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    “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One” Review: Tom Cruise Amplifies Electrifying Action while the Story Takes a Backseat

    Tom Cruise returns with an exhilarating performance in Christopher McQuarrie's action-packed blockbuster, joined by a stellar cast, in the thrilling first installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise's seventh entry.

    Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One, the first chapter of the monumental two-part seventh installment in the illustrious $3.5 billion franchise, astounded audiences when a meticulously planned and executed stunt sequence featuring Tom Cruise as the iconic superspy, Ethan Hunt, was unveiled online last December. This extended clip showcased Cruise driving a motorcycle off a towering cliff, freefalling 4,000 feet into a ravine, and skillfully BASE jumping the final 500 feet to the ground while separating from the bike.

    Most action thrillers would reserve such a jaw-dropping feat for the actual film release, hoping to preserve its impact by avoiding leaks. However, director Christopher McQuarrie, in his third directorial venture, has packed the espionage saga with an abundance of breathtaking stunt sequences, visceral fights, intense gunplay, and exhilarating high-speed chases, ensuring an enthralling experience that captivates the audience from start to finish.

    The film’s unrelenting adrenaline rush serves as both its strength and its weakness. Comparing the first part of Dead Reckoning with Brian De Palma’s exceptional 1996 debut, which elevated the CIA’s covert Impossible Missions Force from its television origins to the grandeur of the silver screen, offers an illuminating perspective on how audience expectations have evolved over the past 27 years—or more accurately, how major studios have shaped those expectations.


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    Tom Cruise’s portrayal of Ethan Hunt has evolved into a character who bears the weight of his experiences, displaying the weariness and emotional scars that come with immense loss. Cruise’s unwavering commitment to delivering practical and authentic stunts, prioritizing execution over digital effects, has only intensified over the years. Cruise is a performer who consistently satisfies his audience, and that includes copious amounts of running—so much running.

    In this regard, Dead Reckoning Part One delivers spectacularly. Although certain elements of storytelling craftsmanship may have been sacrificed along the way, it is unlikely that the dedicated fan base will mind. McQuarrie, who co-wrote the screenplay with Erik Jendresen (an Emmy-winning writer for Band of Brothers), invests so heavily in the continuous barrage of awe-inspiring set pieces that the narrative connecting these sequences becomes nearly disposable.

    At times, it seems as though McQuarrie has distilled the most exhilarating components not only from the Mission: Impossible series but also from the Bond and Bourne franchises, seamlessly threading them into a captivating showcase. The film’s structure offers less of a story demanding a two-part presentation—this installment runs for two hours and forty-five minutes—than a realization that McQuarrie and Cruise have a multitude of mind-blowing stunts to execute and new picturesque locations in which to unleash their chaos.


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    Capitalizing on the current zeitgeist of anxiety, the plot revolves around rogue artificial intelligence—the “perfect covert operation”—and the suave and sinister terrorist, Gabriel (Esai Morales), who seeks to control it.

    The AI development possesses the power to render individuals and war vessels undetectable, to turn allies into enemies, to seize control of defense systems and manipulate global financial markets. It has transformed into a sentient monster that possesses knowledge about everyone and everything, only controllable through a cruciform key consisting of two precious jewels lost in the cataclysmic Russian submarine disaster that kicks off the movie.

    The pursuit to locate the two halves of the key and merge them to subdue the renegade AI forms the central motivation for the globe-trotting adventure. While the plot serves its purpose, it is often diluted amidst the riveting action sequences, with Ethan and his team trudging through exposition-heavy scenes, solemnly discussing “The Entity,” as it has come to be known. Menacing statements like “Whoever controls the Entity controls the truth” are thrown around, effectively posing a tangible threat to global order.

    However, when the digital mega-brain is finally revealed, resembling a gargantuan pulsating cyber sphincter, the gravity of the situation veers into the realm of absurdity. By this point, if viewers are still meticulously tracking the intricacies of the key’s whereabouts, whether they are genuine or counterfeit, who possesses them, and how the IMF team plans to retrieve them, they deserve commendation.


