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Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Review: Tom Cruise Has No Peers

Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Part 1 Poster

Tom Cruise has been one of the most recognizable stars in Hollywood for, literally, my entire life. The original Top Gun (1986) came out nearly 10 years before I was born (1995), so I’ve never known a Hollywood landscape without Tom Cruise playing a major part in it. But somewhere in the 2010s it felt like Cruise had entered his “just a guy” era. Movies like Jack Reacher, Oblivion, Edge of Tomorrow, and The Mummy all made technically decent money. But nothing that jumped off the page to say that Tom Cruise was a big box office draw anymore. Maybe after a couple decades of being a huge star, the big Cinematic Universe machine had finally passed him by. Or so we might have thought. Looking at it now, though, with the trio of Fallout, Top Gun: Maverick, and now Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1 in the past few years, Tom Cruise has proven that not only is he still, at age 61, a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood but he is THE force. Dead Reckoning Part 1 confirms what we’ve known. Tom Cruise has no peers today as a movie star.

Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Synopsis

Mission: Impossible – Dead Recoking Part One Official Trailer

In Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team embark on their most dangerous mission yet: To track down a terrifying new weapon that threatens all of humanity before it falls into the wrong hands. With control of the future and the fate of the world at stake, and dark forces from Ethan’s past closing in, a deadly race around the globe begins. Confronted by a mysterious, all-powerful enemy, Ethan is forced to consider that nothing can matter more than his mission – not even the lives of those he cares about most.

Upping the Stakes

As the 7th film in the Mission: Impossible franchise, and following up the most successful film in the series to date, Dead Reckoning looks to heighten the stakes in every way for Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt. Obviously the fate of the world being on the line isn’t new territory for a movie like this. But Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part 1 weaves a thrilling, if a bit contrived, web of a story about a complicated AI weapon that feels especially timely given *waves hands vaguely* everything. While it’d be easy for a story about world-eating artificial intelligence to feel completely detached from real human stakes, Dead Reckoning does a great job of giving viewers plenty of characters to latch onto.

Tom Cruise and Hayley Atwell in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part 1
Hayley Atwell hangs with Tom Cruise every step of the way in Dead Reckoning

A Strong Supporting Cast

The stakes are a testament to the performances as well. You already know what Tom Cruise brings to the table. But beyond that, the supporting cast members, especially series newcomers and MCU-alumnae Hayley Atwell and Pom Klementieff, are all well-aware of what movie they’re in and they provide the perfect amount of bad-ass sexy international criminal energy that a movie like this needs. Obviously no one is going to catch an Oscar nomination for their work here. But in order for a movie like Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning to work, there can be no weak links in the action or the dialogue that take away from how cool everything and everyone you’re seeing on screen are. And I’m happy to report that there are no weak links here.

Dead Reckoning‘s main villain Gabriel (Esai Morales) is equally off-putting, dangerous, and kinda hot. Gabriel is the scariest possible manifestation of the AI/Crypto bros we’ve all come to despise on Twitter. He’s a fanatic who follows the AI unflinchingly to the point it’s become his God. And as annoying as that could have been, Morales makes it work by being fascinating to watch. Morales actually does what Rami Malek was trying to do in No Time To Die with the slow-talking heavy accent thing.

Esai Morales as Gabriel in Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Part 1
Esai Morales plays a fantastic villain in Gabriel

Tom Cruise Stands Alone

Ultimately, as good as the supporting cast and the plot are, that’s not why we’re here. As the great philosopher of our time Nicole Kidman said, we come to this place for MAGIC. And for the past few years, no one in Hollywood has single-handedly provided us with more movie magic than Tom Cruise.

Say whatever you want to about the Church of Scientology, or jumping on Oprah’s couch, or whatever thing you might want to knock Tom Cruise for. But at the end of the day, who am I to deny this man who has consistently risked both life and limb, purely for my entertainment, his rightful due?

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One | The Biggest Stunt in Cinema History (Tom Cruise)

Whether it’s jumping out of an airplane, climbing the world’s tallest building, or doing a motorcycle jump off a mountain, we know that Tom Cruise lives and breathes for this shit. I don’t know why he does it. Maybe he has a death wish. Maybe he’s had a mid-life crisis. Perhaps he’s wanted to do all of this stuff forever and he’s just now finding a way to make other people pay for it. I don’t care why. What I do care about is that every second of Tom Cruise doing cool shit on screen, and there’s a lot of that in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part 1, feels authentic and spell-binding. At my screening, you could feel the entire theater shifting to the edge of their seats for stunts. You could hear the child-like glee and amazement of grown adults who just watched Tom Cruise do the craziest shit they’d ever seen.

There are certain things in life that elicit a communal “OHHHHHHHHHHH” reaction. If you’ve ever been in a packed gym for a basketball game where someone did something absolutely amazing, it feels like that. And getting to be a part of it in person feels incredible.

I never thought I’d feel that in a movie theater. But there’s a stunt sequence in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part 1 that got that reaction out of my crowd at the screening I went to. Through sheer force of will and movie star badassery, Tom Cruise had my Tuesday night movie screening sounding like a basketball game.

You can keep the Keanu Reeves of the world. Brad Pitt, Leo, Matt Damon, Christian Bale, whatever MCU star you want to name. It doesn’t matter. Tom Cruise has no rivals and no equals as a movie star. He is a cinematic event unto himself. And we may never see anyone like him again.

Enjoy him while you can. And do so on the biggest possible movie screen you can find. Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part 1 is yet another can’t miss moment in an already incomprehensible legacy. It’s one of them ones.

Grade: A+
Recommendation: IMAX, Dolby, RPX, whatever you got at your local cinema. Go to that shit.

Check out our other Pop Culture coverage here on the blog including our reviews of No Hard Feelings, Moon Garden, Beau is Afraid, and more.

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Thanks for reading all that, and as always


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