Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One - Photo Paramount Pictures
Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One – Photo Paramount Pictures

Cinematic adventures just don’t get more exciting than Tom Cruise’s “Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning – Part One.”

Inspired by the 1960s’ television series, shadowy IMF secret agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is once again summoned by Kittreidge (Henry Czerny), his CIA government contact, this time to combat a sophisticated, state-of-the-art A.I., known as ‘The Entity,’ that threatens the entire world. 

Hunt’s mission involves acquiring two parts of an intricately bejeweled, cruciform key that’s also sought by villainous Gabriel (Esai Morales); it ignites a cryptic device concealed in a Russian submarine, called the Sebastopol, sunk somewhere below the ice in the Arctic Circle. 

After reassembling his Impossible Mission Force ‘team’ – expert hacker Luther (Ving Rhames) & field agent Benji (Simon Pegg) – Ethan goes after adroit thief Grace (Hayley Atwell), British spy Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) and arms dealer White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), while eluding Paris (Pom Klementieff), a ruthless assassin.

While it’s well-known that Tom Cruise does his own daredevil stunts, credit the film’s coordinator Wade Eastwood, particularly for the authentic motorbike jump in which Cruise careens up a ramp and over the edge of a 1,246-meter-high Norwegian cliff, plunging into a ravine and parachuting to the ground. 

In preparation, Cruise took 500 hours of skydiving training and did 13,000 motorbike jumps. He then performed this stunt six times for just the right shot.

Another adrenaline-pumping scene has him boarding a speeding train right before the Kylling Bridge on Rauma Railway is blown up. Previously, there’s a high-speed chase down Rome’s Spanish Steps with Cruise handcuffed to Atwell in a tiny vintage yellow Fiat 500.

While actively propelling the action sequences, director Christopher McQuarrie, co-writing with Erik Jendresen, keeps a clear focus on Ethan Hunt’s character, including his humor and vulnerability, cleverly blending story and spectacle.

FYI: No “Mission Impossible” film has ever had ‘teaser’ end-credit scenes, and Part Two is scheduled for June 2024.

Full disclosure: My son, Don Granger, is one of the producers.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning – Part One” is an intense, thrilling 10. See it in theaters – on as big a screen as possible. 

The Out-laws - Photo Netflix
The Out-laws – Photo Netflix

Perhaps it’s unfair but when the opening logo of the new comedy “The Out-Laws” indicates that it’s “A Happy Madison Production,” I’m immediately wary. Adam Sandler’s concept of humor has rarely matched mine.

Dorky bank manager Owen Browning (Adam Devine) is engaged to pretty Parker (Nina Dobrev) and they’re busy planning their upcoming wedding. Owen has even constructed a diorama for the seating arrangement using action figures; he’s He-Man while Parker is the Pink Power Ranger.

Although Owen’s clueless parents (Julie Hagerty, Richard Kind) still think Parker is a stripper, not a yoga teacher, they’re relatively harmless compared with Parker’s intimidating, criminally-connected parents (Ellen Barkin, Pierce Brosnan), who arrive unexpectedly after spending many years studying the Yanomami tribe in the Amazon.

Of course, that’s merely their cover story and, apparently, they’re in need of cash to pay off villainous Rehan (Poorna Jagunnathan), so they become prime suspects when blabbermouth Owen’s bank is robbed by the so-called ‘Ghost Bandits,’ pursued for years by FBI agent Oldham (Michael Rooker). So much for the predictable plot.

Vaguely scripted by Evan Turner and Ben Zasove, it’s helmed by Tyler Spindel – formerly Adam Sandler’s second unit director – who unwisely encouraged the cast’s senselessly puerile improvisations, which simply fall flat.

On second thought, perhaps ad-libbing is better than Parker’s supposedly sexy scripted line: “I’m gonna twist you like one of your Go-Gurts and slurp you dry” or Oldham’s demand:  “License and masturbation please.”

FYI: Adam Sandler’s wife Jackie plays one of the two Vegan Divas and their daughter Sadie plays Owen’s cousin.

On the Granger Gauge, “The Out-Laws” is a moronic 2, a total waste of time, streaming on Netflix.

Westport resident Susan Granger grew up in Hollywood, studied journalism with Pierre Salinger at Mills College, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. In addition to writing for newspapers and magazines, she has been on radio/television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic for many years. See all her reviews at www.susangranger.com.