Let’s face it, you kind of hate yourself for liking “Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One.” First of all, it’s two hours and forty three minutes. You could have flown to Miami or something. Second, following “Top Gun Maverick,” it’s another Tom Cruise extravaganza that will be a huge crowd pleaser. Even an aging Tom Cruise still has the charm he exuded in “Risky Business” and that was 40 years ago.
Some of “DR Part One” is a little hard to follow, but don’t worry about that. That part involves something called The Entity, which I think is like The Borg from “Star Trek.” It’s AI, or an algorithm. Charlie Brown once asked Linus what he did when he got to the long Russian names while reading “Dostoevsky.” Linus replied, “I just skip over them.” That’s what I did with The Entity. (Luckily there’s mustache twirling human villain, too, in the form of Esai Morales.)
The main thing in “DR Part One” is that UK actress Hayley Atwell really becomes a movie star. So many times in the past she was supposed to break through, whether it was in :Woody Allen’s “Cassandra’s Dream,” some “Avengers” projects, or in the wonderful “Howard’s End” TV version with Matthew MacFadyen. She was always the promising newcomer.
Now Atwell joins the long line of Ethan Hunt’s leading ladies and romantic interests, all of whom have been excellent — from Thandiwe Newton to Michelle Monaghan to Rebecca Ferguson. But Grace has something extra that propels her through this non stop action like champ. She’s beautiful, smart, sexy, cool, fun, and athletic (at least her stunt double is). She’s a good type for Cruise to be matched with, like Jennifer Connelly in ‘Maverick.” Atwell’s Grace is a welcome addition to the IMF group even though she doesn’t know it yet.
The rest of the team is back including Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, and Henry Czerny. Add to them Oscar nominee Vanessa Kirby, who returns as The White Widow and gets to play two parts simultaneously in what is almost a mini movie within “DR Part One.” She’s a welcome distraction, believe me, and director Christopher McQuarrie knows it.
“DR Part One” is a long movie, but I never felt tired or bored. Cruise and co. can really thank themselves that Lalo Schifrin — who just turned 91 — wrote that theme music back in the 60s for the original TV show. Lorne Balfe uses it throughout his score, plus all the cues and incidental music that came with it — and it never lets up or disappoints. The music propels the film and gives a constant reminder where you are as the flames burst into explosions and bullets fly in every direction.
Then there’s the added attraction of seeing Tom Cruise, the biggest movie star in the world, constantly in danger of dying because he does these amazing stunts. He’s jumping off cliffs, flying through the air on a motorcycle, riding the tops of bullet trains through tunnels. (I always imagine what Peter Graves, the original star of “MI,” must have thought if he saw any of this.) Paramount has supplied plenty of evidence that Cruise does almost all of it himself, even when that seems eye brow raising. The main thing, when you see it, it’s not to hard to believe. Cruise is the epitome of “go for it.”
Last summer, the word was Tom Cruise saved movie theaters with “Top Gun.” He’ll do it again this summer, although I’m not sure the box office — which will be huge– can match those dizzying heights. “Top Gun” had a big heart tug, a lot of emotional appeal and nostalgia. “DR Part One” is action, action, action. It’s a thrill ride, but heavy enough on “thrill” that fans will flock to multiple viewings.