Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One ★★★

"It is written."

Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie will see your pivot, which is actually a concerted effort, towards soulless automated (AI) content and raise you the full power of Georges Méliès, the Lumière brothers, and Buster Keaton themselves – sleight-of-hand magic tricks, steam locomotives falling into their watery graves (or just receding out of frame and out of sight), and a hopeless romantic with a complicated private life risking life and limb in the name of mass entertainment. It's a fascinating movie conceptually – one that I imagine we'll be revisiting with a sense of awe in 20 years' time, when the struggle it's laying out will seem that much more futile and worth it – but as with Fallout, I do wish this was a bit less of a Cruise solo show. Atwell and Klementieff (so little screentime, so much star power) are excellent additions, and the set piece and stunt work is undeniable, but what lights up the screen for me the most are the scenes between Cruise and his teammates, the moments where unabashedly sincere friendship is turned into heist movie magic. (Fast & Furious talks a big game about family, but its understanding of it is arguably based on Mission: Impossible's.) There are morsels of that here too, most notably in the delightful Abu Dhabi sequence (Benji disarming that bomb was probably the emotional standout for me, even if it is essentially a meta joke about raising the stakes by shifting Fallout's big climax into act one), but the subsequent drive to separate the team seems slightly misjudged to me, like an obligatory delay to ensure there's material for part two to cover. And indeed, the ending, when it comes, seems all too premature. Will definitely revisit this before the sequel comes out, and it is a very fun time at the movies (and generally an improvement over Fallout), just not quite with the infectious exuberance of a Ghost Protocol or a Rogue Nation.

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