October 3, 2023

Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible-Dead Reckoning Part One. But is the film an explosive action thriller or is it more of a damp squib?

Light the fuse, Mission: Impossible-Dead Reckoning Part One is ready to explode into theatres. The seventh film in the long-running franchise once again features Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, a part he first played back in 1996 in the original film. No one could have guessed that twenty-seven years later, he would still be blowing up the world’s box offices as the character.

This new movie is the first part of a two-part finale for Cruise’s time taking on villains and impossible missions around the world. After seven movies, you would think that the franchise would be running out of steam. So, is the movie an explosive action thriller that will blow box offices apart again? Or is it more of a damp squib?

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning – Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.


Ethan Hunt and his IMF team embark on their most dangerous mission yet: to track down a terrifying new weapon that threatens humanity before it falls into the wrong hands. With control of the future and the fate of the world at stake, and dark forces from Ethan’s past closing in, a deadly race around the globe begins. Confronted by a mysterious, all-powerful enemy, Ethan is forced to consider that nothing can matter more than his mission – not even the lives of those he cares about most.


If you think the franchise is dead in the water, think again. Once the film opens, hold onto your seats. The rollercoaster ride during the 163-minute run time (you will hardly feel it) is the best movie of the summer by far. Forget those movies that promised much and delivered little, this is the REAL deal, folks. What we saw in the trailers, featurettes, etc are little more than something to whet our appetites. From the opening that sets the tone for events to the closing shot, this is summer blockbuster entertainment at its finest.

The action set pieces are completely amazing to watch, and the plot, though confusing at times, is riveting, and the drama, tension, and emotion are undeniable. Where some films seem to dawdle, this one seems as if someone wound it up, said Ready, steady, go, and let it loose. The energy hardly ever drops but when it does, it is replaced with a plot that actually keeps all our attention on the screen. Old friends and enemies return, and new threats and friends make their debut. And it adds up to a package that is a complete winner.



It is a very rare occasion. Every member of the cast gives their all in every scene. And we can’t find fault with any of them. The return of Ving Rhames as Luther, Simon Pegg as Benji, Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa, and Vanessa Kirby as Alanna Mitsopolis are once again, exemplary. Without giving away any spoilers, two of the characters make their departures from the film earlier than expected, for differing reasons. However, knowing that a second part of the finale is coming, we can understand. The interaction between Rhames and Pegg as their respective characters makes the pairing perfect casting. Rhames comes across as somewhat serious for the most part, while Pegg delivers a funny but measured performance as Benji. When the muck hits the fan, both are in their element.

Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.


Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa is almost like a comforting blanket. When she is on screen, we feel completely safe, knowing the character as we do now. The second she appears, we are in safe, familiar territory. But Ilsa also once again displays her ruthless side, whether it be punching someone, shooting them, or even engaging in a knife fight, the toughness is there. And Rebecca Ferguson once again makes us marvel not only at her physical prowess but also at her superb acting during the quieter moments. (Yes, there are a few quiet moments.)

Rebecca Ferguson in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.

Vanessa Kirby as Alanna a.k.a The White Widow makes a welcome reappearance. However, her role is limited slightly, and her character seems to have changed since the last film, and not for the better. That being said, she delivers yet another superb performance, one that will have the audience cheering, booing, and laughing in equal measure. Without her, the film just wouldn’t feel right. We have come to enjoy seeing Alanna appear during proceedings, whether for good or bad. And that makes her all the more likable.

Vanessa Kirby in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.


Much has been made of the return of Henry Czerny as Eugene Kittridge. And I’m happy to report that he fits into the film and its narrative with ease. Last seen in the first film, Kitteridge makes his return in a typically modest fashion. It is Kitteridge that sets Ethan on his latest mission via the usual self-destructing message. But throughout, we are never sure which side he is on, if any. The story keeps us guessing until the climax of the film. But Czerny is the perfect former cast member to bring back for this finale. It seems perfect that Kitteridge returns once more. And Henry Czerny, although older, of course, fits back into the role as if he has never been away. And his inclusion is a real highlight.

Tom Cruise and Henry Czerny in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.


The new cast members fit into the film like the perfect pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Hayley Atwell as Grace makes for a brilliant foil for Cruise’s Ethan. A thief by trade, the pair spend the majority of the first half of the film trying to one-up each other. Grace is the key character in the story moving forward, other than Ethan. And Hayley Atwell makes her likable, engaging, and the perfect leading lady. Ethan hasn’t really had a foe like this before, playful, serious, and with a cutting wit to boot. The actress really impresses in her role and becomes someone we are yearning to see more of in the second, concluding part of the story.

Hayley Atwell and Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning – Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.

