Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One Spoiler Review

If I had done an article about my most anticipated films coming in 2023 then Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One would have been high on the list. The Mission Impossible (MI) franchise has been really strong with the exception of the 2nd film. While I enjoyed the first film, I thought the 3rd film was more to my liking, and with each new film the bar keeps being raised. Tom Cruise will likely go down as possibly the biggest movie star of all time, and to me it isn't really that close.  Dead Reckoning Part One is on par with the last four films in the franchise, and while I need to see it more before I can be comfortable ranking it, it is near the top of the list for sure. The series has always managed to make the antagonists interesting, but in this film, I really like what they did. Making the villain an Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) I think they picked the perfect time to use this villain. The use of A.I. as a villain is decades old, and for me it was introduced as a threat in The Terminator (1984), it is a villain that has always felt like a possibility and current times only enhance those fears. The A.I. has a hum avatar to be a threat in Gabriel (played by Esai Morales) and tying Gabriel to Ethan's past makes for an interesting story for us to learn in Part Two. Gabriel has an accomplice named Paris (played by Pom Klementieff) who was a lot of fun whenever she was on screen. 

Ethan had some help with Luther (played again by Ving Rhames), Benji (played again by Simon Pegg), Ilsa (played again by Rebecca Ferguson) and newcomer Grace (played by Haley Atwell). Grace is dragged into the conflict, and much like Ilsa in Rogue Nation we are not sure if we can trust her. We also have a returning Kittridge (played again by Henry Czerny), the White Widow (played again by Vanessa Kirby) and newcomers Briggs (played by Shea Whigham) and Degas (played by Greg Tarzan Davis). The long run time of 2 hours and 43 minutes flies by as we get sucked into the action, While Dead Reckoning Part One might have less humor, but there are still some funny moments at just the right times. The tension of the film is palpable as we feel that any member of the team is at risk of not making it out of the film alive. There are a lot of callbacks to the first film in this one, and I appreciate the attention to detail that writer/director Christopher McQuarrie has put into the film. The paranoia permeates almost every scene of the film, as you never know if a character will die or if what is happening is exactly what the A.I. expects/wants to happen. The finale set peice on the train was great as it was both incredible, but also felt like a nod to the first film's finale. 


The film opens on a state-of-the-art Russian submarine running a top-secret mission to show that their new navigation system could make them invisible to detection. The Russian sub crew detects an American sub near them and look to avoid contact, but the American sub knows they are there. The American sub then fires a torpedo which the Russians answer with a torpedo of their own. Before the American torpedo hits it disappears from their radar and before their torpedo hits the American sub disappears too. The sub commander realizes that the navigation system is not working orders the torpedo they fired to stop it continues, but now it is coming back towards them. The torpedo hits which causes the submarine to sink to the bottom killing the entire crew. We go to Ethan (Tom Cruise) who gets a mission that requires him to locate Ilsa who has taken possession of one half of the key we saw the Russian sub commander use to access the navigation system. Ethan is tasked with getting the key back, but Ilsa has a bounty on her head for taking the key. Ethan locates Ilsa by following the bounty hunters after her, after he and Ilsa kills the bounty hunters Ethan tells her to run and stay dead. 

There is a briefing being held by top members of American intelligence community where they discuss the Entity which is a rogue A.I. program attacking intelligence agencies around the world. The meeting is being led by Denlinger (played by Cary Elwes) and Kittridge is also there. A man arrives late to the meeting, and he hands Kittridge a package containing a gas mask before the man causes the room to fill with a green gas. The man pulls off a mask revealing himself to be Ethan, so he can confront Kittridge about placing the bounty on Ilsa. Ethan admits to having the key, but he says he plans on destroying the Entity rather than let any nation take control of it. Ethan meets up with Benji and Luther at the Abu Dhabi airport where they try to locate the holder of the second key. In the airport Ethan locates the holder of the second key while Luther and Benji keep the American agents out to arrest Ethan busy. The agents are led by Briggs and Degas who eventually figure out they are being tricked so they split the team into smaller groups to try and find Ethan. The key is pickpocketed by Grace, but Ethan realizes what she did, and he tails her stealing the key back. Ethan then offers Grace an opportunity for gain by encouraging her to put the key back into the pocket of the man she took it from. Gabriel is in the airport too, and he places a bag in the check in which alerts Luther and Benji of a possible safety alert. Paris is also in the airport, and she confronts the man who had the key on him before Grace stole it. When Grace goes to put back the key, she finds the man dead, but before they can figure out anything Ethan finds out that there might be a nuclear bomb in the airport that Benji is trying to disarm. While Ethan is distracted with the bomb, Grace takes the key back from Ethan. Benji is able to disarm the bomb, but there is no bomb as it was an empty device meant to distract the team. Ethan spots Gabriel who he recognizes from his past before the IMF, but before he can be sure Gabriel is gone. 

