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Review: Is “Mission:Impossible” Now Just a “Fast and Furious” Movie?

There are a handful of film franchises that most people would have bet heavily on to never make it past a third or maybe even second outing. The Fast and the Furious and Transformers to name a few. While the Mission Impossible films have always had a lot of clout on all fronts (even after the faltering start after the second film) no one would have been surprised if it just went away. But the adaptation of the popular, yet campy TV show is not one of the most popular modern day franchises, but one of the most well regarded. Can the beloved film series keep its good graces pumping with the first part of what may be its grand finale?

There’s a new threat bearing down on the world and this time the evil force pulling the strings isn’t a physical being. A hunt has begun to find two literal key pieces that when combined will grant the owner access to this powerful program that has grown into what is known as, The Entity. Ethan Hunt is tasked with retrieving one part of the key from one of his trusted colleagues. When things don’t go to plan (when do they ever?) Ethan and his team are thrown into the wildest, most dangerous battle they’ve ever fought.

While audiences worldwide have grown to be thrilled by Mission:Impossible films through a mix of thrilling espionage tales topped off with Tom Cruise’s insane stunts, the good will the series has built up is running out of steam. M:I Dead Reckoning Part 1 is too convoluted for its own good. From the very first minute, the plot points are tied up in knots of existential tech babbel it would send Doctor Who’s head spinning into oblivion. It’s trying to be overly complicated for no reason; as if throwing more garbled tech jargon and unnecessary character relationships into the fold would make people think the story is more important than it is. 

Photo by Christian Black/Christian Black - © 2023 Paramount Pictures.

Introducing War Games into the world of James Bond, Dead Reckoning tries to turn an already tired trope into something bigger, but never sticks the landing. There is a flesh and blood villain in the character of Gabriel (Esai Morales) an old adversary of Ethan’s who is being led by The Entity; the name of the terrifying A.I. threatening world domination. Even though it isn’t literally heading down this road, writer/director Christopher McQuarrie attempts to muddy the waters of ambiguity by making Gabriel himself seem like an advanced android that isn’t real. It’s not something they are actually trying to do, but since the film does all it can to be more confusing than it needs to be, the clarity of his abilities is another anchor holding the adventure down.

But I know what you’re thinking; audiences see the story of any M:I film the vehicle that drives the action. And sure, the train ride finale (and I can’t put my finger on it, but I know there is another film or TV show that has a very familiar last act; and no, I’m not talking about the first film) is a heart pumping crowd pleaser, the majority of the action leading up to it is somewhat boorish and slow. Lots of wide angle lenses attached to the sides of cars lead to more music video antics than solid action fist pumping. 

While the M:I franchise has always been a vehicle for out of the box plots highlighted with unfathomable stunt work, Dead Reckoning has flown too close to the Fast and Furious sun and singed its wings. Sure, the film’s production started long ago and before that of Fast X, but Fast X came out first. And when long, overdrawn car chases take place in the exact same Roman locations in an almost copy and paste manner, it just feels like a failure. The small semblance of real world atmosphere that M:I once had is hanging on by a thread and doesn’t seem like it can be wound back up.

All of this doesn’t make Dead Reckoning Part 1 a bad movie, but it’s still a flailing child left on the floor to fend for itself while mommy and daddy go to tell the neighbors how great their child is and hype up all the things they’ll do in the near future. Mission:Impossible Dead Reckoning Part 1 thinks it can coast on what its predecessors have done before, but the rest of the family was already out the door without leaving any advice on how to succeed. 

Photo by Christian Black/Christian Black - © 2023 Paramount Pictures.

Final Grade: C+

Check out more of Matthew’s articles.

Here’s the trailer of the film.

Matthew Schuchman
Matthew Schuchman
In the early 90s, while at the video store with his friends who wanted to rent Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead, Matthew asked the clerk if they had any copies of Naked Lunch available. A film buff from an early age, he would turn his fascination into his own review site in 2010; Movie Review from Gene Shalit’s Moustache. From there, he provided his voice to such publications as Den of Geek, Coming Soon, and Verbicide magazine as a film reviewer and talent interviewer.


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