17 July 2023

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning is polished, professional and packed with thrills

| Marcus Kelson
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still from Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning

Don’t panic, anyone. Tom Cruise has it all under control in Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning. Photo: Supplied.

Even since movies began, film-makers have grappled with the idea of artificial intelligence and the idea that man has made robots in his own image.

It began with Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, and ever since has been a subject of fascination as writers and filmmakers break away from the science to explore the darker, more malevolent side of what happens when computers start thinking for themselves. Think 2001 – A Space Odyssey, Terminator, Matrix and more.

In Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (part two comes out next year) Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) agrees to take on the task of retrieving half of a mystery key from his friend and ally of previous films, Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson).

After retrieving it and returning to the US, he enters a meeting of top intelligence chiefs, from whom we discover this key, coupled with its partner, can unlock a network (or computer that houses the network) that was designed to sabotage digital systems.

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The problem is the programme has gone rogue and has started thinking for itself, and is now called the Entity. Whoever has both keys and can unlock the source of where the Entity actually exists is promised virtual world domination.

Needless to say, there is a race against the clock as parties from various intelligence agencies and other players vie to unite both keys.

Ethan wants to destroy the Entity but in seeking out the other half of the key unwittingly encounters a thief, Grace (Hayley Atwell), who steals his from him at Abu Dhabi Airport. Grace has been hired by Allana (Vanessa Kirby), an arms dealer, who possesses the other half.

Kirby, who starred as a young Princess Margaret in The Crown, is simply wonderful. Shea Wigham, (Boardwalk Empire) tones down his usual psychopathic performance as a dogged agent and adds a certain weight to proceedings, and there are a number of ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ walk-on parts for stars who I think just wanted to be in the film.

Tom Cruise eats up the screen in his seventh outing for the franchise, with an air of enigmatic casualness that quickly turns to fear and grief when he realises his line of work often leads to death.

Being Cruise, his obsession is palpable and he is still apparently doing most of his stunts. I don’t think you’d call it method acting but there is an immersion, commitment and genuine zeal to his work you don’t see in a lot of places where action thrillers are concerned.

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In the scheme of things, this Mission Impossible film has to deal with the great unknown of what AI is capable of and no one really knows, other than wanting to harness its power and devising ways to exploit it.

This is the great open-ended question that leaves us waiting for part two of the film, which arrives next year.

But on your cinema screens now and as written by Christopher McQuarrie, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning is as tightly wound and more explosive than any of its predecessors.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning scores four out of five stars.

Marcus Kelson is a Canberra writer and critic. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning is screening at major cinema chains.

Original Article published by Marcus Kelson on Riotact.

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