REVIEW: New M:I plays it safe, but still a fun ride

For my money, there are few ongoing film franchises that deliver as consistently high-quality and enjoyable movies as Mission: Impossible

Smart, full of bonkers action scenes and more than a few suicidally dangerous Tom Cruise stunts, the series rarely misses these days, and once that iconic theme music starts playing you know you’re in for a good time at the movies. 

After 27 years and seven films (and a TV series, but it has little to do with the current big screen juggernaut), the adventures of Ethan Hunt do have a tendency to blur together, however, and this is no more evident than in Mission: Impossible- Dead Reckoning Part 1, another fantastic entry that lives up to the high standards of the series despite its dependency on the same old M:I tropes and cliches that audience members have come to expect at this point. 

Mission: Impossible- Dead Reckoning Part 1 doesn’t really do anything that we as an audience haven’t seen before, but this was more comforting to me than annoying. 

Tom Cruise has some solid banter with his lovable crew, has to bend the rules to do the right thing, goes to a fancy European party, and does a whole lot of running. Once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. 

Except not really, since the action set pieces are always fresh and the characters are always engaging, as is the case with M:I’s latest (I particularly liked the addition of Hayley Atwell’s character, who I have a hunch is being set up for a spinoff movie or two once Cruise finally hangs up his running shoes). 

Dead Reckoning may just have the coolest car chase of the entire series, and there is a sequence on a train that may have raised my blood pressure levels to dangerous heights. And really, isn’t that what we see action movies for? Potential heart attacks? 

Being a bit smarter than your average action franchise, the Mission: Impossible films for me always lie on the border between being just simple enough to understand everything and being a little too complicated for me to keep track of all the moving pieces and motivations. Dead Reckoning falls solidly into the latter camp, as I will have to see it again or read a couple of plot summaries written by smarter people to figure out what exactly was going on a couple of times, but I can’t dock the movie for that. I’m sure it all made sense to the people who weren’t distracted by how attractive Hayley Atwell is. 

Mission: Impossible- Dead Reckoning Part 1 ends satisfactorily despite the fact that it is (surprise!) the first of a two-parter, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. It is an action blockbuster that all of the other action blockbusters wish that they could be. Sure it might play things safe (it might be the only thing that does… stop jumping off of things, Tom, you’re in your sixties!), but why mess with the formula when the formula is this good? 

Mission: Impossible- Dead Reckoning Part 1 is in theaters.