Ben Oliver

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Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

Your life will always matter more to me than my own.
15 July 2023

Tom Cruise is back again as Ethan Hunt, and not once does he suggest he’s getting too old for this shit, even though he’s been doing this since 1996.

He’s become synonymous with live-action stunts done in-camera, dedicated to the cause of giving the audience their money’s worth instead of just rendering scenes in a data-centre. With the last Mission: Impossible film and then Top Gun: Maverick he proved that it was a worthy cause, makes for very good films, and it brings people back into the cinema. He showed the world that there is still an appetite for daring and exciting action films made with a sense of care and craftsmanship.

So this seventh (!) Mission: Impossible film has a lot to live up to. Can he pull it off again? Well, mostly yes.

It delivers what you are hoping for, and what’s been marketed to you. A crazy bastard doing crazy stuff in spite of it all, putting his life on the line almost in the tradition of Buster Keaton or Harold Lloyd. An old-school spy film full of swagger, gadgets and hi-jinks. Some novel and well executed ideas for action set-pieces.

But unlike the wonderful Fallout, it stumbles in places. Perhaps it’s because it’s a two-parter, or perhaps it’s because they are trying raise the emotional stakes and give Hunt a big send-off, but it gets bogged down in its plot and with exposition. McQuarrie tries to keep it alive with some close-ups and Dutch angles but it quickly feels used and abused, becoming quite distracting.

It stops to take a breath for too long and too often and wrongly assumes you care about the technical details of whatever MacGuffin they are chasing.

Overall the plot has some poetic value though, with a story about AI that feels very well timed given all recent developments in the past 6 months. It’s a fight of digital vs analogue, and chimes with Cruise’s own personal values in film-making.

Allow me to revert to my teenage self for a moment, but good God there are some good looking, charismatic ladies in this film. Is it possible to have a crush on three women at once, as a grown man? Hayley Atwell, Rebecca Ferguson and Vanessa Kirby are all so fucking cool in this. Erm… if any of you see this my email is on the ‘about’ page. I am married though. But I think my wife would also be interested. I’ll stop talking now.

Also as a car bore there’s a wonderful scene in an old Fiat 500 that’s been so overly electrified it basically drives like a dodgem, sliding around uncontrollably all over the place. Hayley Atwell gets stuck in the cabin with Tom Cruise and completely nails the scene to make it a real stand-out moment.

Great stuff again, even though it drags its feet in places trying to set the scene. All can be forgiven if it pays off in Part Two.