Cruise returns in latest “Mission Impossible” film

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, August 15, 2023

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Perilously skydiving into our theatre this week is “Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning: Part One,” the newest and seventh installment in the series. At the center of all this film’s action is the always compelling Tom Cruise as his most prolific character, the brilliantly clever, doggedly tough and truly fearless Ethan Hunt. 

This film is directed by Christopher McQuarrie, the director of the last two MI films, whose eye for clearly shooting action is almost unrivaled in the industry. McQuarrie can combine both freneticism and clarity in a rare pairing that provides for enthralling, but intelligible action sequences, the bread and butter of the franchise. However, in a laudable thematic nod, this seventh film does tie in and reference back to the original “Mission Impossible” (Brian de Palma 1996), as current Ethan finds himself questioning his occupation and exploring his early motivations to pursue his punishing line of work.

The narrative spark for this film’s plot is the looming threat of a powerful AI, one with malevolent intent, that would pose a threat to global stability and countless human lives. The AI is poised to be activated if two halves of a security key are brought together in a devastating junction. Ethan and his crack team have been assigned to find the keys, and once again prevent disaster. 

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Ethan’s team, with many returning faces from prior missions, provides the emotional backbone of the film, with the experienced partnerships of the characters providing depth and humanity to a field of work so often portrayed as cold and emotionless. The MI films make a compelling counterargument to the dominant philosophy espoused in spy media: that a singular agent, through force and sheer will, can overcome any odds. While Ethan Hunt still performs more than his fair share of superhuman stunts, his character would be nothing without his team. This emphasis on collaboration and support is a beautiful emotional quality of the MI films. 

McQuarrie has made a praiseworthy choice to opt for as many opportunities for practical effects as the scenes would allow. When working with practical effects, the weight and solidity of action scenes are felt in the viewers’ bodies. Too often CGI provides a smooth airiness to scenes that robs an action scene of its impact. We want to hear the crunch of punches, the smash of cars and the pop of gunfire. 

This film, with its solid action, and compelling performances is a truly well-made film, but it is above all else, a lot of fun!

With last year’s “Top Gun: Maverick” (Kosinski 2022), Cruise was duly credited with “saving” the theatre experience. With “Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning: Part One” Cruise has once again made the quintessential blockbuster: a fun, thrilling, and broadly appealing film, equally pleasing to viewers of all demographics and most all ages. We hope to share this film with you soon!