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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Review: “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One”

Via ImDb

Art Critic Kyle Heise says Tom Cruise once again looks to save the film industry with “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One”


Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read this review of “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.”  

The last time we saw Tom Cruise on the big screen, he arguably saved movie theaters. After years of COVID-19 shutdowns and turmoil in the entertainment industry, “Top Gun: Maverick”’s extended stay rejuvenated theaters. When a movie stays in theaters for a long time, this greatly increases the revenue split in the theaters’ favor, exactly what “Top Gun: Maverick” did at the time when theaters were facing some of their most difficult times. 

Now, Cruise returns with the seventh movie in the “Mission: Impossible” franchise. Cruise most likely won’t get the same movie theater run this time around as movie fans have two of the most hyped movies in the last five years coming a week later in Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” and Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie.” Regardless, “Mission: Impossible” marks the next movie in a full-blown blockbuster summer. 

Spoilers ahead for “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One”
An artificial intelligence known as The Entity has begun infiltrating governments across the world. It cannot be controlled or stopped unless the user possesses a specific completed cruciform key that can be split into two halves. 
All governments, secret agencies and evil organizations want the key to control the most dangerous weapon in the world. Everyone is willing to make a deal for it. Rebecca Ferguson returns as Ilsa Faust, who has possession of one-half of the key and is being tracked by bounty hunters, as well as Ethan, portrayed by Cruise. 

Ethan acquires Ilsa’s half of the key and goes to the Abu Dhabi International Airport to make a deal for the other half. While there, Ethan runs into Grace, an experienced and talented thief, who steals the key from him. She escapes to Rome, and Ethan follows her, but he is troubled by a man from his past who appears at the airport. 
Grace escapes Rome and plans to visit a party in Venice held by the White Widow, an international broker known for facilitating illegal deals, who has the other half of the key. Ethan and his team, Grace, the White Widow and the man from Ethan’s past, known as Gabriel, meet for a deal. Gabriel is the spokesman for The Entity and wants the key himself. He believes that everything is planned by The Entity and that Ethan will fail his mission. A battle ensues and Ilsa is killed, but a meeting is set for a train heading to Innsbruck.  

A plan is hatched by Ethan to acquire the key. Grace goes undercover as the White Widow and foils a deal with the CIA to get the completed key. Gabriel follows his plan exactly and seemingly escapes with the completed key as the train crashes. Ethan foils him yet again as he maintains the key and escapes while Grace joins the Impossible Mission Force. 

The film is a part one and ends feeling complete, yet with a large set-up. The only way to kill The Entity is to access its original source code aboard the sunken Russian submarine Sevastopol. The audience already knows Ethan’s next impossible mission. This was a unique way to distinguish this film from the rest of the franchise. 

“Dead Reckoning” touches on themes often present in “Mission: Impossible” films. The concept of fate by preparation and luck is present throughout the franchise. Ethan is often questioned about his tactics; is he really the greatest agent alive or is he simply lucky? Ethan versus The Entity, and Gabriel, make an interesting battle of these opposing tactics. 

The Entity carefully calculates every possibility and uses artificial intelligence to know what someone will do. Ethan operates on his instincts and the irrational faith that he can accomplish his mission no matter what. What happens when these two opposing forces interact? Who will win when the outcome is supposedly decided before the battle even begins? 

“Dead Reckoning”  shows that fate is not decided through the most preparation, but through pure will. Ethan writes his own destiny, not according to any calculation, but by believing he will accomplish his mission no matter what. This ultimately defeats and fools, if only momentarily in this film, The Entity and Gabriel and sets up an epic showdown in the following part two. 

This film feels like a character study of Ethan Hunt. He isn’t battling purely an imposing force, but also the doubt placed in his tactics. How will Ethan Hunt react when his main skills of improvisation and unpredictability are taken away from him? How will he react when a machine knows exactly what he will do? 
This concept goes far beyond Mission: Impossible. In a current reality where artificial intelligence can create photos and write movie scripts, what are humans needed for? We are seeing this now with strikes from both the writer’s and actor’s unions. Hollywood studios are opting for storytelling in the most cheap and heartless way possible. If machines can do everything humans can, what distinguishes the two? The theme of “Dead Reckoning” is important right now. Machines can predict and accomplish anything, but they do not have the will to finish the mission. They do not have the heart that humans have. When the two opposing forces meet, who will win? Ethan Hunt gave us the answer. 

The “Mission: Impossible” franchise is one of the most iconic franchises of all time. These films have become massive in scope and feature some of the biggest stunts ever put on screen, but maintain their heart in the characters, especially Ethan Hunt. Seeing Tom Cruise full-on sprinting and hearing the words “your mission, should you choose to accept it” have become cathartic to me. 

I was once told that when I watch movies, they become my whole personality. That hurts, but how can you not feel like you can do anything after watching these films? They provide feelings of excitement and hope. Thank you, Tom Cruise, for these films and for making that deal with the devil so long ago to stay young. Keep making these movies forever — I’ll be in the theater every time.

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