Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie

Ethan Hunt and his IMF team embark on their most dangerous mission yet: To track down a terrifying new weapon that threatens all of humanity before it falls into the wrong hands. With control of the future and the world's fate at stake and dark forces from Ethan's past closing in, a deadly race around the globe begins. Confronted by a mysterious, all-powerful enemy, Ethan must consider that nothing can matter more than his mission—not even the lives of those he cares about most.

This isn't my franchise at all, but were the Mission Impossible films really always this self-reflective with all this 'well, that happened!' glib soy banter? Yes, movies can absolutely laugh at themselves and deconstruct their own genres as they go along, but what is behind this acute lack of sincerity in most modern blockbusters? Is it a want of confidence in their own artistic project, or that a film cannot be seen to take itself seriously and must therefore pre-emptively arm itself against accusations of being too genuine? What really grates, of course, is that all these moments of 'banter' feel performed and precisely fine-tuned, carefully sprinkled throughout the movie to get a chuckle every X minutes or so. I enjoyed this kind of comedy schlock in True Lies (and I was a huge fan of Simon Pegg back in the early 2000s), but it doesn't quite work here... and I inwardly groaned when I realised that all movies in the next decade will be essentially about the same 'evil' AI as well. Now, I saw this in the second row of my local IMAX, which certainly helped nudge me into awarding an extra half-star to its rating despite the flagrant abuse of the Dutch angle. But it also meant that this 2h43m movie thankfully only felt like a 2h20m one. Give me Top Gun: Maverick again, please.


Kittridge is back [and] he’s gone gray, all the better to ignite his gelignite eyes, and his scenes with Cruise crackle with a terse, quasi-mythical nostalgia (right down to the canted, De Palma–ish camera angles) and set the tone for a movie taking a leisurely, purposeful victory lap around its own legacy.
[Director] McQuarrie’s signature is more like a serial number: Each unit engineered on his watch holds together on its own terms while locking into a larger design. His skillful self-effacement—and careful obeisance to Cruise’s whims—makes him the perfect caretaker for a franchise that continues to exist and excel as a weird sort of paradox, a box office juggernaut defined by all the things that it is not. For instance, the M:I movies are not superhero fables, but their steady kineticism (and patient world-building) outstrips Marvel’s sitcom blandness and the DCEU’s faux-mythic bombast in one fell swoop. They’re not calamitous, incoherent brand extensions like the Transformers sequels or dusty, desperate intellectual property renovations à la Indiana Jones.
Above all, in an era when the steady proliferation of CGI in both the foreground and background of mainstream moviemaking has made literally anything seem possible, [the Mission Impossible movies are] largely, proudly analog, showcasing a commitment to stunt work that feels like an existential thesis statement. […] As for th[is] movie itself, it’s about on par with its immediate predecessors: a swift, absorbing string of implausibilities, luxuriously packaged in stunning detail.

Adam Nayman (The Ringer)