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  • Gareth Crook

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One (2023) - 4/10

Dangerous dudes have a deadly stealth weapon on a state of the art submarine. They’re Russian, of course. No one can find them, it’s… impossible. Twaddle obviously as someone or something hacks their computer and they wind up dead in the water. It’s classic action movie intro and this is a classic action movie. I’ve lost count of where we are in the series and I’m not sure I’ve seen them all, but it doesn’t matter. There’s enough back story thrown in to keep even newcomers up to speed and the story slows every now and then to cram in some clunky dialogue ensuring no one gets lost. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is a secret agent type working for IMF, a shadowy organisation that looks after the world, keeping the oblivious masses safe from evil. He’s tasked to find a key that unlocks that deadly weapon now sat at the bottom of the ocean. A simple enough premise. These films rarely get complicated. The point is the visual spectacle. Car chases through Rome, gun fights in swirling sand storms and runaway trains. Blink and you’ll miss something. It probably won’t be important, but it might be fun. Cruise handles the action and the pithy one liners, whilst Mark Gatiss covers some of the espionage plot. Outlining to Cary Elwes and other suits that the real danger is a sentient AI hiding its secrets on that sunken sub, how very modern. Find the key, control the weapon, keep the good guys safe, but who are the good guys, who can be trusted. Certainly no government. Hunt and his team, Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg), the most unlikely trio, set out to find both parts of the key and what it unlocks and kill it before anyone can use it for themselves. It’s basically a string of set pieces. Sequences are kept separate to let you catch your breath, but when the action gets cooking, it leans hard on the gas, intercutting chases, with guns being pointed and bombs counting down. It’s like Bond, less dramatic, a little more fun, not as clever. The supporting cast are mostly solid. The set pieces are nicely choreographed and the cinematography dialled up to eleventy stupid. It’s not without its issues though. It’s indulgently long and this is only part one. There’s zero justification for this, other than ego (how many minutes do we really need to see Cruise running) and money at the box office. Vanessa Kirby as the wonderful named White Widow scrapes by as one of many villains. Esai Morales too as Gabriel, a fantastical character prone to philosophical claptrap, clearly meant to be an angel of death. It’s ticks along well enough, but it’s all surface. You don’t really care about the characters and some quick cuts and rousing music are not enough to inject any empathy or drama. Two and a hour hours later, nothing much has been achieved other than Cruise getting to have some fun skydiving. I’ve no idea when part two is due, to be honest I don’t really care.



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