There is something about this film that I really liked but hated at the same time. I can’t quite say the film lives up to the legendary standard that the forth through sixth films set. For every scene in the film that I adored, and believe me there were many, there was usually at least one other moment that felt just a bit out of place. Part of that comes down to my own expectations but I can’t help but think Christopher McQuarrie bit off a little bit more than he could chew with this film. Having said that, the action set pieces are some of the best you will ever see with mostly practical effects which adds to the realism these films portray.
Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team must track down a terrifying new weapon that threatens humanity before it falls into the wrong hands. The weapon is called “the Entity”, a rogue artificial intelligence that can manipulate information and control technology. The Entity is everywhere and nowhere, and it has a mind of its own. Ethan has to find the key that can unlock its secrets. The key is split into two pieces and hidden in different locations. Along the way, he faces a mysterious and powerful enemy named Gabriel (Esai Morales), who wants to use the Entity for his own nefarious purposes.
The film can be summed up into 4 big action sequences. There’s a Red October inspired submarine sequence at the beginning that I really liked, a prolonged airport sequence and a car chase through Rome both of which I absolutely loved as well as the climactic set piece of the film set on a train that I found to be absolutely beautifully choreographed and shot. But I’ve got to be honest the big set piece that all of the marketing has been hyping up left me a bit cold. It’s gorgeously shot and jaw dropping in scale but it’s over so quickly that I barely had any time to take it in. The difference between this film and the previous installments was that Tom had more solo stunts going on which never goes according to plan, so there is that uncertainty. This movie having a much broader and bigger storyline also gives more screentime to the supporting cast. It is not all about Tom Cruise in this film which is a slight deviation from the previous films.
Another issue here is that script doesn’t always justify these set pieces in a natural way, this is something the other films excelled at and was sorely missing here. I had no doubt Ethan had the climb the Burj Khalifa in Ghost Protocol or that he had to fly that helicopter in Fallout’s third act because the scripts of those movies weaved them into the narrative seamlessly. Here it can frequently come across as contrived and as such these sequences can feel a bit jarring when looking back on the film as a whole.
The cinematography is stunning with a great score, tight editing and McQuarrie continues the tradition he set up with totally changing his style from the last film. The film seems to look like the first Mission Impossible film and it feels like PART two will be a full circle for Ethan Hunt’s character. The story was not quite as strong as it could’ve been. The main device that the whole story was built around was certainly interesting and I did buy into the threat that it posed to all the characters but after a while it did come across as a bit too much of a convenient way to help drive the plot forwards in ways that weren’t always natural. There’s a central mystery that most of the story is based around and I expected the answer to be much bigger than it actually was, maybe that will be explained in the next part. At no point did we see the full potential threat of the device except for the characters fear towards it.
Although this is an action movie, the characters we have been following thru the franchise as well as the new characters are what sets this movie apart from others. Tom Cruise is at his best as Ethan Hunt, making us care about his mission and choices, even when they seem impossible. Hayley Atwell is a great addition to the cast as Grace. She is a strong, smart character who challenges Ethan and helps him. Esai Morales is a formidable villain as Gabriel, with a ruthless ambition. He is cold and menacing but also charismatic and intriguing. Rebecca Ferguson returns as Ilsa Faust, who has a complex and emotional bond with Ethan. She is a fierce and loyal ally but also a potential threat. The rest of the cast is also excellent, with Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Vanessa Kirby, and Henry Czerny reprising their roles from previous films. Pom Klementieff’s character was the most interesting to me because she really felt like one of those old school Bond henchmen from the classic spy movies that McQuarrie is clearly taking inspiration from.
Dead Reckoning is a summer blockbuster we have all been waiting for. There are some questions that won’t be answered until part two and it does fall victim to some of the drawbacks that come being the first half of a story. It is hard for any Mission Impossible movie to top Fallout or Ghost Protocol. Nevertheless, it delivers everything you want from an action movie: thrilling stunts, stunning visuals, engaging characters, smart plot twists, and emotional stakes. Dead Reckoning Part two is slated to release on June 28, 2024.