Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)
July 10, 2023 7:26 PM - Subscribe

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.

If this is the state of the art of the action movie, it's a little depressing, actually. Don't misunderstand, there's nothing seriously wrong with it, but it's impossible to watch most of the major set pieces without thinking about recent, similar blockbusters using similar settings. There was only one sequence near the end that showed some creativity; otherwise, a lack of imagination that began with "oh look, it's Wargames (1983)" and never really let up. All the leads do respectable jobs, and everything looks good. You'll probably enjoy it. There's just more cool in any given five minutes of John Wick 4 than in all 170 minutes (!!!--too long) of this one. It's hard to blame this one for having the same "two ultimate-times-eleventy-billion!!! powers duking it out" issue that afflicts most summer blockbusters these days, but since there's not much to distract you, it's more irritating.

(Also, Christopher McQuarrie, you are not Sir Carol Reed, put down the Dutch angle before anyone else gets hurt.)
posted by praemunire (40 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This is part one and it’s 170 minutes long?!?!
posted by billsaysthis at 8:09 PM on July 10, 2023 [5 favorites]

Yes, and the pacing is too primitive for it to work. I wouldn't say it dragged, exactly, but there is definitely a strong sense of sameness at certain points.
posted by praemunire at 10:14 PM on July 10, 2023 [1 favorite]

All that, but also it rankles that when someone says "the greater good" it's not immediately repeated by other characters.
posted by biffa at 1:25 AM on July 11, 2023 [15 favorites]

I clapped in delight at the army of typewriters – at that moment I knew I was in for the most bonkers of science fictional action nonsense (a la Battlestar Galactica) and the movie did not disappoint.

Honestly I had a great time. The Rome car chase was long, but always entertaining and mixed things up by having Hayley Atwell drive. Fun train sequence! Great locations! Hayley Atwell, again!
posted by adrianhon at 1:47 AM on July 11, 2023 [8 favorites]

if you look back at the Mission: Impossible films, there’s a clear connection between them, a commonality that gives each movie core: running like all hell.
posted by chavenet at 4:39 AM on July 11, 2023 [3 favorites]

I clapped in delight at the army of typewriters

Actually, you're right, that was charmingly goofy (but...maybe not...totally absurd...?).
posted by praemunire at 7:49 AM on July 11, 2023

Hayley Atwell, again!

General actorly charisma kept this thing above the waterline, though Pegg (surprisingly, given his resume) and Rhames struggled a bit with the soggy comedy. Tom Cruise puts his all into making people like him (I refuse, but must acknowledge the effort), Ferguson and Atwell do their parts justice, Esai Morales is a tasty villain though his motives remain baffling (you think the Entity isn't going to dispose of you eventually, my guy?). Hope everyone spotted Pom Klementieff as the Harley Quinn type, last seen as Mantis in GOTG3! (Also, small cameo for Mark Gatiss with an American accent. Put Mycroft in your continuity, you cowards!!!)
posted by praemunire at 8:07 AM on July 11, 2023 [3 favorites]

(...which prompts another thought about other movies, which is how good James Gunn is about not defaulting to sexifyin' female action characters. Contrast Margot Robbie in the first Suicide Squad movie and his, Klementieff here (inexplicable plaid miniskirt for the chase scene) and in GotG3, and Daniela Melchior also in his Suicide Squad and in her the-world's-your-gynecologist outfit in Fast X.)
posted by praemunire at 8:26 AM on July 11, 2023 [1 favorite]

Esai Morales is a tasty villain though his motives remain baffling

The motive for all of them is control of the entity isn't it, rather than being last on the list of its victims? Having said that, he did feel a bit of a straight off the production line baddie - the character was a bit underwritten.
posted by biffa at 8:27 AM on July 11, 2023

He seemed to have a sort of religious belief in the Entity and to be willing to act as its "ambassador." It's always possible he's planning a double-cross of it in the end, of course.
posted by praemunire at 8:29 AM on July 11, 2023

I was very nervous about the pacing and jumping around and too much going on for the first… half hour? But then the title sequence come up and things were good. I’m a sucker for a late title but after that many scene changes I was worried they were skipping it.

Pacing in the middle was a little off, especially compared to the other 3 recent M:I films, which I rewatched this week. But it’s worth emphasizing that this is a fairly self-contained Part One with no cliffhanger at the end, just a call to what the ongoing story will be for Part Two. And after too many summer blockbusters hitting pause in the middle of the story I’m glad to see this approach.

One of my favorite parts of meta-storytelling was the dude with the green gas bombs from the trailer, which they were able to use for excitement in the previews but also not give much away!

