Tom Cruise is on a hot streak right now! After the success of Mission: Impossible Fallout and Top Gun: Maverick, he has another winner here! This mission may be the most dangerous yet, as Ethan Hunt and his team have a new threat in the form of artificial intelligence. This technology has the ability to alter information, warfare, and public opinion. As their time runs out and the walls cave in, they must evade a threat at every angle. Can the IMF team prevent this mysterious entity from falling into the wrong hands? Or will it run free and end the world as we know it?
Dead Reckoning Part One was my most anticipated film of 2023. I’m thrilled to say it more than lives up to the hype! This is exactly the kind of movie that audiences are looking for. It’s purely and completely an immersive theatrical experience. From beginning to end I was entertained, and that’s saying something considering the 2 hour and 43 minute runtime. The length of the film was inconsequential for me. It flew by! I can guarantee anyone who pays for a ticket will find that the experience was well worth it. The film begins with a chilling opening sequence on a submarine, setting up the high stakes for the rest of the film. I found the artificial intelligence antagonist to be quite compelling. Technology is a growing element of modern society, and Dead Reckoning Part One examines it with healthy skepticism. This comes at a time where cinema itself is having an identity crisis between “old school” and “new school”, “CGI” and “practical effects”. Cruise and McQuarrie seem intent on preserving the old school mechanisms that made film so immersive. What an interesting concept to mirror in the film, which will only build in Part Two. As expected, the stunts and action were top notch. I’d argue it’s some of the finest ever put on film. The story moves at a breakneck pace and manages to provide thrills galore. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, feeling sweat accumulating on my palms. The Rome car chase and third act train sequence are the highlights of the film. But we can’t forget Tom Cruise’s bonkers motorcycle jump off a cliff! The sound and editing during each sequence make the experience that much better. They are crafted with such precision and detail. I continue to be impressed at the development of Ethan’s team throughout these movies. They seem like real people who grow with each entry, feeling the pressure of the mission weighing on them. This mission especially seems more personal, forcing each member of the team to consider the gravity of the situation. Stakes are as high as they come with this one and I loved it. Performances across the board are phenomenal. Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, and Rebecca Ferguson all bring their A-game to their returning characters, while Esai Morales and Pom Klementieff bring a fresh energy to the villain roles. Even Henry Czerny and Vanessa Kirby bring a slick edge to the story. All others involved are impressive as well. The sound mixing, editing and cinematography are Oscar worthy here. Cruise’s desire to entertain the audiences with the most authentic, realistic techniques show. I appreciate this as someone who sees movies so often. Audience members who spend their hard-earned money on going to the theaters will not regret it.
Although Dead Reckoning Part One is a triumph, I don’t think it reaches the heights of Fallout. While Fallout is a complete story, this can’t help but feel like a Part One. I’ll say it’s probably one of the better Part Ones of a split film, which are notorious for being filler. But alas, this criticism is hard to avoid. Many of my mixed elements in the film largely stem from the unknowns coming in Part Two. There’s still a lot unanswered and up in the air, such as the villain’s relation to Ethan. I’d also like the next film to elaborate on Ethan’s backstory to strengthen the narrative of Part One. I have no doubt Part Two will address these lingering questions, but it still feels incomplete. However, I’d rather a story this dense take the time to explain the story rather than cram everything into one film. Dead Reckoning Part One presents some thought provoking ideas, so seeing the whole story come to fruition will be worth it. Lots could go up or down depending on how Part Two unfolds. Don’t let us down, Tom! Something I hope they adjust in the next film is line delivery. There were certain lines that were cornier than usual and tried to be overdramatic. Of course there will naturally be over the top aspects in a M:I film, but it stretched a bit too far this time. The runtime could be discouraging as this is the longest Mission: Impossible film. Plan your beverage consumption accordingly before the show (a mistake I learned during the movie).
In life, we can count on three things: death, taxes, and Tom Cruise performing crazy stunts to entertain us. I had an absolute blast with the latest Mission: Impossible film! If I can recommend a single movie to experience in the theaters this year, it’s this one. The storyline is endlessly entertaining and the action will have jaws on the floor. Commentary on artificial intelligence was also a strength. Dead Reckoning Part One is a thrilling and worthy entry that only makes this franchise better. Get out and see this on the biggest, loudest screen possible. Films like this give me hope for the future of cinema. Mission accomplished!