By Chris “Boogie” Brown
Hollywood veteran and action icon Tom Cruise returns as the lead in the seventh installment of the wildly popular Mission Impossible series. Several long-time cast members from the franchise, as well as Director Chris McQuarrie, who directed the last two installments, “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” and “Mission Impossible: Fallout,” also make a comeback.
In “Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning,” “Ethan Hunt” is tasked with obtaining two halves of a certain item to prevent one of the most elite terrorist organizations in the world from acquiring them. When these two separate halves are combined, the possessor of this object will gain unlimited access to unlock, override, and manipulate the world’s digital network. The race to acquire these items pits Ethan and his team against dangerous terrorist factions and black-market arms dealers who will stop at nothing to obtain them and eliminate the IMF once and for all.
“Dead Reckoning” is another excellent installment in the Mission Impossible franchise that raises the bar for thrilling excitement, high-stakes espionage, and phenomenal action set pieces spanning the globe. With a runtime of 2 hours and 43 minutes, this film is massive, well-paced, and kept me engaged throughout. Alongside the spectacular action, Christopher McQuarrie and Erik Jendresen provide a cleverly crafted screenplay that includes fulfilling character arcs and timely subject matter.
Visually, the film is beautifully shot with incredible cinematography by Fraser Taggart, and the scale of “Dead Reckoning” is enormous. With a budget close to $300 million, a considerable portion is clearly visible in the stunning production design, gorgeous locations, and elaborate action sequences blending practical and CGI effects seamlessly.
As marketed, “Dead Reckoning” is the first chapter of a two-film finale, with the second chapter set to release next summer. However, even as one half of a larger story, the film feels complete and does not disappoint fans in terms of thrills, action, stunts, and surprising twists. In addition to the adrenaline-inducing elements, “Dead Reckoning” explores fleshed-out character development, the high stakes of the threat, and the resulting paranoia within the IMF team.
Unlike recent installments, “Dead Reckoning” is more cerebral and demands attentive listening to grasp the film’s direction. It eventually leads to a nerve-racking, extended set piece in the third act, one of the franchise’s most intense moments that will leave you on the edge of your seat. While the film ends with an inevitable cliffhanger, it is presented in a way that excites viewers for the next chapter of this grand finale.
“Dead Reckoning” features a talented cast, with both familiar and new faces. Henry Czerny returns to the franchise, giving an intense portrayal as “Eugen Kittridge,” the former director of the IMF last seen in 1996’s “Mission Impossible.” Ving Rhames is back as “Luther,” delivering his most powerful and emotional performance in the series to date. Simon Pegg returns as “Benji,” the computer tech whiz playing an integral role in the team. Rebecca Ferguson reprises her role as “Ilsa” and delivers another spirited performance following her appearances in “MI:5” and “MI:6.” Two notable newcomers shine in their franchise debuts.
Pom Klementieff portrays “Paris,” a French assassin with amazing action sequences showcasing her tactical prowess and fighting skills. While known for her role as “Mantis” in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Klementieff displays a completely different side in this film. Hayley Atwell joins as “Grace,” a clever thief entangled in this intricate tale of danger. Although Atwell is not new to television or film, her performance in “Dead Reckoning” can be considered a breakout.
Atwell captivates the screen, bringing cunning charm, comedic levity, fear, physicality, and emotion to her role as “Grace.” Her chemistry with Cruise’s “Ethan Hunt” adds to the captivating experience, from their early “cat and mouse” games to the more dangerous and thrilling moments they share on screen. Atwell is truly captivating.
Lastly, when it comes to Tom Cruise, there isn’t much to be said about his commitment to these films that you aren’t already aware of. Playing “Ethan Hunt” for over 27 years since 1996’s original “Mission Impossible,” Cruise once again gives his all, entertaining fans with excellent acting, extreme physicality, participation in death-defying stunts, and his ability to elevate everyone around him.
Cruise, a Hollywood veteran since 1981, at 61 years old, continues to show his contemporaries the levels of performance, realism, physicality, and commitment in these action blockbusters. Tom Cruise is a Machine.
Director Christopher McQuarrie does a masterful job helming the film and overseeing the intricate plot and enthralling sequences. McQuarrie brings out intense performances from his actors while building tension through shot selection, transitions, sound design, and Lorne Balfe’s brilliant score. From exhilarating car chases to shootouts, hand-to-hand combat, and the gripping third act finale, McQuarrie proves to be one of the best action directors in Hollywood today.
Although Tom Cruise has worked with several incredible directors, there is a certain chemistry between him and McQuarrie that captures cinematic magic every time. “Dead Reckoning” marks the ninth collaboration between McQuarrie and Cruise since 2008, be it directing, screenwriting, or producing. Their synergy translates exceptionally well to the screen.
If I have any criticism, it would be that the plot can occasionally feel convoluted due to dense exposition explaining the villain’s intentions. However, paying close attention and exercising patience will be rewarded as the motives become clearer throughout the film.
Moreover, some viewers may not completely buy into the primary villainous threat in this Mission Impossible film. Nevertheless, this angle feels more timely, realistic, and problematic than the typical film villain with a generic evil plan found in most movies of this genre.
In terms of ranking, “Mission Impossible: Fallout” and “Mission Impossible III” remain my personal top two favorites. However, “Dead Reckoning” and “Rogue Nation” are neck and neck for third place. This installment upholds the franchise’s tradition with great storytelling, non-stop thrills, action, and excitement.
As a lifelong fan of movies, I love the entertainment they provide and enjoy discussing and writing about them. However, the initial form of escapism provided by the theatrical experience is my favorite connection to movies. Films like “Dead Reckoning” exemplify why we go to the theater and pay extra for a premium format like IMAX, Dolby Cinema, XD, or 4DX. We don’t just watch Mission Impossible Films – we experience them!
Between last year’s “Top Gun: Maverick” and now “Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning,” Tom Cruise has delivered an amazing one-two punch for fans of epic action movies, providing an exhilarating theatrical experience. While fans will forever debate the specific ranking of these movies, we can all agree on the level of care, craftsmanship, and quality that goes into them.
The consistency and high production values of the Mission Impossible films remain a priority for Tom Cruise, and “Dead Reckoning” further solidifies this collection as one of the greatest action franchises of all time. “Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning” hits theaters on July 12th and comes highly recommended. Enjoy!