Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One First Reviews: Action Filmmaking at Its Finest

Critics say Part One is thrilling and emotional, doing enough to stand on its own while also keeping audiences excited for the final installment.

by | July 5, 2023 | Comments


The beginning of the end of the Mission: Impossible movie franchise appears to be another banger, according to the first reviews of the sequel. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One again stars Tom Cruise as IMF agent Ethan Hunt, and the actor continues to put his life on the line in order to deliver the best cinematic experience possible. Does this first part of the franchise finale live up to the hype and provide another classic of the action movie genre?

Here’s what critics are saying about Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One:

How does it compare to the other Mission: Impossible movies?

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is the best Mission: Impossible film yet.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

“This new entry ramps up the excitement and sheer flat-out impressiveness to a new level.” – Todd McCarthy, Deadline Hollywood Daily

“McQuarrie has made the most tactile Mission yet.” – Alex Godfrey, Empire Magazine

“Probably the funniest of the franchise, it tries hard to ensure that you have a good time at the movies.” – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning Part One isn’t quite as dynamic as McQuarrie’s preceding Fallout, but it’s not far off that standout’s pace.” – Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

Dead Reckoning Part One may not be the best movie in the Mission: Impossible franchise — there’s no topping the raw adrenaline rush of Fallout, and McQuarrie is smart enough not to try — but this extravagantly entertaining Dolby soap opera nails what the Mission: Impossible franchise does best.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

“Coming after the series high of 2018’s Fallout, in which McQuarrie found an ideal balance of story, character, and turbocharged spectacle, this aspect of the film, it must be acknowledged, is disappointing.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is as big of a step back from the last two films as its title is overly long. Another mediocre summer blockbuster.” – Kaitlyn Booth, Bleeding Cool

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

Does it up the stakes for the franchise?

“As the beginning of the series’ end game, Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning Part One features genuine stakes.” – Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

Dead Reckoning sometimes strains to live up to the high standards of earlier installments – especially in presenting this latest global threat as even more terrifying than all the ones that came before.” – Tim Grierson, Screen International

Is it better than most action movies, period?

“Few films have come into existence that display so much confidence and conviction in what they’re doing and can follow through with their ideas onscreen virtually without regard to budgetary constraints… This is Hollywood action filmmaking at its peak.” – Todd McCarthy, Deadline Hollywood Daily

“At a moment when nearly every other franchise, from Marvel to Avatar, has embraced the fake look of CG cartoons, Mission: Impossible appears the most practical: So much of what we see really was captured on camera, and that makes all the difference.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

Dead Reckoning Part One transcends anything any other action tentpole can even dream of touching.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Inverse

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One still delivers big-screen spectacle like no other blockbuster this year.” – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)

(Photo by Christian Black/©Paramount Pictures)

So how are those action scenes?

“Damn does Dead Reckoning deliver on the action! I don’t know how these movies keep topping themselves, but they do.” – Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

“There’s a thunderous brawniness (and goofy wit) to the director’s showstoppers, which expertly up the ante, culminating with a massively inventive and suspenseful climax that puts the loco in locomotive.” – Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

“The big chase in the little Fiat puts you so shudderingly close to the action, you feel like you’re being constantly smashed up. Have you ever had whiplash from watching a film before? Brace yourself.” – Alex Godfrey, Empire Magazine

“In terms of action, Cruise and McQuarrie are unsurprisingly in top form… The roughly 20-minute car chase through Vienna is an absolute show-stopper, with twists and turns that’ll have you tossing and turning in your seat with pure adrenaline.” – Rohan Patel,

“The stunts are absolutely fantastic… Cruise and McQuarrie remain a dream team for executing and framing stunts, and they know how to drop you right in the middle of a scene.” – Kaitlyn Booth, Bleeding Cool

“The action sequences are essentially just slick retreads of familiar stunts.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

Dead Reckoning’s set pieces do not quite top what has come before in this franchise.” – Tim Grierson, Screen International

Is there more to love than just the action?

“For as deviously epic as the stunts are, the film also carves out time for intimate moments where the characters’ humanity and relationships shine.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

Dead Reckoning is a bone-shaking reminder that sound is the real secret weapon of the theatrical experience.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)

(Photo by Christian Black/©Paramount Pictures)

How is Tom Cruise this time?

“Tom Cruise once again proves that he is fantastic at what he does.” – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

“Cruise is exceptional at this part — as much credit as he gets for pulling off each amazing stunt, not enough can be said for how good he is at playing an extremely determined guy who is very, very tired.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Inverse

“Cruise is Cruise.” – Kaitlyn Booth, Bleeding Cool

Is Hayley Atwell a good addition to the franchise?

