MOVIE REVIEW: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE DEAD RECKONING PART ONE
The seventh movie in the Mission: Impossible franchise is non-stop action, where the plot does not get in the way of the daredevil stunts. And this is only the first installment of “Dead Reckoning Part One.” Will there be a sequel? It’s a sure thing.
This summer blockbuster was filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic amidst many delays over two years. It premiered finally on June 19, 2023, on the Spanish Steps in Rome. We’ll have to wait for the second episode until June 28, 2024. Budget: $291M.
We’re re-introduced to the remaining IMF (Impossible Mission Force) from previous movies: Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg). Former MI6 agent, sometimes IMF agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), has appeared in a couple of the previous M:I movies and comes in from the cold for this one.
Sure, some of the actors are getting a bit older – Cruise is 60 – but that does not detract from the energy.
Notable newcomers to the Impossible Mission Force:
Pom Klementieff plays “Paris,” a deadly adversary to the IMF team. In Seasons 4 & 5 of the original Mission: Impossible TV series, you may recall that Leonard Nimoy played a lead character named Paris. A subtle tribute to the great actor who also played Star Trek‘s Mr. Spock.
Female lead Grace is played by Hayley Atwell, who you’ll remember as Agent Carter from the Marvel Captain America & Avengers movies. She handles the action well with youthful athleticism and close-up prestidigitation. She’s a welcome addition to the team.
We’ve seen before the “White Widow,” a wicked arms broker, is played by Vanessa Kerby. You may remember her as Princess Margarette from The Crown.
Nothing Artificial about Mission Impossible Except the Intelligence.
The bad guy isn’t a guy; it’s a rogue AI called the “Entity,” who we meet early in the film. This artificial intelligence-on-steroids has infiltrated the Russian Navy, US government agents, and every intelligence community on the planet.
But the most fantastic part of this popcorn thriller is the action stunts: fight scenes, car chases, high-level jumps, parachutes, train wrecks, you name it, this one’s got it.
Music Trivia about Mission Impossible
The theme song, one of the most recognizable tunes in film and TV, was written in 1967 by Lalo Shifrin in 5/4 time. His working title was “Burning Fuse.” He said he wrote it for
“the people in outer space have five legs and couldn’t dance to our music, so I wrote this for them.”
He started with the Morse Code for the letters M I, “_ _ ..”; if a dash is one and a half beats and a dot is one beat and, then this gives a bar of five beats, exactly matching the underlying rhythm. Dum dum, da da, dum dum, da da…
The song won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Theme in 1968.
Mission Impossible: Ready, Set, Action!
The locations provide excellent opportunities to break things and crash cars.
- They were fighting in and on a train bound for Innsbruck. Not just any train; this was murder on the Orient Express!
- Cruise riding a motorcycle off a cliff in western Norway.
- A train crash in Stoney Middleton in the Peak District of central England. A stone bridge was bespoke built amongst quarries in Derbyshire.
- Horseriding across the Quiet Corner outside Abu Dabi in the United Arab Emirates. Plus, there was lots of filming in and upon the Abu Dhabi airport before it was opened to the public.
- Shops in the Grand Central New Station in Birmingham, England, intended to look like the Abu Dhabi airport.
- Knife/sword fights on a bridge across a canal in Venice, Italy following a fancy party at the Doge’s Palace in San Marco’s Square and jumping from water taxi to gondolas.
- Car chases down the Spanish Steps in Rome, with the Colosseum in the background.
But my favorite action scene was the final one in the film, and I’ve been waiting to see it since I visited it last September. Without giving away the plot, Tom Cruise parasails into a field next to a mountain lake.
This is a field next to Buttermere Lake, where I took a coach tour last Fall in the Lake District of northern England and learned that the filming crew had spent a few days getting the landing shot just right. Here’s what it looks like from the road. If you see the film, and you will, note the stream – pictured here – coming down between the mountain behind Tom Cruise when he lands.
You’ll like it if: You want the best action stunts in the movie-making industry, epic set pieces, strong men, beautiful women.
You won’t like it if: Plot or character development is essential to you and you want your action stars to be more than twenty years younger than Harrison Ford (80).
Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian