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Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning. Part One

Until now, the Mission: Impossible movies were a splendorous display of a brightly and greatly achieved gigantic global cinema, which even managed to associate major directors to each installment. The first five installments were from different directors: Brian De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams, Brad Bird and Christopher McQuarrie. But McQuarrie, a novelty in a franchise that suddenly was betting on stability, repeated his duties for the sixth installment. And kept the level of excellence: Mission: Impossible – Fallout did not feel tired, quite the contrary. Although it must be noted that, unlike what happened with the previous five films, there was not a renovation.

Now, once again, McQuarrie delivers the seventh installment, or the first part of it, and the tiredness began to rear its head or should we say the betrayals. This Mission: Impossible has what no other had until now, which could have been the product of some bureaucracy in the repetition, the lack of novelty from the directing hands or, perhaps the day has finally come, that although Tom Cruise can still running and pulling admirable and prodigious stunts which sustain some kind of realist bazinian concept like no cutting in key shots, his face seems to be fighting to not appear the age it has. In this way, while the wide shots around Cruise invest in vertigo, the closest to his face feel more tied-up, grittier, like the brief and bland sequence in Amsterdam. Cruise seems to move, as for show his face, with a care that Simon Pegg (the highest acting value in this installment; loose and blissful despite being always in danger) does not have.

Dead Reckoning. Part 1 starts with some tiredness that can be perceived in the opening submarine sequence and reappears at the laughable party sequence and in the conversations within the high ranking spheres of governmental intelligence. There is less cohesion in the narrative, as if things led us not so much narratively but mechanically towards the final sequence, that though prodigious as it is when it comes to its mise-en-scene, it is reiterative and bureaucratic: those train wagons are turning into brief videogame cinematics rather than a space created for cinematic emotion. Maybe these and other defects in this first part of Dead Reckoning are due to the fact that it is only half a film, but the second part can hardly solve the lack of logic of the character of Grace (a splendorous Hayley Atwell), which first displays a catalogue of clumsiness for comic relief and later is capable of unthought-of and dazzling stunts. And the second half of this film will hardly bring a solution to the badly drawn out development of the character of Ilsa Faust (the otherwise vibrant Rebecca Ferguson, this time around showing on her face that she did not like much what was done with Ilsa). And it is even more difficult yet that Dead Reckoning. Part 2 can correct the course for the villain and his evilness displayed so far: a villain with almost supernatural powers, half-psychic or in contact with the future, with esoteric dialogues and an evil agent, so far non-corporeal, that feeds him a script (we were very enthusiastic about the fight of the analog world vs. the digital world, but for the time being it has not happened). At some moments, this Mission: Impossible exhibits the least attractive qualities of Marvel Studios’ films when it comes to villains, at some other times starts to pointlessly imitate Star Wars ––the fight at the bridge in Venice––, and in repeated occasions ––far too many–– beats us with some ugly and sticky flashbacks. Dead Reckoning. Part 1 signals the entry of rather crude resources and giving up Hitchcock and this was a franchise that had him branded at its core. Not now. Now we have Ethan Hunt, who became sensitive and proper yet distant, with less malice than before, even less connected with the characters that surround him. And then we remember the stories about Cruise’s rage at the shooting of this film because there was a member of the crew who did not have his mask properly put on.

Director: Christopher McQuarrie. Writing Credits: Bruce Geller (Original TV Series), Erik Jendresen, Christopher McQuarrie. Cast: Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, Esai Morales. Producers: Tom Cruise, Leifur B. Dagfinnsson, Christopher McQuarrie. Running Time: 163 minutes.

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