Advertisement

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One review: Tom Cruise's action franchise still has spark

The action franchise returns on 10 July

Hayley Atwell and Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning - Part One. (Paramount)
Hayley Atwell and Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning - Part One. (Paramount) (Christian Black)
  • 🎞️ When is Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One in cinemas: 10 July, 2023

  • ⭐️ Our rating: 4/5

  • 🎭 Who's in it? Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Esai Morales, Ving Rhames, Vanessa Kirby

  • 👍 What we liked: The incredible action sequences and the addition of Hayley Atwell makes this film one of the best of the franchise

  • 👎 What we didn't: It's incredibly long and feels bloated by its jam-packed plot

  • 📖 What's it about?: With governments around the world racing to find the key to a sentient AI system known as The Entity, Ethan Hunt and his crew make it their mission to find it before it gets into the wrong hands.

In a world where AI, and the rights and wrongs of its use, has begun to dominate public conversation, Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One imagines a world where a programme becomes sentient and threatens to completely change life as we know it.

With the various world powers racing to gain control of the rogue AI — known as The Entity — it's up to Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his crew to find the two interlocking keys that will give someone the power to control truth itself.

What the key opens though? No one is entirely sure.

Read more: Mission: Impossible recap: The story of the Tom Cruise spy series so far

But Hunt is determined to find the MacGuffin before it can get into the wrong hands. To get it, he enlists the help of his fellow IMF agents Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) as well as old friends like Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) and newbie Grace (Hayley Atwell).

Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning - Part One. (Paramount)
Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning - Part One. (Paramount) (Christian Black)

Dead Reckoning Part One is an exhilarating addition to the franchise, and certainly one of its best thanks to its intensity and humour.

The film — the third MI instalment directed by Christopher McQuarrie — is able to balance the two seamlessly, adding to the action film series' status as Hollywood's biggest and boldest franchise.

Once again, Cruise is impressive as Hunt, remaining the charismatic agent even as he struggles with a darker side to himself when an old enemy, Gabriel (Esai Morales), comes onto the scene.

Esai Morales and Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning - Part One. (Paramount)
Esai Morales and Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning - Part One. (Paramount) (Christian Black)

But he works particularly well with newcomer Atwell, who is absolutely captivating as professional thief Grace.

They share an undeniable chemistry onscreen and make a great comedy duo, which is the result of a surprising amount of close-up magic and hilarious car chase sequences.

Dead Reckoning Part One also features huge action sequences that rival its predecessors in both scale and wonder. Cruise's dangerous stunt in which he drives a motorbike off a cliff is awe-inspiring, while the fight scenes between him and Morales on top of the film's purposely built steam train are nail-bitingly tense.

Read more: Tom Cruise did over 500 skydives for biggest stunt yet

As entertaining as Dead Reckoning is, though, it's hard not to also notice how incredibly long it is. Clocking in at almost three hours, the film feels weighed down by its runtime as well as the extensive amount of things that happen in it.

A still from the teaser for Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning - Part One. (Paramount Pictures)
Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson and Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning - Part One. (Paramount Pictures)

Audiences will be transported from the Arctic, to the US, to the desert, to Dubai, to Rome, to Venice, to Austria in quick succession, and there is so much plot thrown at them in the process that it is hard to keep track of it all — especially when even the characters aren't sure of what the key they're looking for opens.

What did other critics think of Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One?

The Telegraph - Tom Cruise saves the blockbuster yet again (4-min read)

Digital Spy - Mission: Impossible 7 doesn't live up to its spectacular action (5-min read)

The Wrap - Breathtaking Stunts Highlight a Top-Shelf Tom Cruise Sequel (6-min read)

Ethan's new nemesis Gabriel's motives are similarly difficult to understand, how did he come to follow The Entity? Why is he doing the AI's bidding? Perhaps this will all be explained in 2024's Part Two, but it feels important to note.

The film also does not do justice to one of the franchise's best characters: Rebecca Ferguson's Ilsa. She features in a stunning scene at the start of the film but afterwards is criminally underused.

Tom Cruise and Rebecca Ferguson in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning - Part One. (Paramount)
Tom Cruise and Rebecca Ferguson in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning - Part One. (Paramount) (Christian Black)

This seems to be so Atwell's Grace can shine, and while this is understandable to some degree, Grace feels like a replacement for Ilsa in Ethan's life and it is a real shame to see such a great character be wasted.

Read more: The Mission: Impossible films ranked from worst to best according to fans

While Dead Reckoning is the first of two parts, and does set the stage for the next film in the franchise, the film doesn't fall into the trap of just being a jumping off point for its sequel.

Thanks to its stunning action sequences and captivating performances, the film feels capable of standing out on its own merit, and it will be intriguing to see where Cruise takes it next.

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning part one is released in cinemas on Monday, 10 July.

Watch the trailer for Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One