Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning
Tom Cruise and Hayley Atwell in Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One Image Credit: Paramount Pictures and Skydance

You have seen super spy Ethan Hunt put his life on the line dozens of times in the hit Mission: Impossible franchise, but Tom Cruise evades the curse of fatigue with impossible aplomb.

In the latest installment, ‘Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One’, the 61-year-old Cruise proves he’s made of some seriously stern stuff as he pulls off a string of solid stunts with the agility of a twenty-something dancer.

Whether he’s leaping off a cliff on a motorcycle, hanging off a falling train with a deep abyss below him, or battling a sandstorm and enemies on a horse in the desert, Cruise, as Hunt, makes it look incredibly wondrous. We all know how this film is going to turn out and how Ethan Hunt will save the proverbial day without much dent on his person, but the beauty is that you remain invested in him and his adventures from the word go. He’s this indestructible hero that gets better with each passing year.

Director Christopher McQuarrie’s ‘Dead Reckoning’ chapter sees the Impossible Mission Force team led by Hunt and his motley crew of endearing and reliable special agents, Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Ving Rhames (Luther Stickell), fighting off a formidable enemy called ‘The Entity’ – a rogue Artificial Intelligence force on the verge of taking over the world. A key if fallen into the wrong hands could destroy humanity and Hunt is on a clock to preserve the world.

Watch the stars of 'Mission Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One' talk about their action spectacle:

The intangible-but-lethal enemy in this chapter is topical in the current grim climate where everyone is worried if AI will snatch our jobs, amplifying the appeal of this latest action thriller. But be warned, the plot of two halves of a key if merged together has the power to destroy the world might feel juvenile but if you are ready to run with Cruise and his improbable missions, then you are likely to have a lot of fun here.

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While the ever-dependable Cruise does a neat job of entertaining, it’s the women in this testosterone-charged action drama that makes this film thoroughly enjoyable. Hayley Atwell as Grace, a professional pickpocket who gets embroiled in Hunt’s mission to track down the enemy, is a pleasure to watch. The scenes in which Cruise and Atwell get stuck in a quaint yellow fiat in the narrow streets of Rome, battling their enemies and the local police force, is an absolute treat. Their chemistry and their sense of impeccable comic timing as they struggle to make sense of the small vehicle lightens the mood considerably.

Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning
Hayley Atwell plays a thief in the latest Mission: Impossible

‘Dead Reckoning’ features several strong female characters – think Rebecca Ferguson returning as the fierce Ilsa Faust – a former MI6 agent turned IMF ally – and Vanessa Kirby as the nefarious arms-dealer Alanna Mitsopolis a.k.a the White Widow. Newcomer to the franchise, Pom Klemintieff as the sociopathic assassin Paris, also makes her mark with impressive force. The scenes in which she is in a gigantic Hummer ploughing off vehicles and unsuspecting pedestrians, while trying to hunt down Ethan Hunt, makes her a diabolical force. Her glee at wreaking havoc and mowing off heads makes her one creepy addition.

Actor Esai Morales, as the impenetrable villain who’s new to the franchise, also ticks all the boxes of being suitably sinister.

'Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning, Part One'
Esai Morales, left, and Tom Cruise in 'Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning, Part One'. Image Credit: Paramount Pictures/Skydance

The verbal repartee among all these characters – when they are not baying for each other’s blood and lives – is wicked and thoroughly enjoyable. But you don’t buy the tickets for a Mission Impossible ride for the smart writing or cackling humour per se, you buy into this familiar ride for its globe-trotting and gratuitous gravity-defying stunts. And Cruise – who is notorious for doing his own stunts and is the long-enduring portrait of practice-makes-perfect -- delivers beautifully on that front.

The scenes set in the yet-to-be-opened Midfield Terminal in Abu Dhabi (watch out for the scene where Cruise sprints across the roof of the airport) and a gloriously-set sandstorm against the beatific Liwa Desert feels oddly entertaining as a UAE resident who’s familiar with that terrain. But remember that your degree of enjoying this stunt-filled spectacle is directly proportional to you suspending belief for over two hours. If you can take a leap of faith with Cruise – just like he did when he rides a motorbike off a cliff and falls from the sky – then this 'Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One' will land smooth.

Our rating:
Movie: Mission Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Cast: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff, Vanessa Kirby, Simon Pegg
Stars: 4 out of 5