by Rob DiCristino
You know, you really have to feel for Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), the IMF stalwart who routinely risks life and limb to topple rogue dictators, smash unruly computer systems, and generally act as an all-purpose tonic for a never-ending cavalcade of catastrophic apocalypses. Secret agent or not, a person can only scale so many skyscrapers and dangle precariously from so many airliners before they start to wonder if the juice is worth the squeeze. Hunt’s relentless pursuit of justice has already cost him a marriage, after all, as well as handful of teammates and any semblance of personal identity he might have scraped together over his thirty-plus years in the Impossible Mission Force. A life spent in service of this ludicrously-named clandestine agency requires a total commitment to an objective, a series of cold and logical calculations that rate the collective fate of nations far higher than any individual’s prosperity. Hunt has always been willing — eager — to roll those dice, but we all reach a breaking point eventually.
The dizzying Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One certainly offers ample motivation for a career change. Ethan and his team — computer experts Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg), as well as disgraced MI6 agent Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) — are in pursuit of an artificially-intelligent superweapon known as The Entity, the keys to which have become hot commodities for international weapons brokers like the White Widow (Vanessa Kirby, returning from 2018’s Fallout) and enigmatic terrorists like Gabriel (Esai Morales), a ghost from Hunt’s tragic past. Also on the trail are American intelligence boss Kittridge (Henry Czerny, reprising his role from 1996’s original film), Gabriel’s silent enforcer Paris (Pom Klementieff), and Grace (Hayley Atwell), a hardscrabble pickpocket looking for the ultimate payday. Global espionage ensues as the various parties cross and double-cross each other with reckless abandon, each hoping to gain control over The Entity’s game-changing capabilities.
That isn’t to say that Dead Reckoning skimps on the pageantry. Running a towering 163 minutes in length, the film indulges audiences with all the in-camera, done-for-real theatrics we’ve come to expect from Mission: Impossible, including moonlit sword fights, horseback sniper attacks, and a thoroughly irresponsible motorcycle stunt that culminates in the most effective and unexpected beat of comedy you’ll see in an action movie this year. Riveting, too, is a midway car chase that finds Grace and Ethan struggling to navigate the narrow alleys of Rome while handcuffed together in a tiny Fiat (with a maniacally joyous Paris close behind in a military-grade Humvee, no less). While the ins and outs of Dead Reckoning Part One’s storytelling are more convoluted than ever — don’t even bother trying to remember where each half of The Entity’s keys are at any given moment; that would just spoil the fun — we trust Ethan and the IMF to be one step ahead of the bad guys, even as the clock ticks close and closer to certain disaster.
Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One hits theaters on Wednesday, July 12th.