Mission: Impossible- Dead Reckoning Part One – Film Review

‘Your life will always matter to me more than my own’ are seductive words to convince anyone to trust Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt in the latest Mission: Impossible instalment. Indeed, trust is a key component of this latest journey for Ethan in a high octane adventure, which romanticises the mission for the IMF team amidst combating unseen evils. Yet, this seventh instalment is the most sentimental with friendship at its heart, ongoing philosophical debates surrounding choice and fate plus cinematographically mesmerising locations to provoke that wanderlust. Somehow, amongst all of the world saving antics, this McQuarrie-Cruise collaboration injects some humour that the franchise lacked of late. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning reveals its title’s origins early via an opening sequence that is at once a homage to the first film whilst simultaneously capturing the threats of a new world terror connected to technological advancements. Dead Reckoning does not disappoint with its past and future insights, but unfortunately, the fast-paced action sequences are too few. The voiceover also serves as a departure from the franchise in this love letter.

As such, Dead Reckoning will succeed in attracting new audiences. Cleverly, the film unveils Ethan’s own backstory with throwbacks to his first mission that he chose to accept, compared to the alternative. Additionally, there are other embedded images of that early outing’s action sequences from Brian De Palma’s classic with fight sequences on a train and the tilting of camera angles serving as that homage.

The homage continues with the return of Ethan’s loyal team of Luther, Ving Rhames, and Benji, Simon Pegg, and other familiar faces from Rogue Nation and Fallout such as Ilsa Faust, Rebecca Ferguson, and the White Widow, a chilling Vanessa Kirby. Still, as much as Dead Reckoning offers that nostalgic re-union and returns to an espionage focus, the opportunity for re-invention has been exploited within Dead Reckoning.

Thus, this juxtaposition creates intrigue within its riveting pace. Old friends are pitted against new friends, the codes and rituals of the new world glamour are pitted against old fashioned codes of honour and ultimately there is that blurred morality line between good and evil as well as the importance of the mission compared to the lives of individuals. All of which may sound thematically heavy but Dead Reckoning still finds the time for daylight high speed chases in Rome reminiscent of John Wick 4’s foray in Paris and for slapstick comedy routines involving a yellow Fiat car, which somehow works to provide that comic relief. Although this timing of humour within the throes of a high speed chase for freedom will raise eyebrows.

Tom Cruise and Hayley Atwell in Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning
Tom Cruise and Hayley Atwell in Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning

Nevertheless, there are beautiful locations traversed, Abu Dhabi, Rome, Venice, to ratchet up the entertainment, whilst Ethan and team race to connect another half of a puzzle, which is fitting given that this film is uniquely the first half of a two parter for the Mission: Impossible franchise. Prepare to be impressed by spectacular scenes in the Arabian desert with that trademark run by Ethan captured in full glory in a wide angle shot on an airport roof. These captivating scenes add to the film’s allure and romanticism to build up to one of Cruise’s most dangerous stunts in a career built on performing his own stunts.

The language used within this chapter also invokes that sense of romanticism. Life philosophies are randomly exchanged between characters. However, Ethan’s belief that none of his team are expendable for the sake of the mission, is a commendable choice by McQuarrie to inject that empathy and emotional stakes. Such romanticism also steeps in to the choice of weapons for combat with thrilling set pieces wielding samurai swords by night on a Venetian bridge. As such, a different form of romance penetrates the film eschewing the conventional romantic relationship dynamics. Dead Reckoning is a better film as a result, which allows the enjoyable repartee of the cat and mouse flirtation dynamics to unfold.

It is fascinating watching romantic Venice being represented from an underground, gritty perspective reminiscent of the labyrinthine chases within the thriller Don’t Look Now. Indeed, there are several homages to cinema classics, to Inception, and of course references to the British Secret Service, MI6, conjuring up similarities to the iconic James Bond. That British connection does continue in the arrival of newcomer Grace, Hayley Atwell, who is at times charmingly irritating but represents that cynical, untrusting viewpoint of the mission. Plus, there is a French connection in the maniac Paris, brilliantly played by Pom Klementieff, with her Harley Quinn style makeup and obvious glee at crushing everything in her path whilst chasing Ethan.

Perhaps these newcomers will herald a new era for the IMF team with more women involved in the action. Clearly, the franchise is heading in a new direction with Ethan’s empathetic determination to save the world from being controlled by technology. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning is a stylish, enthralling entry and whilst it may not be as captivating as Rogue Nation or Fallout, there is still that eager anticipation to view its second part which is awaited with bated breath.

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