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Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

As it approaches three decade, this seventh entry of the franchise is starting to give off fatigue with its aging stars

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

Release Date: July 12, 2023
Runtime: 02:43
Synopsis:
Ethan Hunt and his IMF team must track down a dangerous weapon before it falls into the wrong hands.
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The IMF team races to prevent control of a sentient A.I. from falling into the wrong hands in Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One. A powerful artificial intelligent program known as The Entity becomes sentient and infiltrates the major defence, military systems, and intelligence networks of the world. Ethan Hunt () is given a mission by CIA director Eugene Kittridge () to locate the two halves of a cruciform key that can access The Entity's source code.

Hunt and his team of Luther Stickell (), Benji Dunn (), and Ilsa Faust () try to recover the key before it is acquired by Gabriel (), a mysterious man from Ethan's past, who is working on behalf of The Entity along with French assassin Paris (). During the mission, Ethan crosses paths with expert thief Grace (Hayley Atwell), who was hired to acquire the key for the arms dealer Alanna Mitsopolis (), aka The White Widow.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One Synopsis

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is the seventh entry of the now 27-year-old Mission: Impossible film franchise, which in turn is based on the 1960s TV series. The film is once again co-written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who was previously at the helm for 2015's Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and 2018's Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Missible: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One was originally announced as being part of a two-part finale for the franchise, though it remains to be seen if this is truly the end.

While the franchise always utilized technology that doesn't exist in the world, particularly the ability to wear incredibly realistic masks, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One crosses the line into science fiction by having the antagonist be a sentient A.I. known as The Entity, who uses to mysterious man Gabriel to ensure that it achieves world domination. It is up to Ethan Hunt and his IMF team to put a stop to Gabriel and The Entity, all while being pursued by government agents Jasper Briggs () and Degas ().

My Thoughts on Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One begins with perhaps the longest cold open of the franchise, with nearly half and half of the 2h43m film going by before the opening credits roll. This includes an exposition-heavy scene featuring β€œThe Collective,” a group of representatives of various intelligence agencies led by Director of National Intelligence Denlinger (Cary Elwes). This scene marks the return of Henry Czerny as Eugene Kittridge, the director of the IMF and the CIA, who hasn't been seen since the original Mission: Impossible film in 1996.

There was a point in time when Tom Cruise seemed ready to retire from this franchise following 2011's Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol, but now it seems that he is willing to keep making these films until the now 61-year-old actor physically can't make them anymore. Indeed, as has been the case with the other entries in the franchise, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One has been built around the insane stunts that Tom Cruise performs him. In this case, he does a base jump off of a mountain before the film's climatic set piece on board (and on top of) a runaway train.

While the action set pieces of the film remain quite spectacular and entertaining to watch, I also have to contend that Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One has me feeling franchise fatigue. Following a very solid run of films beginning with the soft reboot that was 2006's Mission: Impossible III, both the films and their stars are starting to show their age. All three of the longest recurring actors of the franchise, Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, and Simon Pegg, are now past 50, with Cruise and Rhames being in their 60s. While it can still be argued that Tom Cruise has visibly aged very little, it is getting harder to believe that Ethan Hunt will still be doing these dangerous missions.

Without revealing too many plot details, I have to note that Rebecca Ferguson got the short end of the stick for her third film as disavowed MI6 agent Ilsa Faust. The character's debut in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation was a breakthrough role for Ferguson and Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One was an opportunity for the character to become a full member of Ethan Hunt's IMF team. However, after briefly appearing in the cold open, the character ends up being MIA for much of the film and ends up essentially being replaced by Hayley Atwell (Captain America: The First Avenger) as the new character of Grace.

It can also be argued that Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is a victim of bad timing. If production wasn't delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the film didn't miss its originally planned summer 2021 release date, chances are that most wouldn't have batted an eye that an evil sentient A.I. is the main threat to the film. However, it turned out that the film was released the same week SAG-AFTRA went on strike with the prospect of being replaced by A.I. technologies being one of the major issues. While I am sure this probably won't hurt the film too much, it does make Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One closer to science fact than you would have previously expected.

One major positive about Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is that despite being the first chapter of a two-part story, it doesn't end up feeling like half a film. While the closing narration emphasizes that this mission was only the beginning, there is still a level of resolution to the plot. As such, viewers of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One won't be left hanging until Part Two comes out in a year's time.

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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