And of course a special shout out to Cary Elwes who made quite certain we all know about the valuable knowledge he alone has.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 5:16 PM on July 11, 2023 [3 favorites]

I liked the image of the dead sailors slowly floating to the underside of the ice cap with the key floating around their necks. Good thing their bodies were actually thrown free, though, huh.
posted by praemunire at 6:00 PM on July 11, 2023 [1 favorite]

I liked this one but like Judd Apatow's comedies, this was assembled in the editing room. I know this is their process, three-four movies in, but I'm still skeptical of its value. That said, if McQ and Cruise and their team ever wants to do a lecture series on their logistical planning, I'm down.
posted by cendawanita at 8:33 PM on July 11, 2023

if McQ and Cruise and their team ever wants to do a lecture series on their logistical planning, I'm down.

Honestly, one of my main thoughts as I walked out at the end was, "This must have been an unbelievable amount of work to organize."
posted by praemunire at 12:22 AM on July 12, 2023 [4 favorites]

It's fascinating for sure, because the more I'm reading about the BTS of the McQ era the more evident how working-class their process sensibilities are, especially even as they managed to keep to budget (roughly and especially in comparison with their genre cohort) while actively workshopping the narrative like they're rehearsing for theatre. To do something that loose for something at this scale (with real hard deadlines and constraints)... Yeah, lecture series.
posted by cendawanita at 1:02 AM on July 12, 2023 [1 favorite]

I share people's confusion about Gabriel's (Esai Morales) whole deal. The Entity appears to be using Gabriel for its own ends and helping erase him from the airport, predict the future, etc; Gabriel treats it like god, but wants to obtain the key to control the Entity(?). And Luther theorises that the Entity is trying to get Ethan to assemble the key and then kill Gabriel.

I can just about understand that if the Entity basically wants to eliminate Gabriel and anyone else who know about the Sevastopol, and perhaps it thinks the key is worthless without that knowledge. But then... it thinks Gabriel won't guess the plan? Or doesn't care? Seems weird.
posted by adrianhon at 1:10 AM on July 12, 2023

it rankles that when someone says "the greater good" it's not immediately repeated by other characters.

There have GOT to be a couple of outtakes where Simon Pegg does this as a goof.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:00 AM on July 12, 2023 [6 favorites]

Watched it again on MX4D, which is one of those moving shaking novelty theatre class, which pretty much turned this into an amusement park ride. Now that's an excellent way to take this in. Anyway, feeling super amused, because it wasn't me who said it this time, but someone along my row who was like, bruh this is like Fast & Furious. *happily cashes in on own call about this being the convergence year*
posted by cendawanita at 9:16 AM on July 13, 2023

I enjoyed that quite a bit.
posted by kbanas at 6:56 PM on July 13, 2023

Hayley Atwell was all kinds of fun in this, but killing off Rebecca Ferguson just to make Tom sad was such bullshit. What, they're not allowed to have two women on the team? Ferguson has been so good in these movies. I can buy that maybe Gabriel could take Ilsa in a fight, but I can't believe The Entity could count on it. I think she wins that fight 2 times out of 3, minimum.

But Atwell having only a normal person's driving skill made that huge car chase so much fun. The gag with the car rolling over and swapping drivers was delightful, but really the whole thing was unusually good. It was long car chase followed by a longer car chase but stayed interesting and inventive the whole way.

I wonder how much the Mission Impossible filmmakers tore their clothes and wailed when they saw Fast X having a huge crazy car chase on those same steps in Rome just a couple months before their film came out? Actually my biggest laugh of the film might have been the notice at the end of the credits that "By no means did we drive any cars down those famous steps in Rome. We built fake ones on a set somewhere."

"Also Rebecca Ferguson was not actually stabbed by a real knife and we didn't really blow up a gorgeous historic stone bridge in Austria."
posted by straight at 10:42 PM on July 14, 2023 [3 favorites]

Hayley Atwell was all kinds of fun in this, but killing off Rebecca Ferguson just to make Tom sad was such bullshit. What, they're not allowed to have two women on the team?

When Atwell first turned up, I thought, well, you can't have two attractive women on the team, and so looks like one of them's going to go in the finale, my money's on the "older" one.

I will say, though--given that the whole story starts with a fridging--Ilsa went to her death by her own choice, she did it to save Grace, and the main focus was on Grace's reaction, motivating her to give up her prior life and do some insanely dangerous things for the team.
posted by praemunire at 11:32 PM on July 14, 2023 [2 favorites]

Which is something the movies and the team have been known to do. The whole movie is a sleight-of-hand, it's hard to assess/decide if the plot beats are plot holes for now.

Besides, NSA Director Cary Elwes visibly bled out after being knifed, Paris didn't and we know she's alive, and Ilsa... didn't. 😌. And two characters established in this movie itself who will decide not to disclose Ethan any details that would worry him are Luther and Ilsa. The whole movie is being meta with the idea of what you see is not the whole truth. Which might make it the most spy movie it's ever been since the first one, back in the 90s.
posted by cendawanita at 4:01 AM on July 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

Ilsa... didn't.

