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‘Mission: Impossible 7’: Everything We Know About Tom Cruise’s Latest Death-Defying Installment ‘Dead Reckoning Part One’

Your mission — should you choose to accept it — is to head to theaters on July 14, 2023 for the long-awaited (and COVID-delayed) seventh installment of Tom Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible” film franchise.

“Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” marks Cruise’s latest outing as Ethan Hunt, an agent of the Impossible Missions Force (IMF), who embarks on an operation which — as the title suggests — promises to be his most dangerous yet.

On Sunday, Cruise quite literally dropped in during a commercial break for the NFL on CBS to thank moviegoers for watching his other high-flying sequel, “Top Gun: Maverick,” in theaters over the summer. Before he backflipped out of an airplane, Cruise reminded viewers that he and filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie (who co-wrote “Maverick”) were hard at work on the “Mission: Impossible” movies in South Africa.

Then, on Monday morning, Paramount and Skydance released a nearly nine-minute video that made it clear that jumping from an airplane isn’t even the half of what Cruise will be doing in these films.

In the behind-the-scenes clip, which first debuted for theater owners at CinemaCon in 2021, Cruise, McQuarrie and the film’s crew demonstrated how they pulled off a stunt where the actor drives a motorcycle up a ramp and off a cliff, leading into a base jump, which was a highlight of the movie’s first trailer.

“This is far and away the most dangerous thing we’ve ever attempted,” Cruise said of the stunt, which is billed as the “biggest in cinema history.”

To train for the complicated sequence, Cruise skydived over 500 times and did about 13,000 motocross jumps.

“I have to get so good at this that there’s just no way I can miss my marks,” Cruise explained, reinforcing just how perilous this all is.

“Coming up with the stunt is just one of the technical challenges,” McQuarrie added. “The other is putting a camera in a place where you can see where Tom is doing it — finding the right lens, the right platform, the right medium. Even two years ago, the cameras didn’t exist that would allow us to do what we’re trying to do today.”

Because Cruise wants to give the audience “that thrill” — and quite possibly a heart attack — the camera must be as close to him as can be. And from the looks of things so far, the audience won’t miss a single bead of sweat dropping from his brow.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, Tom Cruise, 1996. (c) Paramount Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.

Here’s everything you need to know about “Dead Reckoning Part One”:

What does “Dead Reckoning” mean?

The seventh “Mission: Impossible” movie’s title was officially revealed at CinemaCon in April 2021, and fans immediately wondered what the mysterious phrase might signal for Ethan and the IMF team. “Dead reckoning” is a navigational term, McQuarrie noted in an interview with Empire magazine, where he explained the connection between the phrase and the plot.

“There are many things emerging from Ethan’s past,” the filmmaker told the magazine. “[Dead reckoning] means you’re picking a course based solely on your last known position and that becomes quite the metaphor not only for Ethan, but several characters.”

The film’s first trailer gave a glimpse into exactly which ghosts from Ethan’s past might reappear, beginning with Henry Czerny, who reprises his role as former IMF director Eugene Kittridge for the first time in more than 25 years.

“Your days of fighting for the so-called ‘Greater Good’ are over,” Cherny’s Kittridge tells Hunt at the top of the teaser, which previews all the death-defying action sequences to come.

As the tensions builds, Kittridge continues, serving Hunt with an ultimatum: “This is our chance to control the truth. The concepts of right and wrong, for everyone for centuries to come. You’re fighting to save an ideal that doesn’t exist. It never did. You need to pick a side.”

Cruise has starred in and produced all the “Mission: Impossible” movies, which are based on the 1966 television series created by Bruce Geller and have grossed over $3.5 billion at the box office. While the sequels (2000’s “Mission: Impossible II” and 2006’s “Mission: Impossible III”) used standard-fare Roman numerals to distinguish them, the Brad Bird-helmed fourth film, 2011’s “Ghost Protocol,” bucked that tradition. Then, McQuarrie took over the franchise with the fifth and sixth films, subtitled “Rogue Nation” and “Fallout,” respectively.

“M:I-7” and “M:I-8” were announced In January 2019 with plans to film the movies back-to-back, but the COVID-19 pandemic delays and Cruise’s promotional duties for “Top Gun: Maverick” ultimately scuttled those plans. “Dead Reckoning Part Two,” as it will presumably be called, is currently filming and is scheduled for release on June 28, 2024.

Who’s in the cast?

