Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One, or, as I like to call it: Tom Cruise and the Elusive Maguffin, because that’s basically what they all boil down to. This one is no different. Which is a good thing. If it ain’t broke, don’t try and fix it.
This time around the elusive maguffin is a key which gives the owner access to a super, rogue AI system and ‘all the power in the land’. Cruise wants the key so he can destroy it. Everyone else wants it for the power. Since the bad guy is basically just a digital ‘eye’ that see and learns all, there is also a generic bad guy (something, something Ethan Hunt’s past) in order for Cruise to be chased or have someone to punch on top of a train. The plot is not a million miles away from Lord of the Rings now I think about it.
The usual team regulars are along for the ride with the addition of Haley Atwell as an enjoyable spanner in the works. Henry Czerny makes a welcome return as Kittridge and bounces off Cruise with the same joy he did in the first movie. I may have also spotted Cruise’s original leather jacket from that first film.
The series has always been pretty solid (not a fan on the third one - too much shaky-cam) but it has definitely raised it’s game from Rogue Nation onwards. The key here has been sticking with writer/director Chris Mcquarrie; a solid craftsman as adept with car chases as he is with guys in rooms threatening each other. He doesn’t waste a minute of the two and half hour run time - it runs at the same pace it’s star does; in fact, I almost wished they’d cut down some of the extended chase scenes to give the convoluted plot some breathing room. It crams in more extended peril before the titles than most movies manage in their entirety. It’s not a relaxing evening out if that’s what you’re looking for.
If there’s complaint’s to be had (and they raised the bar so high with the last two that I’m going to judge them by it) it’s the action scenes. We’ve already seen Cruise driving off a cliff in the promo stuff, and, being honest, compared to previous outing this feels quite pedestrian. Another extended car chase is impressive enough but lacks any memorably creative beats, and the train based finale, while exciting, doesn’t do anything that Steven Seagal didn’t do way back in the underrated ‘Under Siege 2’. The human villain is also forgettable and not a patch on the brilliant Sean Harris from the last two.
As I say though, I’m judging it against the standard they’ve set themselves. Unlike most movies these days you won’t feel like you’ve wasted your night out. It’s exciting, star-studded and spectacular. All the things you want from these movies is present - Cruise pulling off various masks to the M:I theme - check, waiting on the big moment before the titles burst on - check, Cruise risking death for your entertainment - check.
It’s a new Mission: Impossible movie. It’s a lot like the other Mission: Impossible movies. If you like them, you’ll like this one.