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Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Part 1 Review: Comfort Zone

The Pitch: Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is back for another impossible mission, and this time his enemy is… artificial intelligence. Specifically, the world’s foremost expert in jumping from great heights to keep said world from exploding is trying to take down “the Entity”: That’s the name we get for this super-advanced A.I., one capable of predicting human decision-making on top of manipulating systems and networks on a global level for its own purposes.

Thanks to the Entity, Ethan and his loyal companions Benji (Simon Pegg), Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson), and Luther (Ving Rhames) are all targets, along with newcomer Grace (Hayley Atwell), a high-level thief the Entity hopes to manipulate for its own ends. The target for everyone involved is the key to a nuclear submarine, but as always this mission boils down to Ethan being pushed to his limits, knowing that not everyone will survive.

Run Tom Run: Tom Cruise’s third Mission: Impossible movie with director Christopher McQuarrie (and fourth collaboration in total, following 2012’s Jack Reacher) doesn’t reinvent much of what’s now become the franchise’s house style. That house style is a relatively recent innovation, of course, following the first four films in the series, led by Brian de Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams, and Brad Bird all delivering their own idiosyncratic takes on the spy-verse. But as producer, Cruise seems to have decided that McQuarrie’s approach is the one that works for him, and so that’s the approach we now get.

McQuarrie has proven to be a pretty effective director of these films, though, if only because of his deep appreciation for the aesthetic pleasures of Tom Cruise running. And oh, does Cruise get in his steps over the course of this film, finding new and exciting locations through which to run, which McQuarrie’s cameras capture with just enough of a wink to let the audience know that he gets it.

Beyond that, McQuarrie’s basic stamp on the M:I franchise has been that of narrative safety, with each film avoiding any of the riskier choices that defined Cruise’s early decades of work, even as Cruise takes bigger and bigger risks physically. At this point, the man’s body is this franchise’s equivalent to the Millennium Falcon or Dom Toretto’s Dodge Charger — the primary vehicle for the action.

Any Member of Your IMF Team… But when Cruise isn’t jumping a motorcycle off a damn mountain, there are some refreshing twists on stunts you’ve seen before. As just one example, similarly to May’s Fast X, Dead Reckoning features a high-speed car chase through an Italian city that causes a lot of destruction. In this case, though, the destruction is largely the result of very poor driving (due to external complications), not to mention henchwoman Paris (Pom Klementieff) driving through any and all obstacles in her path with a manic grin on her face.

Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One (Paramount)

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