It is clear that the Mission: Impossible series has benefited from the two visions of Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie coming to meet as one since the latter joined the series.
With Cruise at the helm, it was previously the done thing for him to hire a different director for each film, or two films, so that things can remain fresh. Brian De Palma, John Woo, Brad Bird, and McQuarrie have all had their shot, and it is clear that McQuarrie and Cruise share the enthusiasm for entertaining through action perhaps more than any filmmaking duo collaborating at the moment.
And, the latest movie in the series, Dead Reckoning Part One, is the apex of their crazy respective visions, as cinemagoers will be thoroughly, thoroughly entertained through the whopping two-hour 45-minute runtime.
The latest MI adventure sees Ethan Hunt and his IMF team take on their most dangerous threat yet - a new version of Artificial Intelligence that gains some nefarious motives after becoming sentient.
The movie is book-ended with two shots of a submarine, and crammed in between is the action movie of the year so far and probably the best Mission: Impossible movie to date.
As always, we are taken all around the world with the team with locations including Rome, Venice and Austria. This time, the IMF and Hunt are being dragged everywhere by the MacGuffin of all MacGuffins - two sections of a key that hold the, well, key, to stopping this AI which is known, a bit comically, as 'The Entity'.
Cruise obviously leads the way here, not only thrilling everyone with his insane stunts (the motorcycle jump off the cliff is even more ridiculous in the cinema than the vignettes suggest) but he adds an emotional core that is vital. Unlike some other movies of this ilk, like The Fast and the Furious bringing back numerous supposedly dead characters, this one actually has stakes, and that allows Cruise to shine in the quieter, sombre moments.
Supporting him is a fantastic ensemble cast, with newcomer Hayley Atwell as the standout. It is clear that Atwell will be the female lead early on in the movie, and although Rebecca Ferguson and Vanessa Kirby do have their moments, it would have been nicer to see those three, in particular, interact a bit more. However, their separation is kind of needed to move the plot along.
There is a bit of the 'will they? won't they?' scenario between Atwell and Cruise but there is undoubted chemistry between the pair and there is an argument to be made that the chemistry is better than Cruise has had with any of his other leading women in the series, including even Ferguson.
Though she has a few fistfight moments, her strengths come from her cunning and skills as a thief, which is a nice little change from the government-trained super agents that we usually see in Mission: Impossible.
Returning IMF pals Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg do their usual schtick and that is perfectly serviceable here as there are other areas to focus on.
A scene-stealer of Dead Reckoning is Henry Czerny's Eugene Kittridge, who has returned to the fold after missing every movie since the very first Mission: Impossible.
Kittridge has not lost his headmaster-like edge that could be seen in one of Mission: Impossible 1's best scenes in that restaurant across from Cruise. He commands respect even from Hunt himself, and the way Czerny plays things, you never really know whose side he is on. And, he is the much-needed master of exposition in Dead Reckoning.
Esai Morales and Pom Klementieff have tremendous fun as the villainous duo of Gabriel and Paris, but due to the amount of screentime given to Cruise and Atwell, as well as the true villain of the piece being The Entity, their characters are left a little undercooked.
Gabriel is effectively the one reason why Ethan Hunt even joined the IMF, but the movie doesn't provide much information on what happened in the past apart from one vital murder. Perhaps Dead Reckoning Part Two will address this.
Even though there is not a single minute of wasted action, Dead Reckoning certainly isn't perfect. The AI should arguably be more formidable than it is as there are several moments where the viewer is left wondering why it allows certain things to happen, Benji and Luther's computer antics for one, despite being pretty much invulnerable.
There are also a few hokey moments that seem like they belong in another franchise, such as the menacing noise the AI makes at certain points.
Over 2022 and 2023, Cruise has put in an all-timer action double bill with Top Gun: Maverick and Dead Reckoning Part One.
In 2024, he'll go for the triple threat with Dead Reckoning Part Two, and we absolutely cannot wait to see it.