4 out of 5 stars

The Mission: Impossible franchise returns with a serious bang in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One. Director Christopher McQuarrie once again shows that he’s the master of heart-pounding espionage thrillers – delivering set piece after set piece in this epic actioner. Tom Cruise reprises his now iconic role of IMF agent Ethan Hunt, giving yet another powerhouse physical performance that reaffirms his status as the most enduring (and best) action star in the business. However, while Dead Reckoning Part One again illustrates that Tom Cruise is a top tier physical performer – it also shows-off his under-appreciated prowess as a gifted comedic actor.

After Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One‘s tense opening submarine sequence, we’re catapulted into a world of high-stakes espionage, where Cruise’s Hunt finds himself entangled in an AI-fueled web of danger and intrigue as he attempts to stop ‘The Entity’ (a mysterious computer programme) from destroying the world as we know it. The action is front and centre, and Cruise’s dedication to performing his own stunts takes the film to extraordinary heights (that much publicised motorbike jump). Whether he’s leaping from one precarious situation to another or engaging in an intense hand-to-hand combat sequence, Cruise’s charismatic physical presence dominates the screen. He’s the last of the great movie stars.

The film deftly balances its action with some intricate character arcs, deepening the emotional connection to the narrative – pulling from material in Brian DePalma’s 1996 franchise starter (like the return of Henry Czerny‘s Kittridge) as well as going further back into Ethan Hunt’s past.

Rebecca Ferguson returns as Ilsa Faust, Simon Pegg‘s IT tech Benji again provides the comic relief and Ving Rhames adds some stoic support as the ever-reliable Luther. Meanwhile, franchise newcomer Hayley Atwell‘s Grace makes a great onscreen pairing with Cruise’s Hunt, a thief out of her depth in a world of spies and double-crosses. Esai Morales makes for a forbidding antagonist, an agent of AI and a spectre from Hunt’s past whose evil charisma dominates the screen like a Nespresso-era George Clooney. Credit must also go to Pom Klementieff for making hench(wo)man Paris one of the film’s – and the franchise’s – most memorable villains. 


McQuarrie keeps the audience riveted, masterfully orchestrating a symphony of heart-stopping thrills. The action sequences are meticulously choreographed and executed, showcasing an array of breathtaking set-pieces. You’ll be on the edge of your seat every time Lorne Balfe’s update of Lalo Schifrin’s theme kicks into gear. If the film has a flaw, it’s that the dialogue scenes between each action sequence feel like release valves, simply preparing us for the next big pressure spike. They’re necessary, but they never feel fully developed. Dead Reckoning Part One‘s runtime also feels slightly bloated in certain segments – it hardly dampens the overall experience but it could have been a good 20 minutes shorter. 

Ultimately, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is a high-octane spy thriller that hits all the right notes. Tom Cruise’s unwavering commitment, McQuarrie’s deft direction, and the impressive ensemble cast ensure this instalment is a real (and almost literal) rollercoaster ride. With its perfect blend of action and intrigue – this Tom Cruise starrer is a spy pic with all the right moves! You’ll be ready to accept Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two once the end credits roll.