“Dead Reckoning Part One” follows the events of “Fallout,” where Hunt and his IMF crew saved the world from a nuclear apocalypse amid a series of double-crosses, including a memorable turn from Henry Cavill (as CIA assassin August Walker). The movie was the highest-grossing entry in the franchise, earning nearly $800 million at the box office.

Rejoining Cruise for this mission are Simon Pegg (IMF field agent Benji Dunn), Rebecca Ferguson (former MI6 agent turned IMF ally Ilsa Faust) and Ving Rhames (IMF computer technician Luther Stickell, who is Hunt’s closest friend and the only other character to appear in all seven movies).

Simon Pegg (Benji Dunn), Rebecca Ferguson (Ilsa Faust), Tom Cruise (Ethan Hunt) and Ving Rhames (Luther Stickell) in “Mission Impossible: Fallout.

Also returning from “Fallout” are Vanessa Kirby — Alanna Mitsopolis, a black market arms dealer also known as the White Widow — and Frederick Schmidt, as her brother Zola. The siblings are in the family business: Their mother is Max (Vanessa Redgrave), the world-class smuggler Ethan tangoed with in the 1996 original. 

Among the spy thriller’s new players are Hayley Atwell, Esai Morales, Pom Klementieff and Shea Whigham, who all feature prominently in the film’s first footage. Atwell plays a mysterious new character named Grace, while Morales serves as “Dead Reckoning’s” primary villain.

In March 2021, McQuarrie announced that the cast would also include Cary Elwes, Indira Varma, Rob Delaney, Charles Parnell and Mark Gatiss. Rounding out the ensemble are Greg Tarzan Davis (who appeared with Cruise in “Top Gun: Maverick”) and Mariela Garriga, both in undisclosed roles. Joining the ensemble for “Mission: Impossible 8” are Holt McCallany, Nick Offerman and Janet McTeer.

COVID Delays

“Dead Reckoning Part One” was initially scheduled to debut on July 23, 2021 before the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the film almost exactly two years. Its release date has changed four times.

The production was one of the first major studio films to resume after the pandemic struck, but its globe-trotting shoot proved to be challenging as COVID cases waned and then surged in many of the half-dozen countries where the movie was set to shoot. As the production pivoted locations, it also shut down approximately seven times, and the budget ballooned to $290 million, which far surpassed the $190 million spent on “Fallout.”

While the cost-increases were unavoidable given the circumstances, Cruise also became the champion of COVID-safety on set in December 2020 after an audio clip leaked to the press of him chastising crew members on location in the U.K. for not adhering to the protocols.

As first reported by The Sun, after Cruise saw two crew members standing too close to one another in front of a computer screen, he told the crew: “We are the gold standard. They’re back there in Hollywood making movies right now because of us. Because they believe in us and what we’re doing. I’m on the phone with every fucking studio at night, insurance companies, producers and they’re looking at us and using us to make their movies. We are creating thousands of jobs, you motherfuckers. I don’t ever want to see it again. Ever!”

While the clip was controversial due to Cruise’s obvious frustration, George Clooney was among Cruise’s defenders, telling Howard Stern (via E! Online) that the actor “didn’t overreact because it is a problem.”

Clooney added: “I have a friend who’s an AD on another TV show who just had the almost exact same thing happen with not quite as far out a response… I understand why he did it. He’s not wrong at all about that. You know, I just, I don’t know that I would have done it quite that personally, but I don’t know all the circumstances so maybe he had it 10 or 15 times before.”

Tom Cruise (Ethan Hunt) in “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.

Does this mark the end of the line for Ethan?

When news broke that “Dead Reckoning” was planned to be an epic two-part extravaganza, audiences couldn’t help but be reminded of the end of the “Harry Potter,” “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games” franchises, which all ended with two-part finales.

In February, sources told Variety that the two films were designed “as a sendoff for Cruise’s Ethan Hunt character,” but filmmakers will neither confirm nor deny that this is his swan song.

“I’ve been working with Tom Cruise for 15 years and I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve been standing next to the man, witnessed an event and then read about it in the trades the next day and none of what they describe is actually true,” McQuarrie said when asked directly about the future of the action franchise during an appearance on the “Light the Fuse” podcast.

He added: “You learn to ignore it and laugh at it. In today’s world, you wait 17 minutes and another news cycle will sweep it away.”

Our estimation?

As long as Cruise keeps bringing in the box office bacon, it stands to reason that the impossible missions can — and just might — continue.

… Should he choose to accept them.

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