Latest Mission: Impossible film is a hell of a time at the movies

Mission: Impossible–Dead Reckoning Part One

  • Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
  • Starring: Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg
  • Action/Adventure | PG-13 | 2 hr 43 min

By Reed Ripley

The film industry’s gone through a lot since 2018’s Mission: Impossible–Fallout. Sure, there was a pandemic, but that only exacerbated an existing existential crisis about the theatergoing experience. People just stopped going to movies, and there was (and remains) an open question about the theater’s future. 

Enter Tom Cruise, who after reinstating himself as the king of the theater experience with 2022’s Top Gun: Maverick, again delivers an absolute banger this summer with Mission: Impossible–Dead Reckoning Part One. There’s simply no action franchise doing it better out there right now than Mission: Impossible, and expectedly, the set pieces in Dead Reckoning are stunning pieces of filmmaking, thanks largely to Cruise’s sheer commitment to authenticity. 

Everybody talks about Cruise doing his own stunts, but that’s merely a marketing gimmick if that effort doesn’t come across on screen. It does in spades, and it clearly trickles down to the rest of the cast and crew. The set pieces start immediately, too, and they don’t stop coming until the film’s cliffhanger conclusion. A motorcycle base jump onto a moving train is the standout, but that entire finishing stretch is outstanding, including a hanging monkeys, falling train car sequence featuring Cruise and Hayley Atwell’s Grace.

The only thing keeping Dead Reckoning from making its own leap off the cliff and into a rarified air of all-time action films is its length. The Mission: Impossible films are inherently ridiculous, and Cruise and Co. lean into that to deliver those incredible action sequences. However, that can also lead to confusing and questionable story choices which reveal themselves more fully as the film chugs along into its third hour. 


Paramount Pictures

For example, the main villain of Dead Reckoning is a faceless, nationless artificial intelligence entity called, you guessed it, “The Entity.” While that’s fine, bringing in an A.I., especially as it’s depicted here, creates all sorts of questions about the limits of its power, and it also creates a sort of distance between the audience and the big bad. The set pieces justify plenty of yada-yadaing, but only for so long, and the story really starts showing its seams toward the end. 

Will Cruise’s remarkable late-career success single-handedly revive the theater industry? Of course not, but coming off the heels of Maverick, and looking forward to Dead Reckoning – Part 2’s release next summer, we’re likely in the midst of one of the most successful three-year summer blockbuster runs in film history. That’s unfair to Dead Reckoning–Part One though—attaching some sort of puffed-up importance to it defeats the point. It’s a hell of a time at the movies, and that’s all it needs to be. 

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