I’m not saying the Mission: Impossible franchise is losing steam, but maybe this one shouldn’t have split into two parts or, I don’t know, have its most impressive stunt be the focus of its entire marketing campaign.
Once again following the international exploits of IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his usual team of hackers, spies, and technicians, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One sees the rise of a dangerous rogue AI called “the Entity,” a brand new kind of technological and existential threat that Ethan and crew aren’t exactly prepared to deal with. Joined by newcomer Grace (Hayley Atwell), a thief who Ethan can’t make heads or tails of, as well as the return of franchise alum, disavowed MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), Ethan must find the literal key needed to control this new weapon, something that becomes far easier said than done. Crossing paths with the global terrorist and Entity liaison named Gabriel (Esai Morales), a man who shares a dark history with our main protagonist, Ethan has his work cut out for him as not only does he need to keep the Entity out of the wrong hands, but with more than a few just as dangerous parties also interested in hunting down the AI’s key, avoid being wiped off the face of the planet in the process.
As with almost every other Mission: Impossible movie, the main draw of this film is the high-octane action and obligatory impossible mission somehow turned possible, with Dead Reckoning Part One checking all those boxes as expected. Impressing with some stellar acting (Hayley Atwell is a lot of fun in this one), great cinematography, a few exciting action sequences, and an endgame that should be fun to see play out in the sequel, this movie unfortunately stumbles in a few other areas that its previous sequels nailed, turning Dead Reckoning Part One into something lesser than what it’s billed as, a problem that had me less than happy with how it turned out.
Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely think the Mission: Impossible franchise is one of the most consistent and entertaining series in all of Hollywood — especially with their unwavering commitment to doing (mostly) real stunt work and making Tom Cruise run around like a maniac for two hours straight — but the general concept of this film from the been-there-done-that AI plot to the somewhat boring overarching story otherwise (one that I assume will be kicked up a notch in the sequel) to some scripting choices that just didn’t sit right with me on a character or narrative level as they felt forced and filler-y, this one had the right ingredients, but never found a way to mix them in a way that I can say was successful. And while the Entity plot is technically a topical tale considering the rise of AI concerns in the real world, the story of this film never felt clever enough nor entirely in Mission: Impossible’s lane to be as effective as it wanted to be, with the script taking a very exposition-heavy route to explain the convoluted story, something that bothered and even annoyed me the more things went on.
It’s honestly hard to get the full picture of something that deliberately breaks a larger story into two parts without any real reason for it, so as this one stands, I was more underwhelmed and indifferent to the whole thing rather than on the edge of my seat and heavily invested in what was going on. Sure, there are more than a few impressive sequences and characters to like in Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One since that’s basically a given for this franchise at this point, but on the whole, I think the second half of this adventure will be a much better affair, just at the expense of this film.