Tom Cruise once more plays secret mission operative Ethan Hunt. His youthful good looks have now evolved into a more mature handsomeness and at 61 he is still doing his own breathtaking stunts. This time they include a thrilling and comic car chase, in which he and co-star Hayley Atwell share driving duties while handcuffed together; a breathtaking sky dive from a mountain top onto a high speed train, at which even Ethan blanches a bit when it Is proposed by sidekick Benji (Simon Pegg); and a high octane and very inventive sequence on the train itself.
The film also has a strong and complicated plot – you need to pay attention – involving the invention of an all powerful AI programme, which could destroy the world. So are those real life fears of AI justified? Whoever holds the key to The Entity, as it is called, will either rule and reshape the world or destroy it.
And key is the operative word here. As in the new Indiana Jones movie, this McGuffin, which is a literal ornate key, comes in two parts, which fit together. So naturally everyone is after them both. And it is up to the MI team to find them for America – though both we and the team have their doubts as to whether that is in itself a good idea.
There’s plenty of tension too, as in an airport scene where Benji is up against time defusing a bomb while the police and the villains searching for Ethan are frustrated by the fact that facial recognition is not a reliable tool.
As far as the team itself is concerned, apart from Ethan leading the action and the return of Pegg and Ving Rhames, who like Cruise has been with the MI movies from the beginning, the charismatic Rebecca Ferguson is back on board as Ilsa Faust, as is Henry Czerny as Eugene Kittridge and Vanessa Kirby as the unpredictable wild card White Widow. Lively new recruit Hayley Atwell plays light fingered super thief Grace and Esai Morales is the most obvious bad guy Gabriel. Though we’re not going to be quite clear until Part 2 just what is his connection to The Entity.
Another big plus of the film is the way the women are all right in the action – no sitting on the sidelines looking pouty like the Bond girls used to. All of those named so far have their fair share of derring do plus a fierce turn from Pom Klementieff as one of the MI team’s opponents. Just watch her in that car chase.
One last point, which action films often ignore and is a great relief when dealing with such a complicated story – they’ve got the sound balance just right on this one, mixing exciting music and effects with dialogue you can actually hear.
As a two parter Dead Reckoning Part One manages to give its audience a satisfying conclusion while leaving the way open for the next stage of the quest. Where is the lock which fits the key? That will presumably be revealed Dead Reckoning Part Two.