c J Wagner-20230706_215716-02194-Studio-supplied media assets & my own for movie—Mission Impossible—Dead Reckoning-Part One-iPh14PM-8049—6in x 300dpi

Movie Review: Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

In the past I have NEVER attended more than one pre-screening for ANY movie, but I went to two for Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One — it was that good. This movie is, without a doubt, one of the very best action-adventure movies that I have ever seen. Its near non-stop, fast-paced, ingenious action sequences are truly exciting and breath-taking. The spectacularly incredible stunts are performed to absolute perfection.

A little history is in order. As great as Tom Cruise is in the role of IMF team leader Ethan Hunt, his character was not the first. In 1966 I, at the age of 12 and living in Canada, watched first-run episodes of the original Mission: Impossible TV series — on a black & white TV set, since our family did not get our first color TV until 1968 — a little over a year after TV programs were first broadcast in color in Canada.

Each episode began with a description of the secret mission that Mr. Phelps (played by actor Peter Graves), team leader of the Impossible Mission Force (IMF), was being asked to select a covert team of specialists for and then undertake. He, as did we, learned about the mission by playing an audio tape. Those messages began something like this: ‘Good morning Mr. Phelps. Your mission, should you choose to accept it…’ and ended with ‘Should you or any member of your IMF team be caught, this agency will disavow any and all knowledge of…” Then the tape self-destructed in a cloud of smoke. Mr. Phelps proceeded to look through a folder containing movie star-like ‘head sheets’ of IMF operatives, from which he would select several for the particular mission, depending upon their individual skill sets. One character in particular who stands out in my memory was the one portrayed by actor Martin Landau. Among his other skills, he was a master of disguise who made the incredibly realistic, face-altering, identity-changing masks. In those days there was live action but hardly any special effects. If you’d like to learn more about the characters in the TV series, a good starting place would be: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Mission:_Impossible_characters

Paramount tells us that In Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team embark on their most dangerous mission yet: to track down a terrifying new weapon that threatens all of humanity before it falls into the wrong hands.

Tom Cruise and Hayley Atwell in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.

Even if you have already seen this movie — and perhaps especially if you have — I strongly recommend that you watch this interview of Tom Cruise: https://youtu.be/YL28PmG-oUg. Here he discusses the scene in which he launches his motorcycle off of a cliff, after which only the successful deployment of his parachute can save him from certain death…

Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie on the set of Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.

… he expresses his absolute conviction that they can and will make each movie better than the previous one; he stresses the importance of making the stories especially immersive and technologically state-of-the-art; he explains the critical, split-second timing and co-ordination of the action scenes; and more.

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.

This interview will give you a deep understanding of, and appreciation for, why everything looks so realistic and, incredible as it may seem, believable. It is what sets this movie apart from other, even very recent, action/adventure films.

In case you’re curious, Cruise drove a custom-made Honda CRF 250 off a cliff in Norway, dropping 4,000 feet and opening his parachute barely 500 feet from the ground — eight times to make sure the footage was perfect!  

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.

Can it reasonably be suggested that action hero Tom Cruise is perhaps a modern-day version of the late, great Steve McQueen? I’ll leave that to you but one scene in particular, in which Tom Cruise, speeding through a field, jumped his motorcycle over an old stone wall, immediately brought to my mind a similar scene starring Steve McQueen in The Great Escape.

Do not worry that this is only Part One. Enough was resolved that I left the theater feeling satisfied, while really looking forward to seeing the eventual conclusion in Part Two. An unprecedented third screening of Part One may well be in my future.

To see the final trailer and more for Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, visit: https://www.missionimpossible.com/home/.

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Copyright © 2023 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #798r1

Jan Wagner


  1. David Sperry on July 22, 2023 at 7:49 am

    Jan, I left an earlier comment that apparently didn’t submit. I read that the theatrical opening of M:I last weekend was “soft “, presumably because it followed quickly on the heels of Top Gun from last year. The theory was that there is “Tom Cruise Intensive Action” overload. I hope not, because the next M:I is already filmed and “in the can”.

    • Jan Wagner on July 25, 2023 at 8:12 am

      Tom Cruise had a greater variety of action in MI.

  2. David Sperry on July 20, 2023 at 5:02 am

    Jan, I see my comment of July 11th did survive the Captcha flaw, so I hope everything in your site is back to normal. David.

  3. David Sperry on July 11, 2023 at 11:40 pm

    Jan, this review of Mission Impossible is even better than your recent one of Indiana Jones, which was a well written review of a bad movie… this is an excellent review of a superb movie.

    I too also remember watching the TV series on black and white TV in Canada, the only difference being that I’m a bit older than you and was already working in Montreal as a young Mechanical Engineer. I loved the series, and as you point out, special effects had not yet reached TV.

    As much as I enjoyed Steve McQueen’s movies with the exciting car chases and motorcycle stunts, history will place Tom Cruise as the Grand Master of action movies. Admittedly, the James Bond films each had a spectacular “real” stunt at the beginning, sometimes done by a stunt double. But Tom Cruise has built up a portfolio over a long career that will be difficult for others to attain. Daniel Craig and Jackie Chan deserve mention for their real stunts, but neither will leave the legacy of Cruise.

    I’ll definitely watch this movie when it comes to TV. Great review! David

    • Jan Wagner on July 12, 2023 at 11:25 am

      Thank you for your wonderful comment. You help inspire me to do this.
      Have you watched the YouTube interview of Tom Cruise, for which I provided a link in my column? I think you will find it fascinating.

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