Tom Cruise is back on screen seeking the improbable – convincing an audience that he’s still top of his game at an over ripe sixty-one years old. In cinemas from today, Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One (sheesh what a handful) proves just that, putting other action hero franchise films from this year in the corner. Mi7.1 has thrilling action sequences, but is bogged down by long-winded plot explanations.
Mild spoilers ahead.
Agent Ethan Hunt, IMF’s least favourite old boy on roster, finds himself in competition with multiple factions who’re tasked with tracking two parts of a shiny mcguffin. All the while reminding everyone about choices and earlier days.
Teamed with the usual lads, Benji (Simon Pegg – Hot Fuzz), Luther (Ving Rhames – Pulp Fiction) and crossing paths again with Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson – Dune); Hunt finds himself up against a rogue AI program that has permeated every corner of the digitally connected world. The AI clandestine, playing puppet master with each opposing faction in play. More on this shortly.
Further complicating endeavours to figure out exactly what is at threat, Hunt’s team is also up against a group employed by the AI to protect the mcguffin from everyone else. Led by Gabrielle (Esai Morales – Master Gardener), this group of zealots worship the AI program, referred to as The Entity, for its ability to calculate, prioritise and predict probable outcomes. The group’s steely assassin Paris (Pom Klementieff – Guardians of the Galaxy) gleefully chews through each scene with grace and malice.
Ethan’s team also comes up against Grace (Hayley Atwell – Agent Carter), a slick professional thief who finds herself at odds with while also relying on the IMF team.
Then there’s The Entity itself, leering over events as they unfold like a god studying rats in its maze. The naming of this sentient cyber weapon in the plot is to be blunt, god awful and evokes a minor twitch each time a character on screen discusses it. Despite the polish and thrilling stunts offered by this film, it’s difficult to swallow the connective tissue and not be left wondering, why? There’s zero logical sense or motivation for the program to be doing what its doing and equally for the good guys to be responding the way they’re responding. It is two hours and forty five minutes of circular plot, so full of holes that it may as well be a crab net. Still, the plot isn’t as bad as Mi2, although not far off.
Speaking of problems, the spectacular action sequences have an issue. A ‘we’ve seen it before’ issue. Mi7.1 shares a car chase with Fast X and Spectre, barrelling down the iconic Spanish steps of Rome. Mi7.1 also shares a pulse pounding cabin over a cliff action sequence with The Lost World, inserted special for those afraid of heights. It has a misdirection and espionage sequence on a passenger train, like the original Mission Impossible.
While those points are throbbing sore thumbs, Mi7.1 is still an excellent flick with amazing cinematography and not seeing this on the largest screen in the loudest cinema would be remiss. Tom Cruise hasn’t anything left to prove in his career, yet here he is pulling off extreme stunts not once, not twice, but seven times over chasing the perfect take. Suit up, strap in and catch this 7/10 before it self destructs into another sequel. Dead Reckoning Part Two is coming, rumoured to be the finale in the current iteration of this franchise.