By Randal C. Hill
This summer, Tom Cruise is back on the big screen as international spy Ethan Hunt for the seventh “Mission: Impossible,” this one subtitled Dead Reckoning Part One. Part Two will appear in June 2024.
Christopher McQuarrie writes, directs and produces (he also helmed the previous two Mission: Impossible blockbusters, “MI: Fallout” and “MI: Rogue Nation”). McQuarrie took his movie title from a particular deadly source that poses the greatest threat yet to Ethan Hunt and his team. “Dead reckoning is a navigational term,” explains McQuarrie. “It means you’re picking a course based solely on your last known position…There are many things emerging from Ethan’s past.”
Film locales included Italy, Norway, the Middle East and England.
Paramount’s recently released movie trailer revealed little about “Dead Reckoning’s” central premise but did showcase the high-octane stunts that we’ve come to enjoy over the years. There are three main action set pieces here. One is a smash-‘em-up, 20-minute car chase through Venice, Italy. Another is when Ethan Hunt and his latest protagonist have a fight atop a high-speed train. But the primary jaw-dropper arrives when Cruise ramps off a mountain cliff on a motorcycle before jumping off and opening a parachute.
Cruise, who turns 61 this month, has admitted that this last feat was by far the most dangerous he has ever attempted. (He performs nearly all his own stunts.) To prepare, Tom endured 500 hours of skydiving training, made 1,300 practice motorcycle jumps and ran through his paces six times before filming.
Cruise is joined by a fine supporting cast, which includes Ving Rhames as tech wizard Luther Stickwell, Simon Pegg as fellow field agent Benji Dunn, and Rebecca Ferguson as former M16 operative Ilsa Faust. Esai Morales (“La Bamba”) takes on the role of the latest primary bad guy. Henry Czerny’s character of Eugene Kittredge, a former IMF director whom we haven’t seen since the first “Mission: Impossible” nearly three decades ago, plays a major role in connecting the dots to Hunt’s legendary but murky past.
Back in 1996, undoubtedly very few movie fans would have predicted such an enduring franchise to emerge from the original “Mission: Impossible” launch. (Yes, it was based on the hit TV show.) In the 26 years since Brian De Palma’s espionage thriller first appeared in multiplexes everywhere, we have seen five sequels and supported a franchise that has proven to be just about Hollywood’s slickest action-driven series ever. The action commences on July 14.