The Mission: Impossible franchise has long been one of the most reliable and high-profile within the action genre. The seventh installment – subtitled Dead Reckoning Part One – has proved perhaps its most anticipated, having been subjected to a number of delays ahead of its eventual release. However, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (as wordy a title as that is) is a much bigger affair than just another opportunity for Tom Cruise to indulge his inner adrenaline junkie – it’s perhaps the franchise’s most ambitious release to date.

As is tradition in the franchise, Dead Reckoning Part One tells a story largely independent from previous installments. It follows Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and the other members of the IMF as they race the world’s governments to take possession of a mysterious key involved with a super-powerful rogue AI known as the Entity. Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, and Henry Czerny all reprise their roles, with Hayley Atwell joining the main cast as Grace, a thief who finds herself in the middle of plot involving the IMF and the Entity.

It’s no secret that the Mission: Impossible franchise has become known for its impressive and ridiculous action scenes, and in that regard, Dead Reckoning Part One is no exception. However, it’s the first story in the franchise to be split into two films, hinting at the prospect of a much bigger narrative. In that regard, it delivers in spades.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One Is The Franchise’s Best Story To Date

Hayley Atwell and Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)

Though it would have been all but impossible to escalate the franchise’s stunts any further, Dead Reckoning Part One found another way to outdo its predecessors. Its story is the franchise’s most engaging, taking a plausible sci-fi scenario and tasking its heroes with saving the world (again). It’s a classic Mission: Impossible caper, involving all the hallmarks of the franchise. It’s also troublingly prescient, and therein lies its brilliance.

Combining modern concerns about AI with a large-scale action blockbuster is brilliant, addressing a potential technological problem with the same Cruise-led madcap action the franchise is known for. It captures the essence of the franchise with an especially compelling story, making it stand out even amongst its predecessors. The stakes feel higher than ever before, lending an added air of desperation to the film’s narrative.

Mission: Impossible 7 Keeps The Franchise Feeling Fresh & Alive

Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson, and Tom Cruise as Benji Dunn, Luther Stickell, Ilsa Faust, and Ethan Hunt respectively on a boat in Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)

Dead Reckoning Part One doesn’t just touch on the established ideas of the Mission: Impossible franchise, it pushes them to new heights. Returning characters add a touch of familiarity, while its new characters keep the story feeling fresh. It’s a film full of twists and turns, interspersed with impressively-crafted vehicular chases and unbelievable stunts.

From the dedicated performances of its cast to the carefully-conceived stunts, Dead Reckoning Part One is action movie magic. Hayley Atwell gives Cruise a run for his money as the franchise’s most compelling character, grounding the narrative with an air of light skepticism. What’s more, Esai Morales’s Gabriel is one of the franchise’s best villains to date, acting at the behest of the faceless (and utterly terrifying) Entity. It’s all world-class stuff, and it proves that Mission: Impossible has only gotten better with age.

There’s very little not to love about Dead Reckoning Part One. Not only is it packed with action and suspense, but it’s so deftly crafted that it’s one of cinema’s most immersive films in years. What’s more, it ends with the promise of an even more explosive conclusion, meaning that there’s all the more reason to believe that the modern blockbuster is alive and well.

Rating: 85%

Summary: Well-written, well-acted, and brilliantly realized, Dead Reckoning Part One is an especially thrilling entry into an already thrilling franchise. Cruise and Atwell make for a brilliant new pairing, and Dead Reckoning‘s AI-driven story is as chilling as it is culturally relevant.

Highlight: Though any of Cruise’s slightly insane action set pieces stand out, Atwell’s solid performance as newcomer Grace is one of the franchise’s best additions.