Tom Cruise adapted the original 1960s–1970s “Mission Impossible” television series for cinema usage in 1996, and since then the franchise’s popularity has only snowballed.
You’ve probably heard about the on-set goings on regarding “Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One.” Tom Cruise’s production company continued shooting during the pandemic, and a leaked audio clip has Mr. Cruise berating his crew for not adhering to mask-wearing protocol.
Whether you agree with the COVID narrative or not, you can’t really fault a movie star, who continues to do death-defying daredevil stunts for our collective entertainment, for strictly observing safety rules.
According to press notes, Mr. Cruise rehearsed for this film’s apex motorcycle stunt by completing more than 500 skydives and 13,000 motocross jumps. This is part of why he’s being touted as America’s last real movie star. Mr. Cruise has always, ever, been about excellence in movie-making, and I give credit where credit is due. It’s probably the summer of 2023’s only real blockbuster.
'Mission'Much like 2022’s rather astounding “Top Gun: Maverick” (although not quite on that level), this latest “Mission” installment is yet another colossal, expertly engineered Cruise vehicle delivering the maximum Cruise payload.
At 2 hours and 43 minutes, it spends a bit too much time on expository yakking, which, while being stylized in delivery to the point of being slightly annoying, gets the job done and allows one to have more clarity while watching Mr. Cruise do his Cruise thang.
What Goes OnEthan Hunt (Cruise) and his Impossible Mission Force (IMF) team embark on their latest assignment (that they’ve chosen to accept, of course) of preventing a humanity-extinguishing MacGuffin from falling into the wrong hands.
What is it? An omniscient, nameless, faceless artificial intelligence program that would very much like to hack the entire civilized world. It’s such a massive threat that one movie can’t handle it all, and “Dead Reckoning” will pick up again in the summer of '24.
Which means, for now, that the AI MacGuffin must be located and chased around, with some double-reverse fake-outs via pickpocketing, and knife fights atop moving locomotives.
There’s a set piece stolen, I think, from a "Jurassic Park" installment; you know the one, where cliff-hangerish-ly, the protagonists must crawl up through a vertical train car that’s literally hanging off a cliff.
Another wave of déjà vu hit me during a car chase that takes place in Rome. I’d swear they used the same grand staircase to roll Mr. Cruise down, hilariously, in a tiny yellow Fiat that this summer’s installment of “Transformers” rolled some transformers-in-car-mode down.
Then Mr. Cruise, à la Evel Knievel, motorcycles with alacrity up a natural cliff ramp and barrels into the void, popping his chute and attempting to land aboard that runaway train. If you like roller coasters, this is your movie.
PerformancesMr. Cruise once again nails his role as Ethan Hunt, performing most of his own stunts with impressive precision while not taking himself too seriously.
As I’ve always maintained, Mr. Cruise is one of our most underrated comedic actors, in both clown and straight-man capacities. When Ethan encounters the beautiful, mysterious, international criminal Grace (Hayley Atwell), a thief who keeps trying to steal one half of a key that’s crucial to stopping the AI nemesis, Ethan meets his match: Grace outwits him, and Atwell scene-steals like the pro she is. But it takes a generous star like Mr. Cruise to let himself be upstaged for the overall good of the production.
Returning players like kittenish, dangerous, nose-crinkling Alanna (Vanessa Kirby) and the noble Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) don’t scene-steal; their performances all support the narrative seamlessly.
“Part Two” comes out next summer, but “Part One” is expected to repeat the success of last year’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” which was such a phenomenal success that it prompted master director Steven Spielberg himself to praise Mr. Cruise for saving the entire movie industry.
Lately, Mr. Cruise’s mission—which he appears to have accepted—is reinstalling in the public consciousness the superiority of seeing films in actual cinemas, as opposed to streaming platforms. Definitely see “Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One” in IMAX.