[Film review] Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning, Part One

Review by John P. Harvey.

An artificial intelligence (A.I.) has been set loose.  It has made its way into highest-security online systems, and it poses multiple existential global threats to everything from mass and social media to water supplies to military security.  Any of these could end very badly.

When the Impossible Mission Force (IMF) calls on Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) to handle it, his mission — should he choose to accept it — is to recover the instrument that is the only means of disabling or controlling the A.I. and deliver it to the U.S. Government.  To begin with, Hunt will have to track down his old friend Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson).  Of course, Ilsa isn’t sitting in some exotic location sipping a cup of the world’s best coffee and waiting for Hunt to show up.

Then there are other parties who find the prospect of controlling the world with the A.I. irresistible — including the alarmingly capable A.I. itself.

If you’ve watched previous Mission Impossible films, you’ll know that they keep up with international politics and stay slightly ahead of current high technology; even the original television series did that; so the timeliness of Dead Reckoning in mining the subject of an out-of-control A.I. may come as no surprise, therefore, and it takes a special kind of storytelling for an A.I.’s emergent capabilities to keep taking us unawares.  Scripted by a master, Dead Reckoning Part One tells its story utterly engagingly, making the IMF team’s goal emotionally critical to ever-increasing stakes.

Tom Cruise brings great talent, great discipline, great focus, and great conviction, to consistently make Ethan Hunt a distinctive icon of high-octane moral manliness in action.  But this film’s entire production package is deluxe: fabulous cinematography, inspiring soundtrack, with new takes on Lalo Schifrin’s timeless theme first heard in Bruce Geller’s original television series in 1967; great acting all round, and heart-stopping stunt work; meticulous direction by Christopher McQuarrie, who also directed the past two Mission Impossible films; and a brilliant script.

Screening at Palace, Dendy, Hoyts, and Limelight cinemas.

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