Tom Cruise/Ethan Hunt is back, and he is attempting to save the cinematic experience during a time when streaming, CGI, and AI are all trying to derail it. Say what you will about Cruise. Even his contemporaries, such as actor Christian Bale, have said that the man lacks a soul. The latest installment in his successful franchise vehemently argues otherwise. Working with skilled director Christopher McQuarrie, Cruise launches a massive cinematic spectacle with a heartfelt and exciting movie that deserves to be witnessed on a gigantic screen in a dark theater.

Since the last film, Ethan Hunt and his IMF team have managed to save their organization and have proven their worth to the US government. However, a dark and methodical figure from his past arises to challenge all that Hunt holds dearly. Working with a rogue artificial intelligence that aims to wipe out all of humanity, terrorist and tech zealot Gabriel (Esai Morales) desires to start World War III by using technology to misdirect the world’s defenses and turn them on each other. While Gabriel has his advantages, both personal and technological, Hunt remains undaunted to stop this disaster from occurring using his talents and the gifts of his colleagues and friends.

My weak synopsis barely scratches the surface of what this fantastic blockbuster has to offer. I would instead write a lame summary as opposed to revealing too much about this incredible movie. As expected, Cruise risks both life and limb to deliver a fantastic action thriller with high stakes and a bold spectacle. I wanted more of a backstory to get a bigger picture of why Ethan Hunt’s history is essential in this story.

Still, I suspect, as this story arc is a two-parter, that we will get to see much more of the background story in the sequel. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is a breathtaking experience. Cruise and his phenomenal filmmakers come through with tremendous action set pieces, and McQuarrie plays beautifully with the stakes to build the tension superbly.

Actor Esai Morales, who portrays villain Gabriel, puts much heart and passion into his performance and does so with the appropriate cold and calculating facade. Cruise, as always, shines brightly as the movie star he has become. His mix of bravado, heart, and normal human vulnerability genuinely makes a case for the actor’s soul. It is also excellent to see Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson, and Simon Pegg fall back into their roles.

However, the central standout in this film is newcomer Haley Atwell, who stars as Grace, a professional thief caught in the middle of an imminent global disaster. It is so much fun to see her bring a calm attitude to the role, but it is also lovely to behold her character when she finally realizes she is over her head.

The newest installment of Mission: Impossible is now in theaters and deserves to be experienced that way. So far, it is my favorite summer blockbuster of this year and is one of the better installments of this long-running franchise. Part Two cannot come to theaters quickly enough!

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