Despite Tom Cruise proving his value as a movie star and bringing audiences back to theaters is record numbers last year with the release of Top Gun: Maverick, the movie star’s latest Mission: Impossible film ran into countless issues preventing it from reaching the same level of success. First there was the disruption of Covid-19, which caused delays that greatly inflated the film’s budget, but an even bigger obstacle seems to have been the decision to release in theaters the week before a pair of films that became an undeniable cultural moment. This is unfortunate, because while Dead Reckoning Part One may not be the unmitigated success that the Top Gun sequel was, it is a fitting continuation of one of the most compelling action franchises to come out of Hollywood in the past few decades.
Although the Mission: Impossible franchise has consistently continued to release sequels, the latest release follows the trend being used by many reboots, bringing back cast members from the first film along with others that have been added in the various sequels. Following an incident aboard a Russian submarine equipped with an advanced AI program controlled by two interlocking keys, the intelligence community is desperate to obtain each half needed to wield the powerful weapon capable of manipulating all digital material. Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his team of IMF agents are tasked with retrieving the keys, though they are uncertain who they can trust even once they have them.
Hunt’s team includes technical field agent Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and computer technician Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), but they are also joined by disavowed MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson). During their first attempt at obtaining the keys and the location of the device they control, Hunt and his team clash with a thief named Grace (Hayley Atwell) who has also been hired to steal the keys. Grace is unaware that she has entered a world of espionage and powerful criminals who make her crimes seem petty by comparison, and must rely on Hunt and the IMF team to survive, potentially helping to save the world along the way.
While Hunt is pursued by US intelligence officer Jasper Briggs (Shea Whigham), the real threat to him and the team is a powerful terrorist and a fanatic named Gabriel (Esai Morales), who is following instructions given by the AI program. This is complicated even further by the fact that Gabriel played a role in Hunt’s past, causing the violent death of someone he once loved. There are so many moving parts in Dead Reckoning, it is not difficult to understand why the narrative was split into two films, the first of which alone is 163-minutes.
The 4K UHD release of Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One requires a second Blu-ray disc to contain over 30-minutes of special features. Additionally, there is a commentary track with director Christopher McQuarrie and editor Eddie Hamilton on the 4K disc, along with the film. The package also comes with a digital code to stream the film.
The special features disc contains seven succinctly titled featurettes. “Abu Dhabi” is centered on the exotic desert filming locations, in addition to the sequence set in the airport. “Rome” takes a behind-the-scenes look at the comedic and exciting car chase set in Italy’s iconic capital city. “Venice” not only covers the part of the film shot in the shadowy alleys and canals of the city, but also takes a look at the training needed to achieve the fight choreography in these sequences.
“Freefall” is an extended behind-the-scenes look at the motorcycle stunt in the film’s climax, which has been heralded as one of the biggest stunts in film history. “Speed Flying” more broadly discusses the aerial sport used by Cruise’s Hunt several times in the film, and “Train” looks at the practical effects used to accomplish the train crash at the end of the film. There is also a featurette with McQuarrie and Hamilton discussing the opening sequence, and a montage of deleted shots from the massive blockbuster.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10
Historical Significance: 7/10
Special Features: 7.5/10