Review: Cruise keeps thrills alive with 7th Mission: Impossible film

( Courtesy, Paramount Pictures)

If you have any interest in seeing the latest installment of Tom Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible” franchise, “Dead Reckoning Part One,” then by all means go to see it in the theater and on the biggest screen you can stand.

The seventh film of the this series might not be the best of the bunch, but it’s the biggest thrill ride of the summer this side of Silver Dollar City or even Six Flags amusement parks in St. Louis or Dallas.

The movie is two hours and 43 minutes long, but it’s so action-packed and well-paced that I hardly noticed. Director/writer Christopher McQuarrie is the perfect partner for Cruise, and since they began working together on the franchise with 2015’s “M:I — “Rouge Nation,” the series has improved drastically. 

This time Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is joined by Grace, a burglar played with aplomb by Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter from the Marvel movies), who is a destructive force of nature and a perfect partner for the the adventurous Hunt. Her chemistry with Cruise is electric, and their interplay is one of the highlights of the movie beyond the extraordinary action and set pieces McQuarrie put to kinetic use in this breath-taking film that rarely slows down.

Returning are favorites Simon Pegg as Benji and Ving Rhames as Luthor, Hunt’s associates who are the best at what they do, which is to make sure Hunt survives until the next film. Rebecca Ferguson also appears as Ilsa, who is now an unofficial member of Hunt’s squad.

Vanessa Kirby, rumored to play the Invisible Woman in Marvel’s upcoming “Fantastic Four,” plays the alluring black-market arms dealer Alana or the “White Widow,” while Pom Klementieff (Guardians of the Galaxy Vols. 2 and 3) plays the deadly sword-wielding assassin Paris. She works for Gabriel (Esai Morales), the film’s big bad, who is attempting to use “The Entity,” a rouge artificial intelligence program, to manipulate world events to his liking. Morales is a bit wooden, but all the action going on all around him more than makes up for his lack of charisma.

The return of Eugene Kittridge (Henry Czerny) last seen in the first film in the series in 1996 as Ethan’s boss is a crowd pleaser, and he’s just as big of a jerk today as he was over 25 years ago.

The movie is an adrenaline ride that keeps you guessing and rolling with the action until the movie halts rather than ends. “Dead Reckoning — Part II”  will hit theaters next June to conclude this story.

What I enjoyed is that the movie is so fast-paced that I didn’t have time to poke any holes in the plot as the movie barreled toward its tentative conclusion. That break-neck pace kept me entertained and riveted to my seat. 

What more can you ask for from a summer action-adventure extravaganza?

Grade: B

New in Local Theaters – July 14, 2023

The Miracle Club (PG-13) (PG-13) 1 hr. 31 min. (trailer)(AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback)
Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One (PG-13) 2 hrs. 43 min. (trailer)(AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Towne, Malco Springdale, Skylight)
Psycho Pass: Providence (R) 2 hrs. (trailer)(Malco Pinnacle)

Classic Corner – Favorite Tom Cruise Films

For whatever reasons, Tom Cruise has never been one of my favorite stars. I’ve liked a lot of his movies. Maybe even most of his movies, come to think of it, but I’ve never really anticipated his upcoming films.

I guess, looking back, I’ve just been slow to give Cruise credit where credit is due. So with his seventh Mission Impossible movie in theaters this week, I’ll tip my hat to Tom by naming my favorite three of his movies.

Born on the 4th of July (1989)

This biopic about the strife and heartache caused by Viet Nam War for veteran Ron Kovic is a powerful film featuring and strong central performance by Cruise as Kovic, who patriotically lost the use of his legs in the war only to come home to a torn and divided country and people who showed little regard for the man who sacrificed so much for its honor.

Kovic became an anti-war activist, and that could with his physical, mental, and emotional struggles will make the movie tough viewing for most.

The movie garnered Cruise is first Academy Award nomination, but Daniel Day-Lewis took home the Oscar for his performance in “My Left Foot.” Hard to argue with that. Director Oliver Stone, however, did win the Oscar for the film. Cruise has been nominated for two other acting Oscars in 1997 for “Jerry Maguire” and for “Magnolia” in 2000, but has never won.

He was nominated as producer for “Top Gun: Maverick” earlier this year. Again, “Born on the 4th of July” is a hard watch. There’s nothing uplifting about it, but Cruise put his heart into his performance that stands at the center of a strong piece of filmmaking.

Rain Man (1988)

Certainly Dustin Hoffman’s Oscar-winning performance as Raymond is the centerpiece of this movie, but Cruise more than holds his own on screen with one of the all-time greats as the callous and calculating younger brother of Hoffman’s autistic savant older brother Raymond, whom Cruise’s character Charlie only learned about after the death of their father.

By the end of the film Charlie, a high-end collectible’s dealer,” journeys from being put off and angered by the annoyance of Raymond to becoming a loving caretaker to his unique but needful brother.

While the picture, expertly directed by Barry Levinson, was a crowd-pleaser and a critical darling, winning Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Original Screenplay, Cruise’s performance was overlooked.

Hoffman’s role is showy, but Cruise’s growth as Charlie is arguably the true heart of the movie.

A Few Good Men (1992)

“A Few Good Men” is my favorite Cruise film and performance as Daniel Jaffe.

He’s cocky, charismatic, and yet a bit vulnerable as an in-over-his-head JAG lawyer in this film, based on the play by Aaron Sorkin.

Sorkin also wrote the script, which received outstanding direction by Rob Reiner (“When Harry Met Sally” and “This is Spinal Tap”) at the height of his directorial powers.

Cruise is perfect in the role and his climactic courtroom showdown with Jack Nicholson as Col. Nathan Jessep is one of the best scenes in cinematic history in my book. Kevin Bacon, Kevin Pollak, J.T. Walsh, and Kiefer Sutherland give memorable supporting performances that bolster Cruise’s heavy lifting at every turn.

The film also includes one of Demi Moore’s best performances as another JAG lawyer who is unsure if Daniel is up to the task he’s been assigned, and she is the key to prodding, provoking, and pushing him to success.

The movie was nominated for four Oscars, but won none. “Unforgiven” won for Best Picture in 1993, which is fair, but I’d take Nicholson’s turn as Jessep over Gene Hackman’s performance as Little Bill Daggett in “Unforgiven,” which won him the Best Supporting Actor nod.