This summer, Tom Cruise is back on the big screen as the international spy/adrenaline junkie Ethan Hunt for the seventh (but not final) Mission: Impossible flick, this one subtitled Dead Reckoning, Part One. (Part Two comes out in June 2024.)

Back in 1996, probably very few movie buffs would have expected such an enduring franchise to emerge from the original Mission: Impossible releases.

In the 26 years since Brian De Palma’s espionage thriller first exploded onto the silver screen, we’ve seen five sequels and witnessed a film series that has proven to be just about Hollywood’s slickest action film series ever.

Christopher McQuarrie, now in charge of writing, directing, and producing, helmed the previous two Mission: Impossible blockbusters, Fallout and Rogue Nation.

Paramount’s recently released movie trailer revealed little about Dead Reckoning’s central premise but did showcase the high-octane stunts that we’ve looked forward to over the years.

There are three main action set pieces here. One is a smash-’em-up 20-minute car chase through Venice, Italy. Another is when Cruise and his latest antagonist have a fight atop a high-speed train.

But we experience the primary head-spinner when Cruise ramps off a mountain cliff on a motorcycle before jumping off and opening a parachute.

Cruise, who turns 61 this month, has admitted that this last feat was by far the most dangerous he has ever attempted. (He performs nearly all his own stunts.) To prepare, he endured 500 hours of skydiving training, made 1,300 practice motorcycle jumps, and ran through his paces six times before filming.

Cruise is joined by a fine supporting cast, which includes Ving Rhames as tech wizard Luther Stickwell, Simon Pegg as fellow field agent Benji Dunn, and Rebecca Ferguson as former M16 operative Ilsa Faust.

Esai Morales, best-remembered as Ritchie Valens’s half-brother in the biopic La Bamba, takes on the role of the new primary bad guy.

Henry Czerny’s character of Eugene Kittredge, a former Impossible Missions Force director whom we haven’t seen since the first Mission: Impossible nearly three decades ago, plays a major role in connecting the dots to Hunt’s legendary past.

Film locales include Italy, Norway, the Middle East, and England.

McQuarrie got his movie title from a particular deadly source that poses the greatest threat yet to Ethan Hunt and his team.

“‘Dead reckoning’ is a navigational term,” explains McQuarrie. “It means you’re picking a course based solely on your last known position … There are many things emerging from Ethan’s past.”

He pauses, smiles, and then decides to explain nothing further.

The action begins on July 12.


Randal C. Hill enjoys getting sneak peeks of forthcoming movies from his home on the Oregon coast. He can be reached at

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