Pages Navigation Menu

"No matter where you go, there you are."


Review – Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning: Part 1: is… Dead Boring

When, without requesting it, a person is given the moniker ‘Saviour of Cinema’, there’s only one direction their reputation can head, and that’s down. Making a film is hard work and few people work harder than Thomas Mapother IV to deliver what he believes his audience wants. As a fellow filmmaker as well as reviewer, there’s no pleasure gained in putting the criticise into critique, but in the spirit of (subjective) honesty, here goes.

Dead Reckoning: Part 1 felt overlong as it drowned in exposition. It was strangely emotionless and at times, tedious. It is not a patch on its predecessor, with or without Henry Cavill’s moustache. The film also shares a striking similarity in plot to Fast X, but has such self-seriousness that the cast forgot to have a good time. It really is so very long. Why isn’t this film as good as Fallout? Maybe because Ethan Hunt used to be the lead of the franchise, and he’s been usurped by another cinematic figure: Tom Cruise.

Let’s discuss the plot. Dead Reckoning plays on our current fears about the power of a vengeful AI. It begins in a Russian submarine. Director Christopher McQuarrie also borrows a linguistic device from The Hunt for Red October – starting with Russian speech then quickly moving to all characters speaking English. The crew manage more than the average payload, they’re harbouring HAL’s 2023 upgrade, a seemingly perfect predictive AI entity which, if put in the wrong hands (meaning, human hands), could destroy the world. But events transpire so that the submarine and the two-part cruciform key that together unlocks the AI’s capabilities, sink. Cut to later, and Hunt’s IMF (which has dwindled to Hunt, Ving Rhames‘ Luther and Simon Pegg‘s Benji) are tasked with uncovering both parts of the key, although only the audience knows that it unlocks something weird on a submarine. One key has already been found, by Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), no less. And there are lots of interested parties trying to get their hands on both keys, like every government on the planet, some elite cops (led by Jasper, Shea Whigham), one group of proverbial bad guys (led by the mysterious Gabriel, played by Esai Morales) and another group, led by the returning White Widow (Vanessa Kirby). As if that wasn’t enough cast members to keep track of, Hayley Atwell‘s Grace, a master-thief, lands herself right in the mix. Mayhem ensues as the key falls between the groups with chases through Roman streets, Abu Dhabi airports and aboard the Orient Express. And because this is only part 1, events are still not resolved 2 hours and 43 minutes later.

Shea Whigham and Greg Tarzan Davis in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.

Big drama happens in this film and when pivotal events occur they’re strangely unmoving. This is partly because the film is weighed down with so much expositional dialogue that it could honestly do with having more stunts! And with so many characters to follow, why aren’t any of them worth rooting for? At one point, the film tries to direct attention to how singular Ethan Hunt’s morals are, but if the rest of the world is already so corrupt and Hunt is basically a ghost who regularly murders people, is this the best hope we have? How depressing.

Although it isn’t anywhere near as exciting as it thinks it is, there are two stand-out performances in Dead Reckoning. One is Pom Klementieff‘s Paris, a superior yet strangely mute henchwoman who chases after Hunt with much-needed panache.  She’s scary, deviant and stylish in a way nobody else is in this film. Dead Reckoning so desperately wants to perform feminism that every female character (bar Paris) wear a three-piece suit…in every scene! Even Hunt gets to changes clothes! The other nice performance comes from Greg Tarzan Davis as Jasper’s sidekick Degas. Multi-lingual with a cool head and thrillingly, an actual moral compass, hopefully he’ll have plenty to do in part 2. The film fails Atwell, whose role becomes increasingly important while the character remains confused. But the worst crime committed by this film? The stunts are boring. The trailer has already telegraphed one of them. The other is better, but taken directly from the video game Uncharted 2 and in both cases the stakes have never been lower.

If you have three hours to kill and love the trademark Mission Impossible dutch angle shots, Dead Reckoning will not disappoint, but perhaps the saviour of cinema should head back to the drawing board. One good thing about this franchise is that the dead don’t need to stay dead, maybe Henry Cavill is still available?

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One opens in the UK on 10th July 2023.

Previous PostNext Post



  1. Pom Klementieff wasn’t mute, she was French. Are you sure you saw this movie?

    • Hi I wrote the piece. “Mute” refers to the fact that she has virtually no lines, it is not a nationality. I believe that she did say “Adieu” which is a French word. You have to admit that naming a character Paris is a little on the nose. I’m from the UK but my name isn’t London.

  2. I like your review. It was honest, which I agreed with on all fronts. I was bored shitless through this film.

    • Cheers

    • Ditto.

      Thanks for the review, Sarah. Saw this on Monday and posting my review tomorrow… I’m gutted by how disappointing it was and mystified that it’s still well over 90% on RT.

      Plus – SPOILERS – fridging female characters should have no place in a 2023 movie.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.