Esai Morales as Gabriel is a villain that we don’t expect. Gabriel is a powerful terrorist, one who doesn’t need to snarl or be overly aggressive. His calm demeanor hides a ruthless streak that seems fitting for the character. He also has a history with Ethan, something that we discover during the film that makes this a more personal mission for him. The scenes between Morales and Cruise are tense and thrilling and we can’t tear our eyes from them. Morales gives a performance that suits the film, its story, and the events perfectly. We are lulled into a false sense of security by him, only to discover he is one of the deadliest villains the franchise has given us to date.

Esai Morales and Pom Klementieff in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.


But the new characters are blown away by the performance of Pom Klementieff as Paris. Paris is Gabriel’s henchwoman, one that is almost completely mute during the entire film. But this only adds to the delight we get from her when she is on screen. Whether it’s a fight scene in which the French actress excels or an action sequence that we can’t take our eyes off, Pom Klementieff is a revelation. We discover early on that Paris has no compassion when it comes to killing someone, she does it and saunters off into the crowd. She also has no fear of being caught or killed. This is evident during one of the film’s standout chase scenes. And the actress gives her all in what truly is a standout performance.

Pom Klementieff in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning – Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.


But, of course, the film belongs to one man. Tom Cruise. And he delivers here what could be one of his best-ever performances recorded on film. His Ethan Hunt is one of the most beloved characters in the movies, after Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell in ‘Top Gun’ and its sequel. But Cruise has excelled himself here. We all know his dedication to his craft, his willingness to perform his own stunts, and how he is involved with every process his films contain. None is more evident than here. Whether it be recruiting a new IMF agent, running through a packed airport to escape his pursuers, trying to arrange a deal with The White Widow, or simply driving in a VERY small car, Cruise is on top form. He is likable as always, the character we root for from the second he appears on screen, and the action hero the franchise needs.

But when it comes to the set pieces which are all excellent, he comes fully into his own. The much-lauded motorcycle stunt, when seen on a cinema screen, is simply breathtaking. There is no CGI here, this is all Tom Cruise giving his all for the perfect sequence. And it thrills us even as we know it’s coming. Add in the Speedflying that Cruise performs in the film, and the audience can do nothing but sit back in amazement. The action he gives us during the climax, and the emotional weight he throws behind Ethan have us clapping our hands with glee once the end credits roll.

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.


The direction from Christopher McQuarrie, from a screenplay by himself and Erik Jendresen is sheer perfection. This is his third time behind the camera on a Mission: Impossible film (with his fourth currently filming), and it shows. McQuarrie proves to the whole world he is the perfect choice to write and direct these movies. Marking his ninth project with Cruise with the tenth coming next year, the pair know exactly how to present this kind of movie to audiences. The way McQuarrie directs his actors and his action sequences displays the sets and countries that appear in the film in outstanding ways, and just the way he throws everything onto the screen to perfection makes his movies soar.

Without a good score though, especially using the classic theme, the film wouldn’t feel right. But once again, Lorne Balfe has provided a score that is incredible. It is a perfect score for the movie, without a doubt. The classic cues hit at just the right time, giving the audience goosebumps when they drop. But the score also brings new cues into play, giving the film a more rounded feel than ever before. Balfe gives the film composing world a new marker to hit or exceed. Every note is crisp, clear and resonating. And suits the film down to the ground.

Shea Whigham and Greg Tarzan Davis in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.


Mission: Impossible-Dead Reckoning Part One is the perfect summer entertainment for everyone. It is not only a film that fans and non-fans alike can enjoy, but it also is a brilliant espionage thriller in its own right. Crosses and double-crosses are in abundance here, alongside a sense of fun and enjoyment. There are a few surprises along the way for the audience to discover and they add to the overall entertainment to be had here. Fans will get a kick out of the references to what’s happened in the franchise previously but non-fans can experience the film without feeling left out or behind.

Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning – Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.

Tom Cruise proves that when his time is up in the franchise, he will be sorely missed. The franchise will continue after the actor’s final appearance in the movies but it won’t feel or be the same without him. The final shot of the film gives the audience a feel for what’s to come, and we can only speculate on where they will go from here. But the filmmakers will have one hell of a job to top this chapter of the franchise. Exciting, fun, dramatic, and top-quality entertainment, the film will be hard-pressed to be beaten in the summer movie race. For the finale to beat this film isn’t Mission: Impossible. But it damn well is close to being so. Light the fuse, sit back, and get ready for an explosive night at the movies.

Mission: Impossible-Dead Reckoning Part One will be in UK cinemas from July 10th, and U.S Theatres from July 12th, courtesy of Paramount Pictures. To catch up on the movie franchise so far, you can stream them all on Paramount+.





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