Mission Impossible - Dead Reckoning, Part One

Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One

The name’s Cruise, Tom Cruise. Or rather it’s not. That’s James Bond’s infamous introduction infused with hidden menace and danger. Instead of savoir faire or lurking threats, Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is all about railing against injustice and course correcting global conspiracies.

With its loose glance towards John Le Carré’s playbook on spying being “an unbecoming profession”, many, if not all of Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossibles fall upon the betrayals of rival spy agencies and bad guys who never read Le Carré. So, in a manner normally reserved for Ian Fleming’s secret servant, I believe the best way to assess Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One, is to look at the quality of the opposition. And… sadly, this time, the bad guys are anonymously mild, headed up by an ominous-looking screensaver. Yup. A screensaver.

… needed so much more than just a scary screensaver to make you credibly fear for either humanity, the IMF crew or even Tom Cruise’s bank balance.

I’ll give you the pitch.

The Russians have an screensaver-looking AI that can make their submarines undetectable. So far, so Hunt For Red October but then the sub’s AI goes rogue, becomes self-aware and scuttles the submarine in its first step towards world domination. As a result, every spy in the world then embarks on a MacGuffin hunt for two cruciform keys which can tame the ambitious AI. Along the way, old foes and former flames reappear and the plot tries to glue together two and a half hours of huge stunts and Tom Cruise running across rooftops into a palpable sense of dread.

Yet, despite Rebecca Ferguson being on hand to provide some dependable trade-craft grit, this mission improbable quickly becomes disconnected from any genuine suspense or awe. Don’t get me wrong it’s very professionally produced and it’s very easy on the eye but its humour this time often feels forklifted into place. Add this to even more liberal raidings of James Bond’s back catalogue and Dead Reckoning starts to feel as over hill as the yellow Citroën skit stolen from 1985’s Octopussy.

So, with a title sequence that serves as an in-film trailer for the remaining three-quarters of the movie, Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning meets its true nemesis – femme fatale fatigue coupled an over reliance on rubber masks.

Ultimately for a film this lavish, the story needed so much more than a scary screensaver to make you credibly fear for either humanity, the IMF crew or Tom Cruise’s bank balance.

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