“The film’s MVP is Hayley Atwell, whose double-crossing thief is an inspired addition to the team. Atwell takes to the action like a pro, and has a tense dynamic with Cruise that escalates the stakes in entertaining ways.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Inverse

“Atwell makes a phenomenal addition to the series and is the most consistently engaging actor here.” – Jake Cole, Slant Magazine

“Hayley Atwell is dynamite! Going toe to toe with Cruise, Atwell breathes charisma and a magnetic presence that stands out as one of the best character introductions in the series thus far.” – David Gonzalez, The Cinematic Reel

“Atwell’s a breath of fresh air in the team dynamic, full of effervescence and resourcefulness.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

“Hayley Atwell steals the show with a tour de force performance as Grace. She is a breath of fresh air and turns the franchise on its head with her infinite charm. – Rohan Patel,

“Cruise and Atwell have gangbusters chemistry.” – Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

Tom Cruise and Hayley Atwell in Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)

(Photo by Christian Black/©Paramount Pictures)

How is the film’s overall representation of women characters?

“The women here are sharp, proactive, and intriguing, hardly the sort of tag-along women who generally populated male-oriented action films in the past.” – Todd McCarthy, Deadline Hollywood Daily

“More awesome ladies equals a better movie, and Dead Reckoning Part One might be the best of them all… All of Cruise’s female co-stars bring something different and valuable to Mission: Impossible.” – Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

Dead Reckoning Part One certainly makes the case that the women in Ethan Hunt’s life are far more interesting than Hunt himself.” – Ross Bonaime, Collider

“What doesn’t make sense is watching grown-ass women (proven badasses, at that) sit passively while Ethan attempts to handle the situation. This is the first Mission: Impossible film to pass the Bechdel Test with flying colors, an achievement undercut by these characters’ occasional reduction to objects in service of the story.” – Liz Shannon Miller, Consequence

Does the movie have good villains?

“What the plot does have is a unique and timely villain… Something we haven’t seen yet in a blockbuster. It’s a big swing from McQuarrie and one that makes this mission distinctive.” – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

“The decision to make the bad guy [spoiler redacted] or whatever — with heavy emphasis on the whatever — can’t help but feel a bit like throwing in the towel.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

“[Esai] Morales’ suave villain exudes a serene self-assurance that’s unsettling.” – Tim Grierson, Screen International

“Morales, with a piercing, steely glare and suave silver fox looks, makes for an unrelenting, unflinching foe for Cruise.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

“While Morales’ Gabriel is being set up as the main antagonist in Hunt’s life, there’s little here to make him all that interesting of a villain… As an endgame villain of sorts, Gabriel is fairly underwhelming.” – Ross Bonaime, Collider

“It’s [Gabriel’s] henchwoman played by Pom Klementieff that matches the heightened weirdness that Mission: Impossible has become known for.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Inverse

“Pom Klementieff is the standout of the two villains putting in an absolutely buckwild performance.” – Kaitlyn Booth, Bleeding Cool

Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg in Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)

(Photo by Christian Black/©Paramount Pictures)

What are the film’s biggest issues?

“Much is made of how Ethan’s comrades are targeted in order to get to him, but this has been a common feature of all of the movies in this franchise, and the film isn’t done any favors by his long-standing comrades feeling so bland and dispensable.” – Jake Cole, Slant Magazine

“It’s clear that both Cruise and McQuarrie are incredibly invested in all of this, but they seem to be too invested. They don’t have the heart to cut anything.” – Kaitlyn Booth, Bleeding Cool

“The movie feels like a series of set pieces rather than a complete whole.” – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

Dead Reckoning Part One struggles to come together. The Cold War-esque dread that McQuarrie attempts to conjure results in 70 percent of the film becoming an exposition dump.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Inverse

Does it do enough to stand on its own?

“In comparison to other Part Ones which have come out in recent months (looking very specifically at you, Fast X), Dead Reckoning does manage to feel like a complete film while also still setting up the upcoming Part Two.” – Liz Shannon Miller, Consequence

“This outing may be one-half of a two-part finale, but it gives audiences enough closure to stand on its own, and every reason to expect the last installment will be a corker.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

“It finds a way to concoct a satisfying resolution to its tale even as it sets up its closing 2024 chapter.” – Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

“This first chapter is entertaining enough on its own, hitting a more operatic register than previous pictures.” – Tim Grierson, Screen International

“It’s evident this is constructed as a part one, as there’s a distinct lack of closure.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

“It feels like a feature-film version of holding our breath right before Tom Cruise leaps off that cliff: it’s thrilling stuff, but we’ll have to see where he lands.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Inverse

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)

(Photo by Christian Black/©Paramount Pictures)

Will it leave us excited for Dead Reckoning Part Two?

“It inevitably makes one hope that the overabundance of setup will translate to a second part that sends Ethan into the sunset on a more streamlined and refined note.” – Jake Cole, Slant Magazine

“Now that much of the exposition is out of the way, the field is wide open for the filmmakers to fly it down from cruising altitude and stick the landing.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

“Perhaps this one will seem better once we finally see Part Two; it is always hard to review half a movie, but judging by this half? Perhaps we should lower our expectations quite a bit.” – Kaitlyn Booth, Bleeding Cool

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One opens in theaters everywhere on July 12, 2023.

Thumbnail image by Christian Black/©Paramount Pictures

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