FILM REVIEW — Can Tom Cruise save Hollywood again?

Published 12:02 am Friday, July 14, 2023

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“Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning, Part 1

Paramount Pictures

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie

Starring Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, Pom Klementieff and Esai Morales

Rated PG-13

3 Stars

It’s been a hit-and-miss summer at the movies, in terms of both quality and box office receipts. But have no fear, Tom Cruise is here.

As he did last summer, Cruise is back with a major summer blockbuster that should get audiences flocking to the theaters. This time it’s “Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning, Part 1,” the seventh film in the franchise. If you judge these films by their edge-of-your-seat action sequences, this one ranks as one of the best.

By now you’ve probably seen the main stunt sequence online. Cruise rides his motorcycle over the edge of a high mountain cliff and then jumps off the falling bike and deploys his parachute at the last moment. It’s a visually stunning and quite impressive stunt, but for my money, it doesn’t even rank among the film’s best action sequences. Those would include the delightful car chase through the streets of Rome, and the grand finale, the fight to stop the bad guys and then escape from a train before it speeds off a destroyed bridge, surely killing everybody on board.

That final action set piece is worth the price of admission alone.

Then again, the “MI7-1” is so over-stuffed with action and an unnecessarily complicated plot that it brings the film in at a bladder-busting 163-minute run time. The action is great, but a lot of the film is just filler, and the plot strains credulity.

The story involves Cruise’s IMF team racing across the globe to get a set of keys that are the, um, key to stopping a malevolent artificial intelligence that wants to rule the world. Granted, it’s something that seems like it’s ripped from today’s headlines, but it’s not very cinematic. You can’t punch a computer bad guy in the face, so the film is forced to bring in Esai Morales as the human operative working for the computer. There’s a bit of a letdown when the film’s big bad is only a flunky.

On the other hand, we get to meet a new character, a pickpocket (Haley Atwell) who starts out as the mischievous thief who can hold her own against our hero. She adds chaos to the mission, giving the film added energy and suspense. I was also impressed by Pom Klementieff, who plays a delightfully insane French assassin. Credit to Cruise and company for staffing this huge hero blockbuster with so many memorable and powerful female characters.

But in the grand scheme of things, the success or failure of this franchise rests on the sturdy shoulders of 61-year-old Tom Cruise. He is more than capable of believably pulling off the action, and while he is finally starting to look his age, his energy and enthusiasm never flag.

And he’s still the greatest on-screen runner of all time. He simply looks heroic whenever he sprints across the screen to save one of his IMF teammates.

It’s been 27 years since the release of the first “Mission Impossible” movie. All this time later, they are as good as ever. From the amazing action sequences to the memorable characters and of course, Tom Cruise himself, “Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning, Part 1” is a superb blockbuster that should go a long way to saving the summer movie season this year, and probably again next year when “Dead Reckoning, Part 2” wraps up the franchise.

Movie reviews by Sean McBride, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week by Orange Newsmedia and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at