There is little doubt that the team behind Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part 1 went all out to promote the movie to anyone who would listen. In the post-COVID world where a lot of films sneak into cinemas with little fanfare it was pretty refreshing to see a team go all out – the cast were doing breakfast TV appearances; billboards were everywhere and Tom Cruise was doing guest appearances in front of landmarks right around the world.
There was little wonder that people have been so excited by the fanfare but what about the film itself? Does it hold up to all the excitement? Well, the answer is simple – yes, yes it does. But be warned this is not just a film about crash and bash – this is an action film with a serious side. Think about films like Hunt For Red October and The Firm and you will be starting to feel the vibe this movie puts out.
The film’s opening sequence is a real surprise. The Russians have developed a new top-secret sub that nobody knows about. Therefore, the crew are surprised when suddenly they find themselves under attack – they fight back with catastrophic results. Even worse the attack leaves a key to a device that the whole world wants out in the open for the taking.
Without going into spoiler territory that leaves the United States terrified as the keys are the only things that can control a rogue AI that threatens world domination. The IMF – Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise – Rain Man), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg – Shaun Of The Dead) and Luther Stickewell (Ving Rhames – Pulp Fiction) are soon scrambled and placed on the case to get the keys and bring them to the US.
However of course things don’t go to plan and soon Ethan and his team find themselves once again teaming up with Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson – The Greatest Showman) and a gifted young cat burglar named Grace (Hayley Atwell – Captain America: The First Avenger) in a bid to stop the keys falling into the hands of the opportunistic White Widow (Vanessa Kirby – The Crown) who plans on selling it to the highest bidder.
To make the task even harder an old foe returns and hires a hitwoman, Paris (Pom Klementieff – Avengers: Infinity War), to kill Ethan and his crew. And those in the US Government who don’t trust the IMF have sent Jasper Briggs (Shea Whigham – Non-Stop) to arrest Ethan and bring him in.
Directed by long-time Tom Cruise collaborator Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher) Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part 1 is not the movie that a lot of people are going to expect it to be. If they are wanting a Fast & Furious style film with a lot of action and very little story, then this is not the film for them. Instead, this film should be considered a thinking person’s action film.
Yes, there are some impressive stunts, Tom Cruise certainly makes sure of that, but there is also a spy/thriller/espionage story here that any James Bond film would be envious off. From emergencies on Russian subs through to foot chases on cobblestone Venice streets and a huge finale involving the Orient Express everything is all brought together with an amazing unique screenplay that explores a crime that maybe closer to what our world will face one day then many will care to believe. Even the stunts themselves are creative – this isn’t just simply car chases and the norm – no these stunt sequences are something very new and if the sequence on the Orient Express involving Tom Cruse and Hayley Atwell isn’t enough to convince the Academy to introduce an Oscar for Stunt Work then nothing ever will.
As just mentioned, while the stunts in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part 1 are impressive it is screenplay, written by McQuarrie and his team, that make the film so memorable. Not only is the plot about a rogue AI well thought out without delving into the territory already explored in films like The Terminator but they fact that they manage to bring characterisation to characters like Paris and White Widow certainly moves this film into a realm that very few action films belong in.
Perhaps the best creation by that screenwriting team though is the character of Grace. They really give Hayley Atwell something to work with and make Grace the character that the audience never really know if they can trust or not. In mere presence in this film provides just as much suspense as some of the stunts and thankfully the writers didn’t decide to go down the cliched path of making her a love interest for Ethan.
There is very little doubt that Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part 1 is a very impressive film, but the good news is it a combination of some smart script writing, impressive stunts and great acting that makes it that way. This well-rounded film is a call back to a time when there was as much work and creativity in a script for a spy film as there was in an Oscar winning drama. Let’s hope that other action franchises take a leaf out of the Mission: Impossible book because this is a real stunner.