Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Movie Review: Great action, decent drama and a top-notch Tom Cruise 

Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Movie Review: Great action, decent drama and a top-notch Tom Cruise 

Rating:(3 / 5)

When Tom Cruise brought Ethan Hunt alive on the big screen for the first time, it was a purely personal case. He was framed as a killer, and he was running against time to clear his name. Since then, it has always been about thwarting a megalomaniac with global domination ambitions. It is no different in the seventh installment of the blockbuster spy franchise. However, this time around, it is not just a syndicate or rogue network or any other organisation fronted by people with nefarious plans. This time Ethan Hunt and Co are against a sentient AI, and things are more bombastic than before. 

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Cast: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Hayley Atwell, Esai Morales

Dead Reckoning has one of the best cold opens in the Mission Impossible franchise. There's a Russian submarine housing a weaponised artificial intelligence. There is a manipulation involving electronic devices, and I was sure it was the introduction scene of Hunt. However, director Christopher McQuarrie and his writing team clearly had other plans, and it sets up the intensity of the antagonist to a chilling effect. In contrast, Hunt just steps out of the shadows to receive the package that gives him THE 'choice.' He is now a veteran of the IMF, and it is interesting to see the film set the tone about him becoming a mentor of sorts. This is seen once again in his equation with an enterprising thief Grace (Hayley Atwell), who is Hunt's new ally in his never-ending saga of saving the world, one mission at a time. Of course, the usual suspects like Benji (Simon Pegg), Luther (Ving Rhames), Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) are back too, and have at least one solid stretch to establish their importance in the franchise. The usual banter between Benji and Luther continues to be funny, and this time around, it is poignant too. Even with Ilsa and her equation with the IMF trio is beautifully showcased in this instalment. In fact, seeing old faces return, and newer faces making such a strong presence, there is a sense of ominousness pervading through the entire film.

This pall of gloom is spread throughout the narrative, and in fact, the action sequences are a welcome detour from the sense of dread that can otherwise be felt in the film. Is it because the antagonist is all-powerful? Is it because of the rumours that Dead Reckoning might be the last time we see Tom Cruise as Hunt (Yes, they denied it... but....)? But this narrative structure helps in grounding the franchise and giving it an overwhelming sense of vulnerability. Of course, we know that Hunt would swoop in to save the day even if he is jumping off a cliff to reach a train travelling at full speed. We do know that he would zoom past the villains driving in military grade bulletproof SUVs even if he is just in a Fiat 500, and is handcuffed to the steering wheel. But after a point, in Dead Reckoning, the stunt sequences feel like fillers in a drama about an ageing spy, who can still run like the wind.

Considering the film is a two-parter, the first film is essentially a build up for the showdown between Hunt and the sentient force. This also results in some stretches not really pumping in the adrenaline that we have begun to expect from this franchise. While the portentous narrative does work in building the mood of the film, the payoffs aren't always rewarding. The buildups and elevation too are a bit too much on the nose even for someone like Hunt. Make no mistake, the action set pieces are gorgeously orchestrated, and makes you wonder how Cruise and Co continue to pull this off with so much efficiency and consistency. However, there is a lot of tell, and less of show when it comes to the narrative that acts as a placeholder (probably) for all hell to break loose in the second part.  

Incidentally, the person sitting next to yours truly in the screening was a precocious young kid, who was probably seeing his first Mission Impossible film. As Tom Cruise's Hunt made his way around the world in bikes, cars, trains, and narrowly missed certain death in every single occasion, the kid was audibly gasping, and was awestruck by the sheer incredulity of it all. Well, it is clear... Tom Cruise is our Last Action Hero, and every moment that he tries to walk, run, jump, dive, fall, and fly is a moment to cherish. In Dead Reckoning: Part One, Cruise gives it his all as Ethan Hunt, just like he always does. I repeat... Tom Cruise is our Last Action Hero, and we are not sure how many more such films can the man wring out of his broken bones, and tired muscles. He is all heart, and as he has often shown through his films, including Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning, that is more than enough.  

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