Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One Review

Dragon Movie Guy
5 min readJul 14, 2023
Courtesy: Hayley Atwell joins Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One/Paramount/Photo by Christian Black/Christian Black — © 2023 Paramount Pictures.

Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning brings back Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt for the seventh time in a film so bad, even Russian sailors have Americanized bad Russian accents.

This ‘Part One’ doesn’t make you want to come back next year to watch ‘Part Two’ of Dead Reckoning, even after almost THREE HOURS of runtime.

The Plot — Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One

Artificial Intelligence slowly infiltrated the real world over the last 10 years, and made a HUGE splash with Chat GPT last November. Artificial Intelligence in the form of ‘The Entity’ joins the Mission Impossible Universe in Dead Reckoning, and THIS A.I. makes an even bigger splash than Chat GPT.

Ethan Hunt joins the hu — , err ‘search’, for the LITERAL key to controlling the nebulous, ill-defined A.I.

Journeying to the barren wasteland that is The Empty Quarter, Hunt runs smack dab into Rebecca Ferguson’s ‘Ilsa Foust’, who, of course, holds the key, or at least part of it. After a fun, but poorly edited action scene with nameless, faceless mercenaries trying to take it, Ethan returns with half the key.

From here on out, the film devolves into a rather painful series of government officials spouting vaguely non-specific, pessimistic exposition; mixed in with Action scenes that are either too long, too shaky, or too boring.

Enter, ‘Grace’, played by Hayley Atwell. Grace is a character that even a room full of spies can’t figure out her last name, but somehow uses close up sleight of hand even better than Agent Woo in Ant-Man And The Wasp.

No Country For Old Men has nothing on the characters chasing characters who are chasing characters in Dead Reckoning — it just does it MUCH better. The question that should be asked about an overly complicated, overly crowded film of characters, is which characters actually make it out at the end? And, which ones don’t come back for ‘Part Two’?

The Good — Mission Impossible 7

Hayley Atwell

Hayley Atwell might be best known as Peggy Carter in the Captain America movies, but she makes quite a first impression as Grace, despite not having a last name.

A pick-pocket and thief, Grace flows seamlessly from con to con, able to grift her way through life with the best of them. But, Atwell brings a charm and grace to the part that transcends the limitations of her rather vague character.

Atwell’s energy and presence in an otherwise quite dour film brings some hope to the franchise. I don’t know if the bad energy/cynicism on display throughout Dead Reckoning is because it was being filmed through the height of the pandemic, or not. But, the ONE thing working to raise the film up, is Hayley Atwell.

The Bad — Mission Impossible 7

Christopher McQuarrie

It pains me to write this, as Christopher McQuarrie has penned some of my favorite movies of the past 30 years, including several in the Mission Impossible series. But, when so many things go wrong in the same movie, the buck stops with the Director.

The Russian sub scene cast with American actors doing BAD Russian accents? The repeated scenes of high level government officials spewing plot exposition that actually makes the film MORE un-clear and nebulous than before the scene started? The seemingly endless Italian chase sequence that feels like a ripoff from Fast 10, but the un-inspired version?

What shocks me is that the Screenplay for Dead Reckoning is as bad as the Directing, and McQuarrie has pulled double duty TWICE before in the MI Franchise. So, what’s the difference, OTHER than making two films at the same time?

Not sure what is going on with Christopher McQuarrie, but he’s the weakest link in this film.

The Tone

This is a bit vague, as any kind of spy/thriller movie involves stress and the threat of the end of the world. You can’t expect Mission Impossible movies to be Pollyanna-ish, and you wouldn’t want them to be.

But, the tone, the feel, the overall cynicism of Dead Reckoning oozes from every fiber of this film, and for no reason. Part of the FUN of the MI series is the pulse pounding energy over how Ethan Hunt and his team are going to save the world.

But, Dead Reckoning is D.O.A. This film makes the viewer feel like nothing Hunt and his team does will make a difference, and you wouldn’t even want him to bother trying.

Instead of creating suspense and a ‘will they’ atmosphere; Dead Reckoning creates a feeling like you wouldn’t even want them to bother saving the world, if this is the world that is left over. It’s pessimistic, it’s defeatist, and it’s flat.

Courtesy: Tom Cruise and Rebecca Ferguson in Mission Impossible 7/Dead Reckoning/Paramount/Photo by Christian Black/Christian Black — © 2023 Paramount Pictures.

The Review — Dead Reckoning

Considering Dead Reckoning is supposed to be Part One of Two that could supposedly end the Mission Impossible series on a high note, I wouldn’t be shocked if it ends the series with a soft, moist thud.

Anyone who remembers Tom Cruise screaming at the top of lungs during the heights of the Covid-19 Pandemic, knows how the energy of this finished feature film feels.

One thing has nothing to do with the other, but it is interesting how the stuffy energy and claustrophobic nature of the Cruise rant ALSO feels like the finished film.

From the opening submarine sequence, to the government functionaries spouting exposition that confuses more than it clarifies; Dead Reckoning is a slog. It’s confusing, it’s flat and it feels like it will be… **ahem** ‘Impossible’ to save the series with Part Two.

Skip It. Don’t even bother watching on Streaming or Cable. It’s 163 minutes of your life you will never get back.

Courtesy: Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One Movie Score/Dragon Movie Guy/YouTube



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