I don’t know how many of the MI films I’ve reviewed – I would imagine three or four of them now. It's not the destination, it's the journey.
These Cruise-led adventures of Ethan Hunt started a generation ago in the mid 90s and have outlasted Jason Bourne, and Liam Neeson's late era turn as an action/espionage star. Ethan Hunt and this incarnation of him joins the ranks of Bond, Dr. Jones, and a few other higher echelon series.
This is the most espionage and less bombastic action set pieces of the series – and is a great instalment. Almost an antidote to the high octane of MI:Fallout. Here the set pieces are just as lean and tight – but more realistic and grounded this time around. Certainly this is the case for the first half where the film sits in a city scape setting for the vast majority.
Like Bond, each of these MI films has their own flavour – and while we are settled in on similar cast and directors behind the camera for the last few – the franchise is still as fresh as it gets.
There is no need to reinvent anything here – come up with a couple of technology-based puzzles and McGuffins that must be placed together - and away we go. We are not that far removed from the Brian DePalma and John Woo one and two instalments of the series.
People forget – the first film’s test audiences were the likes of Lucas and Spielberg, friends of DePalma and champion of then-youngster Tom Cruise. Oscar winning writer Robert Towne has written a script or two in the series. Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin both featured over the years as well.
Woo’s film took the action to the next level and makes one forget how by the numbers the first instalment really was. Where is the Emilio Estevez cameo just playing a mask of himself? This is where we are at.
Perhaps my only slight on the series as a whole is the lack of memorable baddie – or a real plot that makes that world domination balance. Sure there was Philip Seymour Hoffman – but after that one struggles to remember. Hank Cavill, Michael Nyqvist give memorable performances – but these plots often centre around Hunt ‘s personal life and less the “impossible” mission which is fine – one just wishes the writers could walk the line, thread the needle a bit tighter for the villains.
Here in Dead Reckoning there are a handful of sequences remarkably similar to Dial of Destiny, in production the same time and out within a couple weeks of each other.
Take the best of MI: Dead Reckoning, from Lost City last year, and Dial of Destiny and Uncharted – and you’ve got that balance you need in the strongest of action adventure films, I think.
Cruise wants to make these into his 80s like other 1980s action series actor Harrison Ford. He’s got 20 more years of these.
Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning runs this week in the Creek.