Ethan tells the team that the mission is over, and while he follows Grace to Rome his team follows him there. Ethan has Grace arrested at the airport, and while she is in the police precinct there is also Ethan, Degas, Briggs and Gabriel are there too. Ethan poses as Grace's lawyer to break her out, but Grace leaves Ethan and steals a police car to make her escape. Ethan then steals a police motorcycle to chase Grace, Paris chases after them with Briggs and Degas in last place. Grace struggles to drive and is eventually cornered by Paris, but Ethan rescues her and then handcuffs himself to her so she can't escape. They eventually avoid everyone chasing them, but Grace escapes the handcuffs while cuffing Ethan to the steering wheel. Ethan gets free, but has lost Grace again, but his team (now with Ilsa in tow) picks Ethan up. Ethan learned where Grace was going to meet the buyer, so Ethan and Ilsa go to the party where he finds Alanna (the White Widow) is the buyer. Gabriel is there too, and he tells Alanna that she must not give Ethan the key or else she will die, Gabriel is an agent for the Entity, and he says he knows how it will all play out. Gabriel tells Ethan that either Ilsa or Grace will be killed before Gabriel leaves. Grace then leaves with the key, but Alanna's men prevent Ethan from following Grace. Ethan tells Ilsa to run away as fast as she can, and Ethan escapes after jumping over the railing to the floor below. Ethan has Luther and Benji directing him to Grace, but the Entity has hijacked the com system leading Ethan to a trap. When the Entity reveals itself to Ethan it is to late as Ethan will need to fight off Paris and a henchmen but the Entity tells Ilsa that she can save Grace from Gabriel. 

While Ethan fights off Paris and spares her life, Grace tries and fails to stop Gabriel, but Ilsa saves her. As Ethan runs to the bridge Ilsa fights Gabriel, but he wins and stabs her in the heart killing her. Ethan arrives and holds Ilsa in his arms before Benji arrives via a boat to bring them back to the safehouse. Grace feels responsible for Ilsa's death so she will help them get the other key. Allana is meeting a buyer for the keys on the Orient Express train, so Ethan plans for Grace to pretend to be Alanna. Ethan will arrive on the train by jumping on it, and Luther leaves to try and find a way to stop the Entity. The Entity also has a plan to disrupt Ethan by sneaking Gabriel and Paris onto the train and have them speed up the train while disabling the brakes. The plan works as Ethan misses the train at the jump-on point so Benji redirects him to the top of a mountain where he will base jump onto the train. Grace manages to knockout Alanna and take her place for the meeting with the buyer. The buyer is Kittridge who wants America to possess the Entity. Grace gets both keys from Kittridge when he is not looking, but the real Alanna arrives. Grace is attacked, but Ethan smashes through the train window taking out her attackers. Gabriel and Paris make a visit to Denlinger who is also on the train, it is there where it is revealed the Entity was placed in the Russian sub by America. Gabriel reveals he knows where the sub is before slashing Denlinger's throat. Gabriel then turns on Paris saying that because Ethan spared her life she will betray Gabriel, but all he can do is stab her before he escapes. 

