Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning – Part One

Dead Reckoning Poster
Dead Reckoning poster uploaded to theposterdb.com by MBF

Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning – Part One is the premiere action movie of 2023. It might very well be one-half of the greatest action story of the decade. Starring Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Hayley Atwell, and Rebecca Ferguson, Dead Reckoning is a nearly 3-hour thrill ride that doesn’t stop. While it is only half of the story, the movie is still the complete package in terms of fun and entertainment.  

This past week I decided that I would binge the entire Mission Impossible franchise from start to finish. Let me tell you – I won’t be doing that again for Dead Reckoning Part Two because it is coming out next year (as of now at least) and this will still be fresh enough in my brain. But what I learned from this marathon is that the Mission Impossible series has survived all the growing pains of a typical tentpole franchise. 

Compare Mission Impossible to something like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s got similar budgets, scope, scale, and brand recognition. If you cast aside all the surface-level differences (comic book vs straight action) and the main differences are volume and frequency. What started out for both franchises was just a couple of movies but then the MCU got crazy with it. We now expect at least two if not three MCU entries per YEAR. That’s insane!

While it is only half of the story, the movie is still the complete package in terms of fun and entertainment.  

But Mission Impossible went the other direction. Quality over quantity was their recipe. With directorial talents like Brian De Palma, John freaking Woo, JJ Abrams, Brad Bird, and Christopher McQuarrie, fresh ideas and ways to push the envelope have never been in short supply. The question was always “How do we make another good movie?” and not “How do we top that?”. Focusing on the first question allows them to answer the second one organically. 

Mission Impossible always focuses on a good story with compelling villains and exceptional set pieces. Because of that, the sense of urgency is always there whereas the MCU has lost that almost entirely. Can’t really come back from half the universe turning to dust and expect me to care anymore. 

But that’s enough about the MCU vs. Mission Impossible. It’s clear which one I enjoy more. But what made Dead Reckoning so damn good? Is it the star power that Tom Cruise brings to every project? Was it the excellent screenplay co-written by director Chris McQuarrie? Could it be the incredible scale and scope of this adventure? The answer is yes. 

Mission Impossible always focuses on a good story with compelling villains and exceptional set pieces.

Tom Cruise, for all his faults, is a fan of movies. His entire professional existence is dedicated to perfecting his craft and I respect the hell out of him for that. Say what you will about the off-screen stuff, it’s all been said two or three times anyway. There is nothing less than an A-game for him. And he expects the same level of commitment from his co-stars.

Ving Rhames has been a staple of this series as Luther for decades and he is probably my second favorite character. He’s just a solid dude in every appearance. Simon Pegg might be the perfect comedic relief character as Benji. And Rebecca Ferguson, oh my. I have really enjoyed her run in these movies since she first came in on Rogue Nation. Newcomer Hayley Atwell is a fun addition to the cast, but I don’t think I can judge her performance until I see her complete arc in the second part. 

The story of Dead Reckoning is 100% influenced by the modern-day 2023 villain that is “AI”. It’s been a long time coming and has been done several times already but none of them have done it quite like this. It’s like they saw that one episode of Cowboy Bebop and ramped it up about a million percent. The way that McQuarrie takes the cast from point A to point B is stunning. Car chases, fight scenes, authentic feeling spycraft, and a remarkable return to the analog world. It might not age as well as nuclear bombs or foreign nationals, but it is damn effective in today’s era. 

Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning – Part One is an amazing movie and one of Tom Cruise’s best. The star-studded cast and passion for moviemaking are front and center in every scene. The breathtaking stuntwork and impressive choreography of every fight sequence keep you on the edge of your seat. The IMAX experience was edge-to-edge, full-screen action, and adrenaline in its purest form. 

Score: 97/100

Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie

Released: 2023

Studio: Paramount

Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Hayley Atwell

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