I often gripe about running times, especially when a movie is (needlessly) longer than two hours. There’s no griping with Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One. At 160 minutes, it feels like a complete movie experience even as it leaves you wanting morea whole Part Two more! Mark your calendars for Summer 2024!

Dead Reckoning Part One is the seventh film in the MI franchise that features Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, field agent for the Impossible Mission Force (IMF), a super-secret government agency tasked with taking on impossible missions (should the team choose to accept) where the fate of the world tends to hang in the balance.

This time around, Ethan and his IMF team must track down two parts of a single key that unlocks a form of Artificial Intelligence that could be weaponized and used in the most nefarious of ways by the most nefarious of people. Sure, there’s a lot more to the story, but I don’t want to run the risk of spoiling the ride — much of which takes place on the top of a speeding train. Or on a cliff. Or on a bridge.

Looking back through my reviews of  Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018), Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015), Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011), there is a common thread: These films are all action-packed and entertaining; they boast a stellar supporting cast; Tom Cruise ages remarkably well; and he delivers preposterously awesome stunts in gorgeous locales. Reckoning may actually be the best yet. Cruise and director Christopher “McQ” McQuarrie (who joined the franchise with Rogue Nation) continue to push boundaries (and actors) to keep CGI to a minimum and EKGs spiking.

And the timing of a plot centered on AI run amok? How frighteningly prescient!

Cruise may rub some people the wrong way, but the guy knows how to make a crowd pleaser (see: Top Gun: Maverick). And he’s fortunate enough to surround himself with castmates who seem to revel in the experience. Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg are back as Benji and Luther, Ethan’s loyal, resourceful and often comical IMF teammates; Esai Morales joins the franchise as bad guy Gabriel; Vanessa Kirby reprises her role as philanthropist/arms dealer Alannna Mitsopolis aka The White Widow; Rebecca Ferguson is back as steely-eyed sharp-shooter Ilsa Faust; and two new women burst on the scene– British actress Hayley Atwell as Grace, an expert thief and conwoman; and French actress Pom Klementieff as Gabriel’s henchwoman, aptly named Paris.  The women are all kick ass.

MI enthusiasts should be more than satisfied with Reckoning. For potential newbies to the franchise, there is enough exposition at the start of the movie to set the scene and pull you in. It takes a bit longer than expected to kick into high gear, but once it does, there’s no getting out of your seat, which is likely to shake quite a bit if you see the film as intended — in Dolby or IMAX. If  sensitive to LOUD, bring earplugs or cotton.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One opens exclusively in theaters on July 12.

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