Gabriel grabs the key after Ethan arrives, so Ethan chases him while Grace attempts to stop the train. Ethan fights Gabriel on the roof of the train, and Ethan gets Gabriel, but since Gabriel is the only person who knows where the location of the Entity is he has to let him live. Degas and Briggs are there, and while Ethan is distracted with them Gabriel jumps off the train at the planned place. Ethan then convinces Briggs and Degas to evacuate the train while Ethan goes to check on Grace. When they realize they can't stop the train they make their way to the next car to detach the engine from the rest of the train. Ethan tells Grace that while fighting Gabriel he stole the keys back from him, but Gabriel had one more surprise for them as the bridge ahead blows up. As Grace and Ethan make their way car-to-car to keep from falling off the bridge they are saved by a hurt Paris who has betrayed Gabriel. Paris reveals that the keys belong to the Russian sub before she passes out, and Ethan escapes telling Grace to turn herself into Kittridge. Ethan tells Grace that she can join the IMF to get a second chance and that Kittridge would agree since she has special skills. As Ethan makes his way to Benji, Grace turns herself into Kittridge saying she will join the IMF as the film ends. 


I have seen the movie twice, and I am still finding it hard to know where I would rank this film in the series. After MI3 I felt the series was on the right path, there was new breathed into the series and the series has been on an upward trajectory since that point. Dead Reckoning Part One is fantastic, but it is also hard to judge since it not a complete story. The action in the film was incredible, but it did not reach high bars set by MI5 or MI6, but it was still better than most films. The plot was good, and I liked the choice of A.I. being a villain, but I was also impressed with Esai Morales as Gabriel. I find that the only fault I find in the film is that it was not as good as Fallout or Rogue Nation. Despite the long running time I never once felt my attention wander from the screen. I am still trying to wrap my mind around what will happen in Part Two, and I hope the current strikes don't push the film out of 2024. I assume the entire cast will be back with the exception of Ilsa who unfortunately was killed off. While I hated the choice to kill Ilsa, and it was obvious from the start of the film that she would likely be the one who did not make it out of the film alive. Ilsa was like a female Ethan, but for some reason they felt like she did not belong. While I did like Grace, and while I think Hayley Atwell was great in the role, I will miss Ilsa. I am not sure the right decision was to kill Ilsa, I like Benji and Luther, but their deaths would have had the same impact if not more. The reason they chose to kill Ilsa seemed to be so that Grace could take her place on the team, and if that is the case that sucks, and the decision doesn't serve the story.

As I said earlier it was tough coming up with a ranking of the film series, Dead Reckoning Part One was incredible and it was hard to put it third on the list. The top two films on this list are 10/10 films that I can find little or no fault in, they are films I revisit often. The last film on the list is easy for me because over the years the only film in the series that does not fit at all is MI2. I know John Woo has done some great films, but for me his gunfu style does not work, and now films like Face/Off feel like a slog to sit through. The first film in the series has the least comedy and has a stronger spy/thriller tone to it. I like the first film, but the life breathed into the series in the third film make the first film feel a little dull. MI3 was where the series started for me, there was something fresh to it and Philip Seymour Hoffman was an amazing villain. Ghost Protocol at 4 on the list feels wrong for me, but the top three films all deserve their spots. The quality of the films has gone up, and despite his age Tom Cruise finds new ways to make us stare in awe at the stuff he is willing to do. The top five films on the list are all excellent films (at least 8/10), and they have become my go to films to revisit supplanting the Fast and the Furious films.

I am going to give Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One a 9/10 as it was a fantastic film. I think if Fallout and Rogue Nation were 10/10 films than I cannot justify giving Dead Reckoning Part One a 10 if I think it is not as good as the previous two films. The action moments in Fallout were incredible, and I am not sure if any film will ever be able to do what Fallout did. Rogue Nation made Rebecca Ferguson a star, and it also had some truly amazing moments. Dead Reckoning had some great moments, but the tone of the film made it great for me, the action was not the standout. The cast was all great, but the standout for me was Esai Morales who was unsettling as Gabriel, and I am curious how he and Ethan's past will play into things. The tease of Ethan's past was interesting as it was the first time since the first film that his pre-IMF life was mentioned. There were rumours that the opening scene of the film was going to feature a de-aged Tom Cruise, so I assume this was his initial encounter with Gabriel. I know the second film will explore that story, but I kind of wish we learned it at the end of the film. I could see an end where we see that flashback and it ends on a shocking note that sets up the second film. I think there were reports that Chris McQuarrie did not want to end the film on a cliffhanger. My only faults in the film were that the action was not as good as Fallout, and that I did not see a story purpose for Ilsa to die other than to replace her with Grace. I think Dead Reckoning Part One is amazing and it will be a film that anyone can enjoy, I highly recommend it.

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