Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1 (Rated PG-13)
By: Adam Freed
What more does Tom Cruise possibly have to give? What more needs to be achieved before he can unequivocally sit atop the throne as the biggest movie star in the history of film? The term “star” feels embarrassingly inadequate to fit someone of his accomplishment. As stars hang in distant contrast to the midnight sky, Cruise seems the blindingly omnipresent gravitational center of the Hollywood Universe. One of the most cumbersome tropes assigned by his critics is that Cruise clings to the action genre because he lacks the requisite “acting chops” to shoulder the dramatic weight of a film not buoyed by pyrotechnics. Bring forward another actor who has been hired by names like Kubrick, Scorsese, Spielberg, Michael Mann, Paul Thomas Anderson, Cameron Crowe, Oliver Stone and Brian De Palma. If the greatest directors of the past half century are confident in Cruise’s dramatic prowess, then it may be time to stick the proverbial fork into the asinine nature of the faux critique. All hyperbole aside, the man who saved the film industry with his steadfast belief in Top Gun: Maverick (2022), is back to make sure its safety is no longer in question with Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1, the franchise’s seventh installment, which provides no evidence of losing pace with its predecessors.
The penultimate iteration of Cruise’s Ethan Hunt saga pits the Impossible Mission Force, both old and new, against the soulless fruit of mankind’s self destructive desire to play god in the form of an advanced artificial intelligence known only as The Entity. Initially the creation of a rogue nation’s attempt at world domination, The Entity evolves far beyond the capability of its creator, setting it on a binary path that can only result in one of two inevitable outcomes. Dead Reckoning Part 1 boasts numerous gravitational performances beyond that of its leading man. Esai Morales’ Gabriel is a delightfully cold enigma of a supporting villain, whose true motivations lurk in shadow. Returning to the cast is the stunning Rebecca Ferguson as MI:6 rogue agent Ilsa Foust, who once again proves Cruise’s worthy combat counterpart. Vanessa Kirby provides deadly intrigue as The White Widow, a sleek “broker” of nefarious international transactions. Without question though, the film’s most apt addition is that of Hayley Atwell, whom audiences must question how six prior Mission Impossible films existed in her absence.
Much will be made of the marathon action sequences in Dead Reckoning Part 1, some of which amount to half hour refusals to loosen the chokehold placed upon exasperated audiences. Praise should land in heaps upon the ornate and elaborate set pieces which present no less than four moments of which even the most ardent patrons of action films will find themselves in disbelief. The compounding build of the film’s propulsion is masterfully partnered with a score that captures the soul of the film’s visual intensity in aural form. The progressive barrage of instrumentals pay homage to European orchestral history, while simultaneously feeling marred by the far more contemporary thunder of a synthesizer beat. The result is a triumphant score that is both antique and progressive, surely a sonic echo of the film's central conflict as humanity fights to preserve its future against the amorality of The Entity.
With this one final Mission yet to complete, Cruise’s future is slightly blurred for the first time in decades. One assurance in which his fans can find solace is that Tom Cruise is an entertainment permanence. As the death rattle of what was once the Marvel Universe still smolders, beyond the Hobbit wave from Middle Earth, long after the Wizards of Hogwarts, the Fast Saga, The Matrix, before and after Will Smith’s box office coronation, through every undeniable silver screen supernova spanning the past forty years, Tom Cruise has outlasted them all. He is the living embodiment of the industry’s past, present and future. Death may one day meet the 61 year old phenomenon, but he has already cemented his legacy as the brightest sun in Hollywood history and in so doing, has grasped a special form of immortality. What will Tom Cruise do next? One thing is certain, on the seventh day he will rest.