Tom Cruise in Top Form for Another ‘Mission’ Movie

The challenge in continuing the Mission: Impossible franchise is that fans expect each entry to be “bigger” and more awe-inspiring than the last. With the seventh film in the series, and the third straight he has directed, writer-director Christopher McQuarrie and superstar actor Tom Cruise have managed to accomplish what seemed unlikely; they have delivered Ethan Hunt’s biggest and grandest mission yet. Prepare to be awed by the action.

You should know that this is “Part One” and it runs 163 minutes, a full hour longer than most movies, and exponentially more expensive to produce. All this during an age when ultra-high-budget blockbusters are being rumored to be fading from public interest. Of course, we are only one year removed from Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick being credited with ‘saving cinema,’ so stay on alert for a ‘sky is falling’ panic. McQuarrie co-wrote the script with Erik Jendresen (Band of Brothers), and they remain faithful to the characters and storylines established by the TV series creator, Bruce Geller.

There may never have been an actor more suited to a recurring role than Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt (Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones might be the closest). The story itself is fairly straightforward, even if the item being chased often feels like a MacGuffin. Your questioning of how a ‘simple’ spy-thriller can be effective is understandable, yet it’s fascinating to watch as Ethan Hunt’s mission in life as an agent is evaluated, as is the cost he’s paid as a man. Providing a contemporary theme, the obscure object of desire is an all-powerful key (actually two parts of a key) based on controlling an all-encompassing artificial intelligence.

In a twist on a familiar theme (and a classic comedy film), we have airports, trains, and electric vehicles, the latter being a tiny Fiat. Still, the car chase is everything we might hope for, while the high-tech facial search in the airport sequence delivers the thrills for techie viewers, and the train sparring occurs inside as well as on top. And lest you be worried, there are enough Cruise sprint scenes here to put Chariots of Fire to shame.

Familiar faces include Ethan Hunt’s team of Luther (Ving Rhames, who along with Cruise, has appeared in all 7 films), Benji (Simon Pegg), and Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson). It’s nice to again see (and hear) Henry Czerny as Kittridge, Vanessa Kirby as arms dealer the White Widow, and Esai Morales – as Gabriel, the required villain in search of the same key as our good guys. New faces include Haylee Atwell as master pickpocket Grace, whose soul may or may not be beyond salvation; Cary Elwes as agency director Denlinger; Shea Whigham and Greg Tarzan Davis as officers after Ethan Hunt; and Pom Klementieff as a hired assassin.

The stunt work here is outstanding, and of course, Tom Cruise is renowned for personally handling many of the most breathtaking acts – the most memorable one here being riding a motorcycle off a cliff. This stunt has a ‘making of’ video that’s been available for a while. As moviegoers, we’ve never seen anything like it. This part one was originally scheduled for release in 2021 (thanks a lot, COVID), and now part two is set for 2024. It’s been 27 years since the first Mission: Impossible (1996) with Jon Voight; Cruise was 34 at the time. This particular mission is the biggest yet, and it would certainly be impossible for the rest of us. It’s a mission that will be closed out in part two, and simultaneously bring an end to Cruise’s remarkable run as Ethan Hunt.