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Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning, Part One (IMAX in some cinemas)


Stars: Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, Pom Klementieff, Esai Morales, Cary Elwes, Shea Whigham, Henry Czerny, Mark Gatiss, Indira Varma

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

The Times film critic Kevin Maher recently penned a column bemoaning the fact that, as the only UK critic to give this film a poor review (one green splodge in the midst of the red of Rotten Tomatoes), he'd been subjected to an unwarranted amount of hate mail.

Well, fret no more, Kevin: your sleepless nights are over. I, too, found this underwhelming action film about as consistently entertaining as you'd expect from part one of a near six-hour movie. Too slow and talky too often, the movie especially tries the patience in the near-soporific exchanges between ace agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his confederates Luther (Rhames, a very good performance with not much to work with) and Benjy (Pegg in hysteria mode).

The plot majors in familiar tropes, with too few new ideas, hinging on on a conceit already used this year in Shazam! Fury of the Gids and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny - that of an artefact that could change the world, divided into two parts of which all parties concerned are in hot pursuit - in this case the Cruciform Key, which will unlock something, targeting the world's intelligence services, to be revealed in part two.

Who knows which half of the key, or even a counterfeit, is in the hands of who as the plot, such as it is, progresses? It's not worth your while hurting your brain trying to figure it out, as your attention is distracted by the obligatory action - karate combats, car chases, a battle on top of a speeding train. Despite Cruise's commendable stuntwork, we feel we've seen so much of this, or its like, before.

Morales is a cut-price George Clooney as the colourless villain, while Atwell, although the nominal female lead, has somewhat less acting ability than her three female co-stars, even though she looks fantastic and seems to be doing much of her own precarious stuntwork. The dialogue is full of tired aphorisms - 'We're powerless to stop it' gasp the authorities - and the only plus behind the camera is Lorne Balfe's rousing music, which blends seamlessly with Lalo Schifrin's stirring original theme.

Finally, perhaps I should apologise for penning a review almost as long as the film.

David Quinlan

USA 2023. UK Distributor: Paramount. Colour (unspecified).
164 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 12 Jul 2023