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    Following the series’ peak with 2018’s Fallout, where McQuarrie struck an ideal balance between story, character development, and turbocharged spectacle, this particular aspect of Dead Reckoning is, admittedly, disappointing. If De Palma’s Mission: Impossible was perceived as overly convoluted, the storyline here is an absolute labyrinth. Nevertheless, as soon as Ethan engages in a relentless duel with highly trained assassins in the narrow alleys of Venice or partakes in a myriad of other breathtaking sequences set in picturesque locations, concerns about the convoluted plot take a backseat.

    Furthermore, the film compensates for its storytelling deficiencies through its stellar cast, glossy production values, and consistently mind-blowing action sequences. Gabriel’s intention to inflict harm on Ethan by targeting his loved ones provides genuine emotional moments, even if McQuarrie seldom lingers on them for too long.

    In a nostalgic and fitting gesture, Henry Czerny reprises his role as Kittridge, Ethan’s prickly CIA superior, returning from the De Palma film. Kittridge brings with him a personal history intertwined with Ethan’s and an intimate understanding of the agent’s past, adding tension when Hunt once again goes rogue on this new mission. Vanessa Kirby’s alluring arms dealer Alanna, also known as the White Widow, reemerges from Fallout, further connecting the narrative to the franchise’s inaugural entry through her familial ties.

    Rebecca Ferguson, in her most powerful portrayal yet, continues to imbue her character, MI6 agent Ilsa Faust, with intelligence, quick reflexes, and an undeniable chemistry with Cruise’s Ethan. Faust’s journey first finds her holed up in the Arabian desert with a $50 million bounty on her head. Ethan’s loyal companions, the witty field agent Benji (Simon Pegg), and the expert hacker Luther (Ving Rhames), make their return, supplying humor and technical expertise to the team’s endeavors. Luther’s ability to effortlessly utter phrases like “Ethan, you’re playing four-dimensional chess with an algorithm!” showcases his remarkable talent.


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    The standout newcomer, Hayley Atwell as Grace, infuses the narrative with a flirty and tantalizing dynamic as she develops a cat-and-mouse relationship with Ethan. Grace, a British master thief who rose above poverty, embodies a cheerfully amoral opportunist seeking to acquire the key and sell it to the highest bidder. However, she soon finds herself entangled in Ethan’s mission, thrust into a series of perilous situations where her resourcefulness shines.

    Among the various characters pursuing them—both U.S. intelligenceagents and Gabriel’s ruthless hit squad—one figure stands out: Paris (played by Pom Klementieff), an ice-cold assassin who commands an armored truck with lethal precision. With her platinum blond hair, pleated plaid skirt, and snug leather jacket, she becomes an instantly iconic action figure.

    Paris’s pursuit of Ethan and Grace leads to one of the film’s most memorable set-pieces—a wild chase through the cobbled streets of Rome, where the duo hilariously squeezes into a yellow Fiat 500. The exhilarating ride conveniently showcases nearly every major tourist attraction before culminating in a breathtaking sequence on the Spanish Steps. Another suspenseful moment unfolds during a swanky party at the Palazzo Ducale in Venice, where the city’s bridges and canals serve as the backdrop for high-stakes drama. The action seamlessly transitions from the early desert scenes to a thrilling race against the clock at Abu Dhabi Airport, with Cruise navigating the undulating roof of the new Midfield Terminal.


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    The climactic action sequence pays homage to the original film, featuring a showdown among almost all the principal characters aboard a runaway train—the Orient Express hurtling toward Innsbruck. As we bear witness to yet another rooftop confrontation aboard a high-speed train, we can’t help but wonder, “Why do villains always gravitate toward perilous train rooftops?” Unlike the infamous scene in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, this heart-stopping sequence is not marred by glaring CGI. In fact, it even includes a clever nod to The Poseidon Adventure, complete with a tumbling grand piano.

    In terms of pure entertainment, the film delivers in spades. Editor Eddie Hamilton maintains breathless pacing, while cinematographer Fraser Taggart’s dynamic camerawork keeps the visuals fluid and captivating. Much of the film’s propulsive energy can be attributed to Lorne Balfe’s exhilarating musical score, which perfectly complements the action on screen.

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