The latest addition to the Mission: Impossible movie series, Dead Reckoning Part One, features the Impossible Mission Force team battling against two of their most formidable foes. Despite the franchise’s highs and lows, this latest film shows a lot of potential thanks to the skilled direction of Christopher McQuarrie, who has been at the helm since Rogue Nation, and the outstanding performance of Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt. With its captivating plot, Dead Reckoning Part One sets the stage for a thrilling conclusion to the series I have been a massive fan of since my childhood in the ’90s. Additionally, it provides a glimpse into what is sure to be a bittersweet but satisfying conclusion to Ethan’s story.
In Dead Reckoning Part One, the Impossible Mission Force team is on a dangerous mission to find a new weapon that could threaten humans if it falls into the wrong hands. The stakes are high, with the world’s fate hanging in the balance. As dark forces from Ethan’s past emerge, a deadly race across the globe begins. Ethan faces a powerful adversary, causing him to question whether anything is more important than his mission, even the lives of those closest to him.
I appreciate it when a franchise concludes by going back to its roots, causing the main character to confront events they believed were ancient history. This is precisely what Dead Reckoning – Part One accomplishes by giving us a glimpse into Ethan’s life before becoming an IMF agent and pitting him against the individual responsible for altering his trajectory. To save the world this time, Ethan must overcome his past to progress while trying to protect those he holds dear.
The Good Guys
In Dead Reckoning Part One, we see the beloved Impossible Mission Force members, Benji and Luther, returning to help Ethan in his mission to defeat Gabriel and The Entity. Benji was first introduced in Mission: Impossible 3, while Luther is the only character besides Ethan to appear in every film. Their comeback in the final movies is a treat, as their interactions with Ethan offer some humorous moments, and their devotion to him is unmatched. Additionally, Ilsa, a former MI6 agent, will return as Ethan’s love interest and a favorite important role during the events of the final two movies.
Although most of the actors in Dead Reckoning Part One deliver impressive performances, two characters fall short. Hayley Atwell’s character, Grace, is portrayed as a repetitive pickpocket, which becomes tiresome. Furthermore, Grace’s constant need to escape from Ethan feels like a forced way to progress the plot and unnecessarily put characters in dire situations. Similarly, Pom Klementieff’s character, Paris, is not a solid addition to the film. Paris’s portrayal as an overly enthusiastic henchman comes across as cheesy and does not add much value to the movie’s overall quality. Both characters are the weakest links in the film and could have been written differently or eliminated to enhance the film’s quality.
The Bad Guys
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One explores current anxieties by introducing a fresh antagonist called The Entity, an unknown and unconnected foe who is a sophisticated, sentient AI capable of disrupting nearly every digital system, resulting in widespread chaos. As someone concerned about the rapid development of AI and the possibility of it replacing jobs, The Entity felt particularly close to home for me. Still, I enjoyed seeing AI as the antagonist because of its ability to pull strings in the background virtually undetected. How do you kill something that is nowhere and everywhere at once without triggering Skynet-level destruction?
In addition to The Entity, the human antagonist is Gabriel, portrayed by Esai Morales. The Entity selected Gabriel to counter Ethan’s capability of thwarting its plans as it considers him the most suitable candidate to halt Ethan owing to their history dating back to before Ethan joined the IMF. Gabriel is a ghost that symbolizes a bleak prediction for the future of humanity, and if Ethan fails to intervene, Gabriel will inflict pain on people worldwide. However, if he does intervene, The Entity wins and will take over the world. This damned if you, damned if you don’t situation Ethan finds himself in is very fitting and raises the stakes for the IMF.
Cruise and McQuarrie have noted that Gabriel, the antagonist in the series, is a captivating and intricate character who takes pleasure in causing pain. I concur with their assessment and find Gabriel particularly compelling in Dead Reckoning Part One. His genuine believability sets him apart from his henchman Parisbecause his sole motivation for wanting to stop Ethan is his sadistic pleasure in causing pain, making him a truly terrifying villain. His connection to The Entity merely justifies his evil acts, which is far more unsettling than any complex ideological motivation.
The Mission: Impossible movies are known for their incredible stunts, and Dead Reckoning Part One is no exception. One stunt, in particular, stands out as Cruise jumps off a cliff on a motorcycle and then parachutes to safety. This stunt is so impressive because Cruise underwent an astounding 500 hours of skydiving training to execute it flawlessly, which reportedly took only seven takes to shoot. While promoting the film, Cruise declared it the most dangerous stunt they’ve ever attempted, but director McQuarrie argued that a fight scene on top of a moving train with actor Morales was even more challenging.
Regardless, Dead Reckoning Part One offers a plethora of incredible stunts for viewers to enjoy throughout its immense runtime. However, one stunt featuring Ethan and Grace driving a Fiat caused motion sickness among many viewers in my theater, including myself, and was the only scene that felt drawn out. On the other hand, the franchise’s fight scenes are superbly choreographed, particularly one fight between Ilsa and Gabriel, being my favorite and the best of the series. Stunts and fight scenes like those in this film are why the price of admission to a theater is worth it.
The movie’s long runtime goes by seamlessly thanks to its engaging plot and captivating flow that will keep you hooked. However, the impact of the well-written story, amazing stunts, and superbly choreographed fights showcasing Cruise’s expertise is slightly diminished by one nauseating stunt and two irrelevant characters. Still, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One sets the stage for the franchise’s conclusion, which has thrilled fans for nearly three decades. Though bidding farewell to Ethan is difficult, his path seems to lead him toward the exciting and gratifying conclusion our beloved spy truly deserves.
- This article was updated on September 7th, 2023