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Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One Review: Tom Cruise Powers The Film With Ease

Tom Cruise, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One Review: Both Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg get their due, but Rebecca Ferguson is forced cede ground to Hayley Atwell, who portrays a peripatetic pickpocket.

Amid all the explosive action that constitutes an expectedly intrinsic part of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, the one ‘key’ takeaway from the movie is that the key to knowledge, preparedness and survival in an Artificial Intelligence-fuelled future will inevitably have to spring from the real world of humans.

In the seventh Mission: Impossible film, directed by Christopher McQuarrie from a screenplay co-written by him with Erik Jendresen, Tom Cruise‘s irrepressible and insuperable Ethan Hunt finds himself up against a mysterious and invisible power with the potential to wreak havoc on mankind.

It is this force – it has acquired a dangerous degree of sentience and gone rogue – that holds the key (a glittering, physical one at that) to what lies in store for mankind. On its part, its true nature and potency can only be unlocked with a key split into two halves, and not with the aid of some super-secret formula hidden in the virtual world.

The rest of the world, led by CIA director Eugene Kitteridge (played by Henry Czerny, last since in Mission: Impossible, the film that kicked off the franchise), intends to wrest control of the evil force known as “the Entity”. The goal is weaponisation of AI and global domination.

Ethan and his Impossible Missions Force (IMF) team – Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and his love interest Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) – are, on the other hand, determined to eliminate ‘the Entity” for good. They are willing to go to the end of the world to achieve their goal.

They stop at nothing, but when the film winds up, they are well shy of their destination but the operation hangs tantalisingly between a past that nobody can escape and a future that promises an exciting finale.

Welcome to the world of lies, says somebody who appears to know too much. This character and a few others underline the fact that total control over the “The Entity” will enable universal manipulation of the truth. Ethan Hunt’s battle this time around is, therefore, aimed at taming a fount of lies that can play vicious tricks with human minds.

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Ethan’s mission is obviously not destined to be accomplished in this film – a second instalment is scheduled for release in a year from now. In fact, we are told more than once that “the key is only the beginning”. Is Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One likely to have the audience asking for more? The answer is a resounding YES.

The movie packs enough twists and turns into its 163 minutes to keep the audience glued to the screen. Dead Reckoning Part On is as old-school as an espionage thriller can get. Therein lies much of the film’s strength.

Crazy street chases, an intriguing cat-and-mouse game at a busy international airport, fisticuffs atop a running train, even a swordfight on a bridge across a Venetian canal (and this one does not even have Ethan Hunt in the thick of the action) – it is all out here.

Both Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg get their due, but Rebecca Ferguson is forced cede ground to Hayley Atwell, who portrays a peripatetic pickpocket, Grace, whose thieving skills come in handy at crucial junctures of the plot.

Grace’s defining line is: you cannot blame a girl for making a dishonest living. But she, like the other IMF members who made a life-altering choice at a point in their lives when all doors seemed shut, is allowed a shot at redemption and glory. The character and the actor grab the opportunity with both hands.

The villainy department is hogged by Esai Morales as Gabriel, who leads everyone to believe that he knows what the key will unlock. Vanessa Kirby returns as scheming broker Alanna Mitsopolis, the White Widow, and French actress Pom Klementieff dons the guise of a fierce assassin who works for the big bad guy.

Unsurprisingly, it is Tom Cruise who powers the film to the cruising altitude with ease. He channels his ‘classical’ movie star charisma, successfully conceals his advancing years, and fires on all cylinders. He ensures that the latest entry in one of Hollywood’s most popular film franchises never flags.

That is not to say that the pacing of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is without a wobble here and an uneven stretch there. It does indeed waver occasionally, but that damage caused is mercifully minimal.

It, of course, takes a great deal of devastation to save the world from being annihilated. Ethan and his mission to stave off a threat from “a godless, stateless, immoral enemy”, a truth-altering “parasite bent upon infecting the world’s intelligence networks and, through means entirely digital, gaining control of mankind’s future, leaves behind a trail of destruction.

Ethan’s fight against a dangerous, mighty and almost incomprehensibly venal foe is rooted in the actual world, in the domain of palpable emotions, and in recognisable tugs of love and friendship. The film has ample space for tears and these are shed at moments that are convincing enough not to be dismissed as mere cosmetic balancing acts.

So, when someone says that none of our lives can matter more than this mission, one does not gasp in disbelief. It is a part of the flow of things. Or when Ethan says to Grace: I swear your life will always matter more to me than my own”, and the latter’s eyes turn moist, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One acquires a patina of humanity that gives the action movie hurly-burly a believable context.

There are stray passages in the film when one feels that they are being stretched inordinately. But notwithstanding its length, Dead Reckoning delivers more thrills than spills, even when the action set pieces and dizzyingly mounted chases – one unfolds on the streets of Rome, another in the alleyways of Venice, and the grandest one of them on a train hurtling through the Austrian Alps – are a touch protracted.

They are nonetheless staggeringly well executed – a quality that extends across a film that a magnetic Tom Cruise, a cast that supports him to the hilt, some stunning stunts and generous dashes of humour render the film well worth the three hours it demands of our time.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One packs a massive wallop.

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