"Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One" Source: Paramount Pictures

Review: 'Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One'

JC Alvarez READ TIME: 3 MIN.

Hardly anyone could have predicted the durability of a movie franchise based on a popular television spy show from the '60s, but "Mission: Impossible" has stood the test of time. Nearly three decades since the Brian De Palma-directed first installment dropped a rigged-up Tom Cruise into a motion-sensitive silo and dangled him off a speeding train, each episode (with perhaps the exception of the second film) has risen to the task of upping the ante. In the latest film – the seventh in the series – the break-neck pace has tripled, the stakes are stratospheric, and Cruise continues to leap from tall buildings.

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie (his third in the series), "Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part 1" stars Cruise once again as super-spy Ethan Hunt. With every mission Hunt accepts, the world appears closer to total collapse; this latest mission is far more cryptic than any before. Hunt and his team are tasked with retrieving a key (or rather half a key) that has been appropriated by someone Ethan trusts, but who is now one of the most wanted people in the world.

The films in the series are known for death-defying stunts, with Cruise usually at the center of them. Cruise has made it his mission, no matter how impossible, to outdo himself with each film. "Dead Reckoning Part 1" doesn't disappoint, but don't expect all of its hijinks to come from the specially-crafted high-wire acts. The cast has reassembled favorites Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg as Hunt's trusted co-conspirators, and Rebecca Ferguson is back as British super-spy Ilsa Faust.

The chemistry among this foursome has been a constant, and is only intensified by the addition of Hayley Atwell (Marvel Studios' "Agent Carter") as Grace, a wildcard thief who finds herself in the middle of a worldwide conspiracy. In this mission, Hunt and his team aren't facing a corrupt syndicate determined to overturn democracy; the adversary is an artificial intelligence that is determined to eradicate all governing agencies and install itself at the top of the food chain. In order to make its case, the AI is playing superpowers against one another all across the planet. Vanessa Kirby returns as Alanna Mitsopolis, the power broker willing to sell her half of the key to the highest bidder, regardless of the implications.

The deal is set to take place on the glorious luxury train the Orient Express, unless Hunt and Grace can intervene in the transaction. Parts of "M: I 7" harken back to "greatest hits" from previous films, with the action on the Orient Express mirroring the confrontation on a speeding train in the first movie. McQuarrie and Cruise have definitely amped up the action, as the runaway train is heading for certain destruction while our heroes move about like chess pieces to keep the villains from winning the day. This act is just one of many breakneck moments. "M: I 7" doesn't profess to reinvent the wheel, but it has brought in the best components to make this a surefire blockbuster.

"Dead Reckoning Part 1" is rumored to be setting up the eighth, and presumably final, "Mission: Impossible" for Cruise. Whether that means the end of the "MI" franchise is another question; this mission will likely bring in an audience eager for action and thrills that feel far more consequential than high-octane fast cars or heroes in Kevlar tights racing through a multiverse.

"Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part 1" works on several levels: The action is relevant and engaging, the cast is attractive and appealing, and Tom Cruise is still the world's #1 action star – no one does it better!

"Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part 1" opens in theaters July 12.

by JC Alvarez

Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".

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