by Victoria Alexander
The most emotional of the franchise and tops itself while routed in reality. How are superheroes going to transcend this?
Director Christopher McQuarrie, who co-wrote the screenplay with Erik Jendresen, acknowledges that Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) years of covert missions have given him a grave sense of fatalistic determinism. In PART ONE the villain is invisible with a purpose that cannot be reasoned with. The threat is “Entity” an Artificial Intelligence with a “winner takes all” agenda. It has no ideology, no patriotism, and only wants complete domination. But there is a key that can dismantle Entity.
The fear of the power of A.I. is worrying scientists who do not own companies working on its power to think for us.
DEAD RECKONING brings this truly impossible villain to Hunt’s Mission Impossible Force team sidekicks, Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg). Though only HUNT is the one to have to accept the mission. The MIF have worked so long together that their conversation is now almost psychic nods. Dunn’s MIF position is to use headsets to direct Hunt while he has “boots on the ground.” But Dunn’s verbal impatience with Hunt has become his trademark. He never worries when he puts Hunt in extreme immediate danger. Hell, let Hunt do the dangerous work, Stickell and Dunn have been at home since the “pandemic” and rather not go back into the field. Well, Dunn is tasked with defusing a suitcase bomb, but the Entity has a series of modern riddles he must solve first. They are less imaginative than the one famously posed by the Sphinx: “What goes on four feet in the morning, two feet in midday, and three feet in the evening?”
Dunn does earn his Christmas bonus but then it is he who casually guides a motorcycling driving Hunt to a mountain top that presents him with only one way down.
We know that Hunt doesn’t consider the odds of any risk. He goes for it. And PART ONE delivers. It’s non-stop action with one thrilling chase after another. My favorite is the scene on the train. I do not know how much of the production is technological wizardry and the work of stunt doubles, but unlike our superheroes, Hunt’s action pieces are presented in a realistic – it might happen - manner.
The reported budget of $290 million budget (this does not account for publicity and promotion) is up on the screen.
Cruise knows what his audience expects, and he gives his performance a doomed sense that clearly signals his character’s maturity. Surprisingly, PART ONE has an emotional core. It is the most direct of the franchise and gives Cruise the ability to dig deeper into his character.
PART ONE brings back Hunt’s love interest/sharpshooter Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) now holed up in an extraordinary dust-filled Namib desert hideout. This is an amazing production marvel.
What is at stake is the missing part of a key that will neutralize Entity. In a casual exchange, Grace (Hayley Atwell), a “who cares thief” pickpockets the wrong passenger on a train and comes into possession of the half-key. She gets tangled up with Hunt, who handcuffs her to him. Alanna Mitsopolis, the White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), is also interested in Entity. The Entity has one operative, Gabriel (Esai Morales), who magically appears everywhere. Hunt may have those face masks, but Entity has its own stagecraft. There is also a strange, armor-van driving maniac, Paris (Pom Klementieff), who does not need to say much but is relentless in chasing Hunt in a fantastic car chase that destroys a large tourist area of Italy.
Without revealing who turns up and the twists, DEAD RECKONING’s stunts are really state-of-the-art and frankly, what will happen in PART TWO to out-perform PART ONE?
The ALL is Mind; The Universe is Mental.”
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