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‘Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One’ is the Shot of Adrenaline You Need

(Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)


The bombastic action franchise “Mission: Impossible” has crashed back into theaters with its seventh installment, “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One.” The series began in 1996 as a revival of the 1960s show of the same name. Over time, it has evolved to become a showcase for genuinely mind-blowing stunts performed by actor Tom Cruise. Whether he’s climbing the tallest building in the world or hanging onto the side of a flying plane, Cruise seems willing to do anything. Because of this, audiences have returned with each new installment to see what Cruise will do next. “Dead Reckoning” has promised insane action in its trailers, but is there anything beyond it that’s worth the price of admission?

In “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One,” Ethan Hunt and his IMF team race to find the key to an advanced technological threat against forces seeking to use it for world domination.

Next Level Directing

Director and writer Christopher McQuarrie has now been a creative partner with Cruise for over a decade. They’ve worked together outside of “Mission: Impossible” on pieces like the hugely successful “Top Gun: Maverick.” Their adrenaline-fueled minds have crafted some of the biggest blockbusters of the last few years. Watching McQuarrie upgrade his directing with each of his films has been a treat.

Here, McQuarrie takes inspiration from the style of Brian De Palma, the director of the 1996 original. “Dead Reckoning” is packed with Dutch angles, moody lighting and creative blocking that inject each scene with as much tension as possible. While the flick still features tons of epic action sequences the series is known for, McQuarrie also adds claustrophobic, tight-quarters action moments that feel fresh. A particularly memorable scene featuring this was a brutal tussle in an exceptionally thin alleyway. 

As for the larger-than-life action scenes, while I loved all of them, I never felt quite as engaged in them as I did in the previous installment, “Fallout.” For example, both films feature extended car chases through the packed streets of European countries. In “Fallout,” it’s a nail-biting experience watching Cruise weave through traffic while being shot at. In “Dead Reckoning,” it’s a lot of loud crashes and booms that don’t get very interesting until our heroes are forced to drive a small yellow Fiat 500 that has a mind of its own.

(Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

It’s fun, but pretty ordinary action movie material. The final act holds the best of the stunts, including an “edge of your seat” train sequence and a motorcycle stunt that left me breathless.

The majority of the cast are returning members from the previous installment who all naturally fall back into their roles with ease. Cruise gets to show a slightly darker side to Ethan in a way that hasn’t been seen since the original. For the new cast members, the standout is Hayley Atwell as Grace, a devious and clever thief who slowly discovers the high-stakes situation she’s been forced into. Atwell not only delivers some charming spunk but also a fearful sadness as she sinks into the dangerous world of espionage. Newcomer Pom Klementieff is also entertaining as a twisted assassin set on killing Ethan. I only wish she had been given more screen time.

It would feel wrong to not mention the score composed by Lorne Balfe. It keeps the film’s momentum speeding forward even when it’s just a scene of characters talking. Comprised of pounding marching band drums, the movie’s music makes sure the intensity of every moment is at 110%.

A Danger All Too Real

The new threat introduced in “Dead Reckoning” was my favorite aspect of the film. It felt refreshingly silly while also frighteningly topical and real. I’ll try to refrain from spoiling, but the threat is essentially artificial intelligence. Not the metal exoskeleton with guns type like in “The Terminator,” but the far more authentic version that lives in our phones.

It’s a simple fact that A.I. is becoming more and more prevalent in our society with every passing day. “Dead Reckoning” takes a firm stance in proclaiming that’s not a good thing. Being someone who shares a similar stance, I was equally amused and chilled by the movie’s portrayal of the ultimate A.I. entity, and the harm it could inflict on the world.

While it’s definitely a bit goofier than the threat of nuclear warfare featured in “Fallout,” the use of an A.I. antagonist is haunting and feels like something that has already begun to infect society in real life. I’m sure many will leave “Dead Reckoning” with no intention of changing their electronic and internet habits, but I am dead set on installing a VPN as fast as I can.

(Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

“Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One” is not as tight of a film as some of its predecessors, running at a lengthy two hours and 43 minutes. Yet, it’s still leagues better than the majority of blockbusters that have been released this year. Though weighed down by some dense scenes of exposition, “Dead Reckoning” still moves at a solidly fast pace that keeps the heart pumping. It displays astonishing action and stunts that you just won’t see in other big-budget blockbusters.

It’s not as amazing as “Fallout,” but “Mission: Impossible —Dead Reckoning Part One” leaves you sure to be seated on opening weekend for the next installment.


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About the Contributor
Graham Jones, Arts Writer, Audio Producer
Graham Jones was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and moved to Utah to study film. Despite his passion for cinema, Graham joined the Chronicle to engage with the University of Utah community and pursue his love for journalism. Outside of the student media office, Graham can be found buried deep into the pages of a graphic novel or lip-syncing to the greatest hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s.

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    E. BrownJul 18, 2023 at 8:27 am

    Outstanding; compelling writing. Can’t wait to see the movie.