart trousers and pastel-coloured waistcoats, while Ethan’s beloved former MI6 ally Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) is never more magnetic than when kitted out in war-time garb that wouldn’t look out of place on Trevor Howard.

They, along with Simon Pegg’s ace techie/stressed-out dogsbody, Benji, (now daring to treat Ethan as an equal), are the reason we should all be anticipating June 28, 2024 with great fervour – that’s the date set for Part Two of this adventure.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout remains the best in the series (more consistently engrossing, it’s got a darker subtext, too), but Tom and his team have done good again. To hell with avatars and deepfakes... reckless and talented thesps still have the power to make us feel alive.

In cinemas from July 10

163mins, Cert 12A