“Mission Dead Reckoning: Tom Cruise, Unprecedented challenge, unstoppable determination. Confronting God, self-discovery, and the power of belief. A breathtaking adventure that changes everything.”
Tom Cruise, the self-proclaimed crusader of cinema, defies the norm by shunning retirement roles for grand-scale moviemaking. Instead of settling for stuffy suits, he remains dedicated to reviving the magic of the big screen. Unyielding in his pursuit, Cruise’s devotion to the moviegoing experience is unrivaled. Even amid a pandemic’s peak, Cruise embarks on a cinematic pilgrimage, documenting his journey to watch Christopher Nolan’s Tenet on IMAX. Masked and with a touch of romance, he declares, “Ahh, back to the movies.” Now, with the forthcoming Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One, Cruise’s marketing brilliance takes a surprising turn. Rather than showcasing his daring bike jump, a short clip steals the spotlight. In this snippet, he playfully raves about the simple pleasure of popcorn, evoking nostalgia and excitement for his new spectacle. In a world where actors might slow down, Cruise soars higher, reminding us that the magic of the silver screen remains timeless and worth savoring.
Cruise’s mild alien quality is undeniably a charming aspect of his persona, and as the years pass, his lone-wolf spirit becomes more pronounced. In the Mission: Impossible franchise, the villains have often been forgettable, overshadowed by the ever-present threat of death itself. However, this trend reaches absurd heights when it becomes a valid conundrum: who could possibly serve as a worthy adversary to someone who believes himself to be infallible?
Following Mission: Impossible III’s Oven Davian portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman and foregoing a villain altogether in Top Gun: Maverick, Cruise seems to have found the answer. In the forthcoming Dead Reckoning Part One, he dares to confront the ultimate opponent – God Himself. This audacious move promises to be his most extraordinary challenge yet.
In Dead Reckoning Part One, it appears that Tom Cruise has indeed met his match, making for a frustrating movie experience. Unlike the adrenaline-pumping Mission: Impossible — Fallout, where each set piece outdid the last, Dead Reckoning Part One surprisingly lacks action. Director Christopher McQuarrie draws heavily from the franchise’s very first installment, Mission: Impossible (1996), with overt references and a similar sense of complexity.
In this latest chapter, the movie insists on a convoluted plot, demanding the audience’s full attention. Unlike other Mission: Impossible films that prioritize spectacle over intricate narratives, Dead Reckoning Part One challenges viewers to keep up with its intricacies. This shift in approach might leave some fans longing for the high-octane thrills that have come to define the franchise.
In Dead Reckoning Part One, numerous conversation scenes focus on explaining the plot’s progress, immediate objectives, and the whereabouts of the extensive ensemble of characters. Simon Pegg’s character, seemingly tasked with delivering exposition, works tirelessly to catch the audience up on developments. This heavy emphasis on explanation detracts from the overall viewing experience, despite Christopher McQuarrie’s evident fondness for quirky ’90s thrillers.
However, amidst the convoluted narrative, Cruise and McQuarrie deviate from the traditional formula of introducing a brooding Russian or a cold British spy as the antagonist. Instead, they present a contemporary adversary ripped straight from current headlines – an AI entity simply known as “The Entity.”
This unexpected twist adds a fresh layer of intrigue to the film, setting the stage for a high-stakes clash between humanity and the ever-evolving technology that threatens to engulf them. Dead Reckoning Part One ventures into uncharted territory, leaving the audience with a sense of unease as they grapple with the implications of this formidable AI villain.
In Dead Reckoning Part One, The Entity, resembling a Windows ’98 screensaver, manifests on Earth as Gabriel, a sophisticated, middle-aged man portrayed by Esai Morales. This character draws inspiration from the Archangel Gabriel, known in Abrahamic texts as God’s emissary, tasked with delivering divine messages to humanity. Gabriel repeatedly insists that the fate of the people has been “written.” However, Ethan Hunt, a man defined by his chosen missions, refuses to accept a predestined course of existence.
Amidst a conversation in a Venice club, Gabriel forewarns Ethan that the lives of Ilsa Faust and a newcomer named Grace are in jeopardy, with one of them destined to die that night. In this pivotal moment, the film sheds its serious facade, embracing its inherent goofiness with comically exaggerated Dutch angles reminiscent of the franchise’s debut by Brian De Palma. Unfazed, Ethan faces Gabriel, denouncing him as a “fanatic” and making an unwavering vow to protect his allies, challenging fate itself.
The MacGuffin driving the narrative is a Christian cross-shaped key, pursued by Ethan, Gabriel, and other characters throughout the movie. This quest mirrors Indiana Jones’ legendary search for the Holy Grail in the Last Crusade. The film delves into themes of free will versus fate, entwined with Cruise’s character’s savior complex. It leaves audiences pondering the possibility of Ethan making the ultimate sacrifice in Dead Reckoning Part Two, akin to Jesus, who willingly suffered for humanity’s sins. Ethan’s journey is akin to that of a messianic figure, with loyal followers, betrayals, and a sense of divine purpose, setting the stage for a compelling face-off between two mortals, each believing themselves to be messiahs serving dueling deities.
Despite its evident flaws, it’s challenging to complain about the film’s exposition when witnessing Tom Cruise’s unwavering dedication to his craft. Even at an age where he qualifies for schemes like Arvind Kejriwal’s Mukyamantri Tirath Yatra, Cruise’s commitment to the role remains undeniable. You might even overlook the massive ego that potentially fueled his demand for $300 million from a Hollywood studio to fund what some perceive as a Scientology-driven criticism of another organized religion.
A less convoluted movie could have explored the notion that human beings, as the creators of AI, are the root of the problem rather than the other way around. Despite this missed opportunity, there’s hope that Dead Reckoning Part Two will delve deeper into the philosophical ideas that clearly fascinate McQuarrie and Cruise.
As the story unfolds, it will be intriguing to see if the film fully engages with these philosophical themes, potentially leading to a more thought-provoking and resonant conclusion. Cruise’s passion for the project and McQuarrie’s fascination with profound ideas suggest that the sequel may bring the much-desired depth and contemplation to the narrative, elevating the franchise beyond its current limitations.