Movie Review: Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One

The long-running action series turns out a winner thanks to slapstick action and lots of it.


It’s not the best movie or the smartest movie — but it is certainly the most movie.

“Dead Reckoning Part One,” the seventh overall installment in the three-decade “Mission: Impossible” series, is overstuffed to the point of near absurdity. There are more set pieces than the recent “Indiana Jones” and “Fast and Furious” chapters combined. There are moments borrowed from the greatest hits of cinema history, ranging from “Battleship Potemkin” to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Tom Cruise does something that should get him killed at least half a dozen times.

It’s just a ton of movie.

This particular Mission is Impossible because the villain is post-human: A rogue, sentient AI that can take over pretty much any connected device, anywhere in the world. The algorithm stretches its legs in a thrilling pre-credits sequence by causing a Russian sub to destroy itself then sets about the business of taking over the world.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), along with the friends and associates who are yet to be killed by all these antics — most notably Hayley Atwell, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames and Rebecca Ferguson — get in on the action as Cruise races around the world in pursuit of a fancy two-part key that will allow him to disable the AI (maybe). Meanwhile, the malignant software has some human allies, including a cold-blooded terrorist (Esai Morales) and his sidekick (Pom Klementieff, who steals the show).

The action is expertly filmed — Christopher McQuarrie directs, and Fraser Taggart is the cinematographer — and walks a very deliberate line between slapstick and serious. I haven’t always been enraptured by the “Mission: Impossible” series, but the key difference here is how compelling the action is. Whenever things escalate (which happens reliably every 15 minutes or so), it works.

Does the plot hold up? Well enough, I suppose. It’s all the same as it has ever been: a world-ending threat, a series of heists and fights, long odds and double crosses. What happens in these movies is incidental; it’s all about how it happens.

And how it happens is pretty fun.

My Rating: 8/10

“Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One” is now playing in theaters.

Categories: The 412