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Tom Cruise’s Dead Reckoning? An impressive, impossible mission: Movie Review

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Making a seventh action movie in a 27-year-old action franchise sounds like it would be an impossible mission, right?

Not for Tom Cruise.

Filled with outstanding action, endless excitement, and a tense, high stakes plot, Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One's only real flaws are how pointlessly long both its title and run time are.

Superstar Tom Cruise returns as IMF secret agent Ethan Hunt in his biggest, most colossal spy adventure yet when he and his team must race to stop an AI computer that can hack government computers and rule the world. 

It sounds silly, but the co-writer/director Christopher McQuarrie's script is written carefully so the real-world danger and ramifications are taken seriously and never for comedy. This commitment from creatives and cast is what makes the movie as gripping and successful as it is.

The plot is complicated and is in no hurry to finish the mission, though each episode is well thought out. This is just part one of two (the second half comes out next summer 2024), and the main focus of this half is a race between Ethan and various bad guys to get both halves of a special key - a literal key to access the AI itself and shut it down.

Matching the crazy plot are the ensemble’s dense conversations on the ethics of peacekeeping and who’s really on whose side. Again, while overlong, the tension and conflicts are effectively clear that they complement the action and stunts well.

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Lots of outstanding action scenes keep up the energy, but there surprisingly few high production stunts as teased in the marketing. That is, until we get to the climactic train sequence. It's hard to describe and justly praise without spoiling, but know this: the finale alone makes Dead Reckoning 1 worth seeing - it's the best scene of any movie this year.

Cruise still holds his own and makes his character actor and stuntman work look easy, but the female spies often steal the show. Franchise newcomer Haley Atwell (Peggy Carter in the Marvel Universe) as Grace and Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa have equally great fights and moments on screen.

As mentioned, the only real issue is that all this excitement is just the warm-up for the big showdown in next June's part two. Part one, at nearly three hours, is just too long. It also feels even longer knowing this is only the first half to this mind-numbing spy fest.

Case in point: the editors know how expansive this film and its two halves will be - because they chose to add the opening titles more than half an hour into the movie.

Comparing this to Cruise's last summer blockbuster, the story of Dead Reckoning Part One is more broad than last summer’s technically flawless Top Gun: Maverick, but spy movies are more complicated by nature.

Either way, this is the most entertaining and expansive action movie of the summer season, including the best story and best stunts. If you're looking for high-octane escapism, this is the mission for you.

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One

8 out of 10

PG, 2hrs 43mins. Spy Action Adventure Epic.

Co-written and Directed by Christopher McQuarrie.

Starring Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Esai Morales, Henry Czerney, Vanessa Kirby and Rebecca Ferguson.

Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, 5 Drive-In, Cineplex Winston Churchill & VIP and Cineplex Oakville & VIP. Also in IMAX.