I did wonder about that. I'm sure it's not impossible to die from a single penetrating wound to the shoulder with the object left in in what must have been only a few minutes. But it seemed really, really tidy. That might have been a "dignity for Ilsa!" moment, or it might have been something else.
posted by praemunire at 7:07 PM on July 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

I was fully expecting some trickery with the switchblades.
posted by straight at 7:28 PM on July 16, 2023

I will say, though--given that the whole story starts with a fridging--Ilsa went to her death by her own choice, she did it to save Grace, and the main focus was on Grace's reaction, motivating her to give up her prior life and do some insanely dangerous things for the team.

I came back to say the same thing. The villain's plan is to make Tom sad by killing the girl, but the movie really makes Grace the viewpoint character for the reaction to Ilsa's death and frames it as a heroic rescue.

Ethan's not berating himself for Ilsa's death, nor does it seem to really change his hatred for the villain which was already pegged at 10 before the movie started. I really liked Ethan's "People die in this business and I can't guarantee your safety. All I can promise is to value your life more than my own." Ethan cares about his team but isn't making it all about himself.
posted by straight at 7:37 PM on July 16, 2023

It occurs to me that if they could successfully fake Ilsa's death, that would be a huge advantage in dealing with an opponent, and an opponent's agent, who believes they know everything.
posted by praemunire at 11:46 AM on July 17, 2023 [1 favorite]

For sure. What did Gabriel say so confidently at the party? He'd leave with the key once Ethan witnesses either of the women die. He didn't leave the party or eventually the train with any key though.

This feels like a long shot now, but I'm putting in my chips on Benji being sus. Inadvertently or not, I'm not sure. But between the self-driving car that's not compromised and the fake Benji voice saying "you are done" ( U R DUNN) as the final word to Ethan, that's the guy I'm seeing slipping the radar of speculation.
posted by cendawanita at 5:29 PM on July 17, 2023

I thoroughly enjoyed this and actually found it much better paced that John Wick 4. Definitely too long but every movie is now. The final train sequence was just incredible though, just a masterclass set piece.

I don't think it's as good as Fallout but I also think Fallout is one of the best action movies ever made, so it's a hard comparison.

I'm surprised there's not more love for Pom Klementieff - I thought she was great! Incredible outfits and styles (I mean, just look at this), really solid fight/stunt work and the gleeful expression on her face as she was driving that massive SUV around Rome was just so delightful. Maybe I latched onto her as she seemed like the one person having _fun_ amongst all the pathos and chaos.

I was fully ready for Part II immediately (which now is likely delayed due to the strikes going on).
posted by slimepuppy at 1:30 AM on July 20, 2023 [5 favorites]

I just watched "M:I Fallout" as my first "M:I" movie and it was really something. My Apple Watch warned me that my heart rate was over 120 in the final half hour and I wasn't surprised at all.

I've always hated Cruise, but the movie qua movie was fantastic. So now I am going to watch all of the others, by which time I should be able to rent this one. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 5:47 AM on July 20, 2023 [2 favorites]

I've always hated Cruise, but the movie qua movie was fantastic

If you're inclined to over-reading, something about his affect started shifting from the point Mcquarrie entered his creative life, around movie no. 4, the one with the Burj Khalifa stunt (he got uncredited writing role iirc).
posted by cendawanita at 7:25 AM on July 20, 2023 [1 favorite]

Incredible outfits and styles (I mean, just look at this

I enjoyed her work here, too, but the Harley Quinn influence is pretty apparent. It's a fun style.
posted by praemunire at 8:52 AM on July 20, 2023

Mission: Impossible and Eurocentric stunts, from Hollywood to Hong Kong. What does an action movie want to be?

a perfectly cromulent essay about the franchise & more
posted by chavenet at 7:51 AM on July 21, 2023 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty sure my eyeballs made an audible clunk after rolling upwards on the line about "a Benjaminian aura of Unreproduzierbarkeit".
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:16 AM on July 21, 2023 [1 favorite]

Oh, come on, this is funny: "Unleashed upon a vulnerable world, it forces governmental intelligence agencies back to analog technologies — paper, typewriters, vinyl, maybe wax cylinder? — which suggested to me that the Entity was in fact Wes Anderson."
posted by praemunire at 8:34 AM on July 21, 2023

Not as good as the last three, but even a "mid" Mission Impossible movie is very good. I feel like I would be mad about Ilsa if I truly believed she were dead, but they might be getting away with something here; I don't at all believe she is dead! And if it turns out I'm wrong in the second part, it'll probably be too late for me to get very upset.

