'Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One' review: Cruising to thrilling absurdity


By AGENCY

Why settle for an ordinary bike tour of the mountains when you can enjoy a flying Cruise? — Photos: Handout

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Cast: Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Esai Morales, Vanessa Kirby, Pom Klementieff, Henry Czerny.

Seven movies into the Mission: Impossible series, let’s just acknowledge a couple of things: 1) Obviously the mission is possible. 2) The true hero of this franchise is whoever fills out the insurance forms for Tom Cruise, who in this movie rides a motorbike off a cliff, like that’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

It’s no spoiler to say that Cruise and his hardworking parachute survive the jump (unless he didn’t, and a very impressive ghost is now doing all of his red-carpet appearances, and that is a movie I would very much like to see), but watching it in the movie, time truly does seem to stop for a second.

It’s thrilling, and that’s very much the point of “Mission: Impossible: I Feel Like There Should Be Another Colon Here” or whatever this new one is called.

When we get home, I’m having a strongly-worded talk with our car rental guy.When we get home, I’m having a strongly-worded talk with our car rental guy.

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who’s ably handled the last few M:I movies, Dead Reckoning Part One unfolds along lines familiar to anyone who’s seen any of the previous installments.

Rogue agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his team at the Impossible Missions Force – which includes brilliant hacker Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and equally brilliant data analyst Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), who both have the magical ability of showing up exactly when and where Ethan needs them to – are trying to save the world from a mysterious, all-reaching enemy, in a mission whose stakes are “higher than ever,” as the voice on the self-destructing cassette player says. (I love that it’s still a cassette player.)

Well, at least this time the car is new.Well, at least this time the car is new.

Cue the car chases, death-defying stunts, far-flung locations and scenes of government operatives sitting around in an extremely dramatic fashion; pass the popcorn.

The plot, which also involves various people being or not being dead and a healthy dose of classic M:I-style People Literally Pulling Off Faces That Don’t Belong To Them, is of course both absurd and completely unnecessary; we’re watching this movie not to see what happens (honestly, who can tell?), but to take pleasure in watching a crew of A-list actors risking life and limb, and looking suave while doing so.

That's it, I'm never bothering with cars ever again.That's it, I'm never bothering with cars ever again.

Some key new characters are introduced, most notably Grace (Hayley Atwell), a thief with a naughty smile and a knack for speeding around Rome in a teeny yellow Fiat while handcuffed to Ethan.

And we get the usual world tour, which this time also includes desert (Abu Dhabi), canals (Venice), the beautiful Doge’s Palace (also Venice) and the green mountains of Norway, giving a quite credible portrayal of Austria – and providing a backdrop for a late-movie train sequence that’s so breathtakingly tense you wonder how on earth the next M:I will top it.

Another impossible mission? Let me go get my Batman soundtrack.Another impossible mission? Let me go get my Batman soundtrack.

So yes, everything you might wish for is here, but unfortunately something else creeps in, too, just a bit, that’s a little less welcome: a sense that we’ve been here before, that the scenes stringing the stunts together are sometimes less than compelling, that two hours and forty minutes is a very long time for a movie that’s basically a setup for the next one.

Cruise valiantly throws everything he’s got into the movie – including a lot of his trademark Very Intense Running – and the result mostly works, but it feels like a franchise that’s winding down. Here’s hoping a few thrills have been saved for Part Two. – By Moira MacDonald/The Seattle Times/Tribune News Service

8 10

Summary:

The mission is still very possible

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