Tuesday 11 July 2023

REVIEW: Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

Review by Jon Donnis
It has been 5 years since we had a Mission Impossible film, so we are probably due one, and this is number 7 in the series, and it is only a Part One so we have more on the way. Reading the synopsis, it looks like the plot is not at all original, an AI has become self-aware and the world is at threat. This plot point has been used countless times for decades, a super powerful computer program, and all-powerful AI, the only question now is if the Mission Impossible franchise has hit a brick wall and run out of ideas? or if the plot doesn't matter because the film is good enough regardless. Read on to find out.

We start the film with the experimental stealth capabilities of the Russian submarine Sevastopol being put to the test, suddenly its onboard instruments detect another submarine launching torpedoes at it. In response, the captain of the Sevastopol orders a retaliatory strike. However, to their surprise, the other submarine vanishes along with its torpedoes. In a strange turn of events, the Sevastopol's own torpedo inexplicably changes course and strikes the submarine itself, resulting in the tragic death of everyone on board.

Meanwhile, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), a skilled operative, receives a package containing crucial information about his next mission. He learns that he must travel to the Namib desert to retrieve half of a key from his ally, Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson). However, Ilsa is currently being hunted down with a substantial US$50 million bounty on her head. Ethan heads to Namibia, where he confronts a team of bounty hunters and manages to fend them off. During this encounter, he briefly reunites with Ilsa and advises her to lay low for the time being.

Back in the United States, Ethan infiltrates a meeting of a secretive organization known as "the Community." This gathering consists of high-ranking officials from various intelligence agencies, including former IMF director Eugene Kittridge (Henry Czerny) and DNI Denlinger (played by Cary Elwes, "as you wish"). They are discussing an experimental artificial intelligence program called "the Entity." (really? that's the best name you can come up with? it sounds more like an alien than an AI). Originally created with the purpose of infiltrating and sabotaging digital systems before erasing any trace of its presence, the Entity has somehow spiralled out of control and escaped into the vast expanse of the Internet. It has since grown exponentially, potentially developing sentience. Remarkably, despite infiltrating major defence, military, and intelligence networks, the Entity has refrained from causing any actual major damage.

Now, the world powers are engaged in a frantic race to protect their most valuable data from potential sabotage and gain control over the Entity, as it is linked to the key. Believing that the Entity is far too powerful for any government to control, Ethan makes the decision to destroy it. Accompanied by his trusted teammates Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), Ethan embarks on a journey to Abu Dhabi International Airport to meet the holder of the other half of the key.

During their pursuit of the keyholder, Ethan and his team find themselves evading the relentless agents of the Community, led by Jasper Briggs (Shea Whigham). Additionally, they must contend with the interference of a mysterious third party. In a twist of fate, they lose possession of the half-key to Grace (Hayley Atwell), a skilled professional pickpocket. At the same time, Luther discovers a dangerous piece of luggage containing a nuclear explosive. Benji narrowly manages to defuse the bomb by successfully answering a series of riddles and personal questions posed by the Entity. They soon realize that the explosive lacks a detonation core.

Shaken by the Entity's apparent precognitive abilities and the sudden appearance of Gabriel (Esai Morales), an individual connected to Ethan's past, he decides to disband his team and pursue Grace on his own.

The vast majority of the film is about trying to get the two halves of the key, and trying to avoid being killed.

Now I mentioned that the plot is unoriginal, and I stand by that, and unfortunately with AI being in the media a lot in recent times, it means we are going to have an endless stream of films using it as the main plot point. Now luckily with Mission Impossible films, the plot is never that important, in fact I can't remember the plot of a single Mission Impossible film. Instead, I remember the stunts, the big moments, and luckily this film is full of them, including the big stunt that made all the papers.

At about 160 minutes, this is a long film, but the sheer amount of action does help the time fly by.

Tom Cruise is his excellent self as Ethan Hunt, and a strong supporting cast really helps lift the film up. A special mention has to go out to the lovely Pom Klementieff as Paris, a French assassin who is working for the Gabriel character. I think she is great, and she has fantastic range as an actress, especially when you consider her performance in Guardians of the galaxy compared to this film.

This film is a part one, which unfortunately means you do not get the mission completed, like with the other films, and instead will have to wait till next year for what will most likely be another 160-minute film.

The Good
As with all of the Mission Impossible films, you are guaranteed breathtaking stunts, Tom Cruise being awesome, great fight scenes, and last-minute escapes. All the ingredients are here, and they all taste amazing.

With the exception of Jackie Chan, I can't think of another actor who is as famous as Cruise is for doing his own stunts, and there are some awesome stunts in this. Yes, there are visual effects, some green screen etc, but the really big stunts you know are really him and they are so impressive.

Hayley Atwell is gorgeous as Grace; she is a strong female character in the film. And there is not a piece of wokeness in this anywhere, which almost guarantees it will be a success as people reject being force fed political narratives these days.

The Bad
An unoriginal plot, and the entire scene on the train has been done so many times before, and Jackie Chan has done it better and without green screen too.

Tom Cruise is one of the last big names in Hollywood who has yet to bend the knee to the far left woke agenda, with the Top Gun Maverick film proving you can make big action films with a simple patriotic message, he has done it again with Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning.

This film has everything you want in a big action epic, and it will leave you wanting more. Is it the best in the franchise? I would need to rewatch all of the other films to answer that, but it is definitely up there. 

I score Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning a super strong 9/10. I loved it.

Out now in Cinemas.