The real mission impossible is that Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie who teamed up in Jack Reacher (2012), Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015) and Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018), go into the 7th edition of the MI franchise without a flesh-and-blood villain. IMF (a rather silly one that stands for, no, not that one, but for Impossible Mission Force) super-agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has to literally run and race against repeated deadlines to stop a faceless villain called ‘The Entity’ which is AI gone rogue. Right now, all the forces in the world, good and bad, are in the battlefield to find two keys that will lead to the source code, whatever it is.
The Cruise-Chris combo pulls it off with varied and stunningly choreographed, well-shot action sequences that come out of the IMAX screen with breathless frequency. Well done, Fraser Taggart. Gun fights, knives out to stab and fist punches through desert storms, over Italian bridges and atop a speeding train, take a breather once in a while to tell a story feeble with age.
A devil that can control the world must be stopped by a hero who believes that an evil MacGuffin every agency in the world seeks must be destroyed. So much power mustn’t fall into anybody’s hands, a plot that harks back to Ian Fleming’s 60s and has thereafter been the pivot of most other super adventures. Even moments of heartbreak in the screenplay where the agent must cope with loss are regular. Didn’t we see Daniel Craig lose his heart in Casino Royale in 2006?
But the nearly-three-hour-long entertainer is unabashed in not relying on its story. It’s the action, the warmth of album-like familiarity with old MI friends Luther (Ving Rhames), Benji (Simon Pegg) and Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson), bits of humour even in the midst of tension (Hunt and his new partner, female of course, finding a tiny yellow Fiat awaiting them when they’re being chased by villains in heavy-duty vehicles) and a few simple home truths like Hunt being human enough to accept that saving a life isn’t something he can promise anybody. But yes, he’ll put his life before hers, any day.
Along with Erik Jendresen, McQuarrie writes characters and situations that simply don’t stand out as new. Ethan the hero who spares wicked woman Paris (Pom Klementieff) who’ll return the favour one day. A classic hero moment when one woman exits his life and another enters, both with a soft corner for him. And the old master deception of face masks. Hindi moviegoers have seen it since Rajesh Khanna’s The Train (1970) which itself was the remake of Cochin Express, a 1967 Malayalam film, and more recently in the Hrithik-Tiger Shroff film War (2019).
But again, while multi forces chase Ethan Hunt, even the face mask has its moments of fun especially a classic one at a Gulf airport. And, although you know that the one-upmanship between Hunt and thief Grace (Hayley Atwell) who holds one key, will one day join forces, it’s still a delight watching them.
Car chases that go on forever (somebody forgot to say ‘Cut’), parachute jumps, the much-publicised motorbike stunts, women wearing snarls and snide smiles, a well-executed bomb scare around checked-in luggage with its own mirthful tension, a human villain (Esai Morales as Gabriel) who can throw a mean punch and take a few from Ethan, and a series of locations around the world, keep it hurtling. Until all of them meet the faceless AI the next time around.
On top of the game are the immersive action sequences, the agile and still charming Tom Cruise and Hayley Atwell who makes a spirited entry into the IMF team.
While fans gear up for more of the same in Part Two next year, just one ask to Cruise and Chris: how about attempting a real Mission Impossible and going on a ‘Hunt’ for a refreshing story?
Watch the trailer of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One
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