I agree that Pom Klementieff grinning/snarling her way through Rome traffic was very fun.
posted by grandiloquiet at 2:33 PM on July 23, 2023 [1 favorite]

That was fun, if a bit draggy in places - some of the action bits were overly long, but it was apparent that they had the budget and the will to go nuts, so they did. I liked the introduction of Haley Atwell to the team, having a rookie along is fun.

The movie certainly indulged in callbacks to previous films- not just recurring characters, but things like a fight on top of a train, and what seems like the regular plot device of "We have to put the MacGuffin in play to get the baddies and hope we can get both them and the Macguffin back before it all goes sideways."

So I'm figuring that both Ilsa and Pom's character are both alive...I kept thinking that she wouldn't have betrayed Gabriel if he hadn't turned on her, but maybe that's the 11 dimensional chess the entity is playing - Gabriel stabs her so she saves Hunt and tells him where the key can be used, so that Gabriel can ambush him at the submarine. As for Gabriel, I don't think he wants the key to control the entity but to keep it safe and not under anyone's control.
posted by nubs at 5:27 PM on August 1, 2023

Finally saw this - it was ludicrous and way too long (did we really need two car chase scenes, two train top fights, two parachutes?) but a lot of fun.

Am I the only one who heard the line “call me Grace,” and assumed that that wasn’t actually her name, then spent the rest of the movie waiting for the reveal of what her actual name was, and feeling weird the more times people called her Grace because I was still waiting for that shoe to drop?
posted by Mchelly at 12:53 PM on August 13, 2023

Another thing I realized as I was describing the movie to a friend - the ending train scene felt like McQ / Cruise wanted their own shot at making the climax of Titanic. Here’s the dining room, here’s the grand salon with the piano, here are the kitchens on fire at a 90 degree tilt… only what if there’s more action!
posted by Mchelly at 6:14 AM on August 14, 2023

My SO talks in her sleep sometimes. The night after we saw this she said in the middle of the night, "It didn't feel like a real movie, did it?"

This felt like a mediocre version of an M:I movie to me.

I think it goes deeper than the janky pacing and into underdeveloped material.

There's a lot of lifeless exposition. The dialogue is kinda bad in general. Rhames and Pegg had no spark at all. I'm confused by Gracie's character and I felt like I was going "why?" a lot when anything would happen with her, just arbitrary importance to no purpose. TBH I don't think Atwell carried the part really and probably wasn't well cast.

The whole plot, with a literal two-part key, with "I must kill a woman close to you muahhuaha" kind of villain plotting... oof. Big stuff and little stuff was not great. The train setup... Oops the mask machine broke! And you missed a train why did you cut it that close. Maybe you can catch the train by going down the tracks instead of being like welp it could be anywhere now. The train is runaway AND they have to blow up the bridge? Ok Gabriel you rigged the dead guy up to the whistle, uh, good for you, it's important to have fun. Is Kitteredge the dumbest mfer in the whole fucking world how is super mega thief Gracie so goddamn bad at subterfuge. There's a fractally bad aspect to this movie and if you start burrowing in you could pop out in Albuquerque.

Some of the action set pieces are okay! Cute stuff in the car chase! The expressions on Paris's face are winning; her character seems to know what movie this should be. I've played Uncharted 2 so I'm not easily impressed by dangling train carriages, but they did a good job. I liked the kitchen car peril I was laughing and going YES HAHA during that part. Maybe didn't have to use every single thing in the "train ideas" folder, but I guess we're doing quantity time. I'll follow suit and make my comments here just as much like a jumbled up junk drawer. The way the other passengers on the train fade in and out of existence is amusing.

I think, at last, finally, Cruise just looks officially too old for this shit. The main trio is just.. all too old. They're not doing any of that "we're too old" plot or character stuff or anything either, though! The opposite; the new stuff is bad and doomed. Gotta go back to the old ways. Where there's only a little bit of magic digital spoofing and truth-bending skullduggery and Ethan's buddies are at the cutting edge of it doing it just constantly all the time this is the whole thing they do.

Felt kinda a rough draft type thing. Like, okay good start, now clean up the stupid parts, write some better dialogue, and uh merge Gracie and Ilsa perhaps, and maybe don't summon this image of endless chain of hot-swappable women getting refrigerator'd on the laughable altar of Ethan's character. Why not kill Pegg, he was right there and ripe for it.

I know it's just M:I. I don't expect much, but I guess I do expect it to be better polished.
posted by fleacircus at 6:36 PM on December 8, 2023

I got about halfway into the “but what if the entity knows that we know that the entity knows that we know that the entity knows…” friendship scene and turned it off. Stage 4 Tom Clancy is better written than this dreck.
posted by hototogisu at 9:36 PM on April 3

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