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Mission Impossible 7: Dead Reckoning

Grand action set pieces, but the A.I. threat is not defined very clearly.

Tom Cruise and his production team must have planned on stellar international box office because certain segments of the film feature slowed-down dialogue, repetition and pretty extensive exposition to make sure we (the international audience, many of whom would be enjoying the film with subtitles) understand what's going on and who the bad guys are.

It is a legitimate concern, since the story has a blurry overlap between the activities of the United States government and it's various agents and the bad guys, and in some ways there's no real difference. Further, as we go along into the tale which features a deadly entity called, you guessed it, The Entity, there's no difference between the USA gov't and all the other governments of the world, and like the power of the "one ring" in Tolkein's Lord of the Rings, the power of The Entity brings about moral compromise, except, well, not with the heroes of the Mission Impossible team.

All of that aside, MI7 is an action film with extended sequences featuring imaginative races, chases, and a lot of hand to hand combat and a wrecking train sequence that made me think Buster Keaton level acrobatics (as the train sequence began, I thought to myself: oh, no, not another Bullet Train rip-off, but the MI7 version is definitely not that).

What's all the trouble about? A sunken Russian submarine with a malignant A. I. technology aboard has set into motion a number of self-protective and world conquering plans, and Tom Cruise's character of Ethan Hunt must team up with a reluctant Hayley Atwell who is super-thief "Grace" in order to overcome the A.I's machinations and the machine's human agent, bad guy Gabriel (Esai Morales).

Since this is a two-part story, Dead Reckoning Part One doesn't show any triumph of the good guys over the bad guys, and in fact it is still in the process of sorting out the two sides as the film ends.

The letdown in this movie is that the A.I.. is generic and, like a classic horror film, leaves a lot undefined, presumably so the audience can fill in the gaps with whatever they happen to think the dangers of A.I. technology are, thus making a "monster" that is more personal and threatening. But, The Entity, the dangerous A.I. we're supposed to be worrying about, is too vague, though performing amazing tricks over the internet and in computerized devices, and it could just as well be tricks being performed by a human being sitting at a keyboard. Perhaps Part Two will bring in a view of A.I. characteristics that gets beyond this.

There's not been a better tooled action film in 2023 that I've yet seen and the hum-drum box office for MI7 is a bit of a surprise, but at the same time it is a title that got swamped with competing big-budget, heavily marketed films that also came out over this summer, and then just after MI7 went into theaters, along came the double-whammy of Barbie and Oppenheimer which together flattened everything in their path.

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Original Page July 16, 2023