(director/writer: Christopher McQuarrie; screenwriter: Erik Jendressen; cinematographer: Fraser Taggart; editor: Eddie Hamilton; music: Lorne Balfe; cast: Tom Cruise (Ethan Hunt), Hayley Atwell (Grace), Ving Rhames (Luther Stickell), Simon Pegg (Benji Dunn), Rebecca Ferguson (Ilsa Faust), Vanessa Kirby (The White Widow), Esai Morales (Gabriel), Pom Klementieff (Paris), Mariela Garriga (Maria), Henry Czerny (Kittridge), Shea Whigman (Briggs), Greg Tarzan Davis (Degas), Charles Parnell (NRO), Frederick Schmidt (Zola), Cary Elwes (Denlinger), Mark Gatiss (NSA), Indira Varma (DIA), Rob Delaney (JSOC); Runtime: 163; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Tom Cruse/Christopher McQuarrie; Paramount Pictures; 2023)

“Well-executed thriller that’s all spectacle and no substance.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A franchise inspired by a TV program from the 1960s that is rolling in money and acclaim. In this well-executed thriller that’s all spectacle and no substance, the writer/director Christopher McQuarrie (“Jack Reacher”/”The Way of the Gun”), the director in his third time at the helm for the Mission Impossible series, does his usual competent job. The fun is in the action scenes and in determining what is real or fake (the silliness of people suspiciously tugging at people’s faces to see if they are for real or made of rubber). Erik Jendressen is the co-writer of a story that leaves a lot to be desired. But most viewers of this franchise care only about the action and the plot is only secondary. The action is pumped to the nines. This is the seventh installment, with a part two to follow in June 2024.

The dangerous mission for the Impossible Mission Force (IMF) agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), the super-spy, is given him by his usual shadowy CIA contact, Kittridge (Henry Czerny), as he partners with the quirky Benji (Simon Pegg), his main man Luther (Ving Rhames) and, the ex-MI6 agent, Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson), to find the other half of a cruciform key operating to control the state-of-art new AI weapon “The Entity,” which is a cyber threat and a threat to destroy humanity. The Entity has the ability to invade all the world’s operating systems.
Ethan’s rival Gabriel (Esai Morales) also badly wants the key.

Vanessa Kirby returns as the arms dealer called the White Widow who had a fling with Ethan in the last film. Pom Klementieff is the daring martial-arts expert intent on bringing down Ethan to please his nemesis Gabriel. While the English cold-fish Hayley Atwell plays Grace, a criminal who hooks up with Ethan and his team.
In the opening sequence we see that the cryptic device is concealed in the doomed Russian submarine called Sebastopol, that is sunk undetected somewhere below the ice in the Arctic Circle. 

Tom Cruise, at 61, again does his own daredevil stunts. In this one he does a motorbike jump in which he 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 did it six times to get the right shot.

If that’s not enough, another one of Cruise’s daring stunts has him board a speeding train right before the Kylling Bridge on Rauma Railway is blown up.

The escapist films of the franchise never overwhelmed me with its storytelling, but I can appreciate this film’s craftsmanship and how difficult a picture it is to make, and that it’s a fun film that an audience gets off on. And I can also appreciate that it makes the effort to put out a good product.