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  • Jeff Beck

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning, Part One: A Solid, Action-Packed Entry (Blu-ray)


The Film:


Over the past 27 years, we've seen Impossible Missions Force Agent Ethan Hunt go through a hell of a lot. From hunting moles to stopping terrorists, he and his team have gone up against a vast array of formidable opponents, but now, on the onset of what is perported to be the final mission in the beloved "Mission: Impossible" series, the IMF team will have to do battle with the most dangerous adversary they've ever faced, one that is certain to put every one of their remarkable skills to the test.


"Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning, Part One" begins aboard a Russian submarine that uses an advanced AI system, controlled by a key made of two pieces. When the AI tricks them into firing on a target, the torpedo shockingly ends up destroying them instead. We then segue to find Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) in the Arabian Desert, where he is attempting to locate Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), a former MI6 agent who has a piece of the key. To make matters more complicated, Ilsa also happens to have a bounty on her head, ultimately forcing him to fake her death before retrieving the key piece and heading for DC.


There, Ethan manages to infiltrate a briefing with Intelligence Directors Denlinger (Cary Elwes) and Kittridge (Henry Czerny), where he learns about the AI, an Entity that has somehow achieved sentience and can manipulate intelligence, defense, and financial networks around the world. With world powers vying for the key and potential control of the Entity, Ethan and his usual crew find themselves in a race to gain possession of it first.


As mentioned, we've been watching Ethan and his team take down devious villains for nearly three decades now, all within highly-entertaining films that have incorporated some of the most stunning action sequences of the genre, while also providing an adequately firm narrative foundation to keep us caring about these characters as they go on their globe-trotting adventures. As we come to the first part of what is supposedly their final outing, one can only wonder how director/co-writer Christopher McQuarrie and series star Tom Cruise will be able to top what's come before in order to truly send this massive franchise out with a bang.


As far as this latest entry goes, it's a pretty solid entry to the series. However, the drawback here that stops it from being quite as good as the last few entries is the somewhat weaker storyline. It's a fascinating idea to face off with an AI capable of taking over and altering a country's vital infrastructures, on top of being an adversary that can easily deceive those looking to attempt to stop it, but the idea ends up being a somewhat clunky one in execution, especially with their unfortunate tendency to over-explain and over-emphasize it throughout the film. That said, it still works just fine as a foundation to build on, it's just not as strong as plots we've previously seen in the franchise.


To be fair, the plot is not exactly the reason a lot of people go to see these movies. They go to see what absolutely insane stunts Cruise et al. are going to pull off to thrill the audience, and in that department, this entry easily lives up to expectations. In this epic film alone, we have action sequences that include an impressive fight in a very confined alley, an insane car chase through the streets of Rome, and a stunning climax aboard a train that will take your breath away. Indeed, it may be cliched to say, but the film is certainly action-packed, and will easily sate any action junkie looking for a fair amount of thrills.


Overall, it balances out to a fun & exciting outing, one that adequately sets the stage for what is sure to be an off-the-walls finale that will no doubt attempt to outdo what we saw here (though how they could go bigger & bolder than that train climax would be anyone's guess). It may not have the strongest storyline of the lot, but it serves it well enough, giving you all the thrills

we've come to expect from the series, and more-than-sufficiently whetting your appetite for the highly-anticipated conclusion.


Video/Audio:


"Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning, Part One" comes to Blu-ray in a 2.39:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of excellent quality. The image is beautifully sharp & clear throughout its lengthy 164-minute runtime, highlighting the film's gorgeous shooting locations and stupendous stunts. Likewise, the Dolby Atmos audio track is marvelous, giving you all of the dialogue, sound effects, and score in outstanding quality. Overall, the film simply looks & sounds great for its physical home debut.


Special Features:


Commentary by director Christopher McQuarrie and editor Eddie Hamilton

Abu Dhabi (4 Minutes)

Rome (4 Minutes)

Venice (4 Minutes)

Freefall (9 Minutes)

Speed Flying (4 Minutes)

Train (6 Minutes)


This is a fantastic collection of featurettes (and an informative commentary from the director & editor) that delve into the making of the film, exploring areas such as the filming locations, the cast's training, and the incredible stunts.


Conclusion:


"Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning, Part One" may not have one of the stronger storylines of the series, but it serves it well enough as a firm foundation on which to build its remarkably impressive action sequences, which continue to deliver the grand thrills that we've come to expect, ultimately resulting in another solid entry from this exciting & long-running franchise.


Score: 3.5/5


Available on Blu-ray starting tomorrow.


Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.



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