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Does Mission: Impossible Still Have It?

The Mission: Impossible franchise is a prime example of blockbuster cinema at its finest. This is not only the most reliable saga going but has actually improved over time. Mission: Impossible – Fallout serves as not only the best one in the series to date, but also firmly among the Mount Rushmore of action classics. Following the success of Fallout, anticipation was rightfully sky high to see what would come next for Ethan Hunt and his team. Unfortunately, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1 is unable to meet these lofty expectations, proving to be another quality entry, albeit one of the weakest.

The story follows Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and the rest of his team, including Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg), as they attempt to track down a highly sought after artifact that may be the only key to stopping a new all-powerful foe (Esai Morales). Along the way Hunt crosses paths with familiar faces in the form of ex-spy, Illsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), and international arms dealer, Alanna Mitsopolis (Vanessa Kirby), as well as a new face in the form of Grace (Hayley Atwell), a thief possessing an agenda of her own.

The biggest drawback of the movie is the storyline, which feels like a “jumped the shark” moment for the franchise. In an effort to continually up the ante, the franchise delves closer than ever before into the realm of science fiction. While the creative decision results in relevant themes, it just doesn’t work within a Mission: Impossible universe that, while playing fast and loose with the laws of physics, has always remained grounded. Additionally, the tone takes a sharp turn, cramming in more humor than any of the previous entries. At times it feels like the writing is undermining Ethan Hunt’s long track record of superspy skills in favor of creating moments of situational comedy. The result is effective humor that feels completely out of place. The fact that this is Part 1 of a 2-part story only further weakens the overall product. The plot takes its time to build up toward a conclusion that leaves the story unresolved. The audience is left wanting more, but more in an unsatisfied manner than an excited one.

These criticisms keep Dead Reckoning Part 1 from reaching the heights of its predecessors, but they in no way prevent it from being a solidly entertaining thrill ride. It achieves the franchise’s quota of having at least one awe-inspiring set piece, which, along with some well-choreographed fight sequences, keeps the spectacle high enough to mask (pun intended) most of its flaws. The craftsmanship on display is undeniable as well, with gorgeous cinematography, stylish costume design, and a terrific score. Tom Cruise continues to pour his heart and soul into these projects, delivering another intensely physical performance that keeps the viewer enthralled from start to finish. Rebecca Ferguson is great once again, although in a much smaller capacity than past outings. The highlight performer though is without a doubt newcomer Pom Klementieff as Paris, an assassin who crosses paths with Hunt during his mission. She steals every scene she is a part of, oozing swagger and effectively evoking emotion with primarily body language.

Overall, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1 continues the trend of a series that has not missed, which is increasingly impressive as this is the 7th one (and counting). A weaker than usual story is balanced out by immaculate set pieces, culminating in a perfectly good action flick that while closer to the franchise’s high floor still has its fair share of memorable moments. I give it 3 out of 5 Stars and recommend it to any fans of the action genre.

-Matt Chouinard


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