Franchise fatigue is here to stay and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. In recent weeks, Transformers, Indiana Jones, Fast and Furious, DC, and Disney’s live-action remakes have all been derailed in different ways. Seen as the safest of bets in all of Hollywood even before the pandemic, reboots and sequels were all the rage but audiences’ appetites are changing, and, as such, many of the “top guns” are floundering. That sly pun was intentional, of course, for there is one franchise, bar last summer’s juggernaut of aerobatic wonder, which is perhaps the only one that shows no sign of slowing down – and that’s the OTHER one led by one Tom Cruise. And for good reason.

The predecessor to the new adventure, Mission: Impossible – Fallout was both the biggest  and the most acclaimed (there aren’t many who don’t consider it the best) so why stop there?! Well, Cruise isn’t getting any younger, no matter what his physicians of the brain might say, but when audiences and critics are as one, maybe there’s some fire left for one last go-around. Enter the mammoth task of Dead Reckoning, a two-film finale for Ethan Hunt and IMF (though, of course, money talks) that will be similarly globe-trotting but one that again tells of the greatest fears of the world today, one that actually hits a raw nerve with the industry and its current mutual enemy: A.I.

Of course, been many films of such an ilk that have tackled the advancements in our day-to-day – The Terminator, Blade Runner, Ex Machina to name a few – but rarely has touched such a nerve. Telling tales of the impending, dark future we may face, only adds to the usual eclectic mix of action, daring dos, masked fun, and spy shenanigans that Cruise and his now true partner-in-crime Christopher McQuarrie (now on his third mission) have down to a T. If it all feels a little similar to the previous installments, you’d perhaps be right but when the case for “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is so strong, why mess with the best? Car chases, motorcycles, global espionage, lots of running, and the usual “bunch of grown men playing Trick or Treat” are all on show but such is the brilliance with which this partnership – and the thousands who help them along the way – performs, we almost don’t want it to end.

Breathless throughout, Dead Reckoning Part One does everything you’d expect but all to the highest possible degree with every small detail as important as the biggest, the usual explosive action and thrills as well as more of a playfulness to proceedings that adds another new dimension to an already breath-taking construction. Cruise, as ever, delivers as only he can and, while the craziness is dialled down a little in favour of more dialogue-led exposition, there’s still plenty for him to get his hands on again, especially that spectacular cliff jump which is just as awesome as anything he’s ever done. Add to the mix the usual excellent support from Pegg, Ferguson, Rhames, and Kirby, as well as Atwell’s superb new addition and the return of the always droll sardonics of Henry Czerny’s Kittridge, there’s a bounty to feast upon once more.

If it stumbles slightly it’s more to do with its true two-part narrative with secrets and lies surely to be revealed in Part Two, but for now, there’s now much more to say than the mission, as ever, is unlike any other, and why, as ever, it still rules the franchise kingdom.