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Dead Reckoning

A Terrible Campy Spy Movie Masterpiece

I recently watched the newest installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise, Mission: Impossible-Dead Reckoning Part One (yes, that’s the full title). It was pretty awesome. 

I grew up with the Mission: Impossible series so call me biased, but I think this is the silliest and funniest one yet. 

Ethan Hunt is back again with his trademark American swagger and his two stale bread friends Benji and Luthor, mostly there to fill in his shadow. Also back are his numerous lady companions, none of whom are his girlfriends, but with all of whom he will share romantic chemistry and longing glances with throughout the movie. Tom Cruise may not be quite the spring chicken anymore, but according to these movies, his noncommittal semi-monogamous woman magnet powers are still unmatched.

Dead Reckoning begins with the introduction of its signature *very important item that everyone wants*: A pair of interlocking keys, the contents of which we do not yet know. These two Claire’s friendship pendants are being chased down by every world government, because of their connection to the movie’s big antagonist, “The Entity” (An unchecked and extremely powerful AI computer that has gone rogue and has the ability to infiltrate and manipulate any computer or system on earth.) The governments of the world, including the United States, want to harness the power of The Entity for themselves, effectively giving them ultimate control over all electronic devices across the entire planet (very bad).  

The human counterpart to this machine, and our other real antagonist, is a man named Gabriel. A thing to note, Gabriel, at least to my knowledge, does not make appearances in any of the previous Mission: Impossible movies. Ethan Hunt claims that he should be dead, an enemy of his from before his time in the IMF. Ethan tracks the keys on behalf of the US government, but after learning of the government’s intentions to use it, he goes rogue, heading off on his own to find them.

Ethan’s goal is to destroy the computer, to ensure it’s never used. Thus ensues this movie’s impossible mission: find both halves of the key, find Gabriel and grill him for info, and finally, destroy the entity, using whatever it is that the key unlocks. 

Ethan and the gang are faced with many a daring foe, treacherous terrain, and epic stuntage to reach their goal. 

Now the eagle-eyed of you may have noticed, this movie’s title ends with “part one.” That’s right, this movie, which is more than 2 and a half hours long, is ONLY THE BEGINNING. Dead Reckoning Part 2 is scheduled to release in 2025, and with Tom Cruise’s reputation of doing near inhuman amounts of work for his movies, I think we should take a moment to appreciate how far we’ve come. 

Mission: Impossible was originally a television series on CBS that ran from September 1966 to March 1973. The show was adapted into a movie in 1996, the very first Mission: Impossible movie. Since then, the series has seen 7 new installments, Dead Reckoning Part 1 and 2 being the most recent, and speculated to be the last. Compared to Dead Reckoning, Mission: Impossible 1 is fairly quaint, with a much more grounded setting and half as many daring stunts. Tom Cruise was still fresh into stardom, and the film itself revolved more around the human drama and deception prominent in spy content of the era, with far less stunts and much lower stakes. M:I1 is a far cry from the cliff jumping, skydiving, nuke defusing, strongman epic of Rogue Nation, Fallout, or Dead Reckoning, with the character-centric tone near the beginning of the series effectively dissolving with each new installment. One of the more unfortunate tone shifts for me, as the difference in format and story is starkly clear. 

Mission: Impossible has had a lot of catching up to do with Tom Cruise’s other films like Top Gun and Jerry Maguire, but thanks to its strong marketing has still remained relatively mainstream.

 I personally would not go as far as to say that Dead Reckoning is an especially good movie, but as someone who has long enjoyed this ridiculous franchise, there is a charm and a nostalgia that is evoked in me that can not be denied. I’m not usually one for hallmark romances or cheesy action flicks, but nitpicks aside, Dead Reckoning was a joyous brain-off movie experience, with plenty of substance to pull you in and keep you there. After a hellish production process that saw Tom Cruise jumping off multiple cliffs, motorcycling on steep terrain, learning how to operate a helicopter, all while acting and filming the rest of the movie, it’s fair to say the writing was not exactly their priority. It more than makes up for it however, with thrill, stakes, drama, and simple fun for anyone who watched. 

So, if you have the chance, go watch Mission: Impossible-Dead Reckoning Part One today!

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Marina Sasaki, Staff
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