The latest installment in this blockbuster espionage series shares some of the same assets and liabilities as Indiana Jones: The Dial of Destiny, but this one scores higher in my tally because it’s better paced, funnier, and genuinely exciting. Tom Cruise is still Tom Cruise, and there’s nothing wrong with that, especially when he breaks into a run. No other movie star, past or present, can run the way he does, with every fiber of his being. What’s more, you know he’s really doing it, which is more than I can say for some stunt scenes where you can actually tell you’re being hoodwinked.
As much as the film centers on Cruise, it’s the implacable IMF team (first introduced in the 1960s TV series, along with Lalo Schifrin’s theme music) that sets it apart from other action yarns. Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, and Rebecca Ferguson are welcome sights and anchor the picture along with Cruise. Writer-turned writer-director Christopher McQuarrie and his new collaborator Erik Jendersen have fashioned a serviceable McGuffin—a super-secret weapon that mustn’t fall into the wrong hands—and a series of breathtaking set-pieces to maintain momentum from one sequence to the next. There are hair-raising chases and moments of great suspense. Their script utilizes everything from cutting-edge AI technology (like video facial recognition) to the tried-and-true use of a railroad train.
But MI:DR:1 is infected with the disease that plagues so many post-Covid movies: they don’t know when to quit. That this film should clock in at 2 hours and 43 minutes is absurd. I daresay no one would feel shortchanged if it only ran two hours. I would even consider paying a bonus for a ticket to any epic-scale film that ran less than 120 minutes. Not that running-time is any way to judge a movie, but an audience that has been entertained, and not exhausted, might be happier overall; I know I would.