‘Mission Impossible’ Recap: Everything To Know Before Dead Reckoning Part 1

Visual media in its very basic form depends on spectacle, and coming up with innovative ways of exploring the limitless possibilities of showcasing it is what challenges filmmakers time and time again. When it comes to the spy-action genre of media, there is no shortage of well-made, iconic movie franchises, but that has never seemed to become a hindrance for the Mission Impossible franchise to stand out amidst the cutthroat competition. The major reason for that is the adherence to the precepts of spectacle.

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Spawning out of the 1966 hit espionage TV series of the same name, the Mission Impossible movie series starring Tom Cruise is regarded as one of the best movie franchises of the modern era. In an era when big-budget movies have become dependent on crossover and nostalgia baits to rake in easy money, the MI franchise remains the most exceptional in swerving away from the tropes, instead amplifying the stakes of each movie through an increasingly ambitious, hands-on approach—close to the old-school era of filmmaking. Needless to say, the honest efforts, untarnished by studio and executive meddling, have paid off massively, amazed viewers with the franchise’s capacity to reinvent itself in each installment, and turned it into a hallmark of filmmaking. With the upcoming 7th part of the franchise, Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One, releasing tomorrow in theaters worldwide, let’s take a look at the narrative so far.

Spoilers Ahead

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Ethan Hunt And The IMF

The chief protagonist of the franchise, the master spy Ethan Hunt’s exploits to save the world from man-made global catastrophes and seemingly unsalvageable situations are the focal point of each entry of the franchise. A former army ranger, Ethan is extremely skilled in tactics, combat, and every other discipline of warfare and espionage and is a veteran member and team leader of the shadowy organization that conducts high-risk international espionage missions, known as the Impossible Missions Force (IMF). More than his ground skills as a spy, Hunt’s exhilarating, death-defying escapades shaped his popularity among the audience, which has been pushed to its limits since the first appearance of the character in Mission: Impossible (1996). Although Hunt has been compared to contemporary fictional covert operatives like James Bond and Jason Bourne, his characterization veers more towards the direction of the ‘perfect man’ archetype. Through the progression of the series, Ethan Hunt’s emotional growth has been charted, making him a character the audience chooses to root for not simply because he is the protagonist but also due to his relatability.

The covert organization IMF orchestrates particular kinds of missions on behalf of the United States government, the kind of high-stakes assignments that cannot be handled in a conventional way through established secret agencies, militaries, or political influence. Utilizing the top spies, state-of-the-art gadgets, and advanced arsenal at their disposal, the IMF has been instrumental since the 1940s in the implementation of several deep state policies, essentially contributing to several history-altering events. However, the secrecy of the organization itself is of seminal importance, which, if compromised, will result in its demise. Ironically enough, most of the time, the IMF’s former agents turn out to be the most hostile threat to the secrecy of the organization, and a number of movies in the series cast the rogue agents as the prime adversaries.

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The Missions So Far

Since the last two and a half decades, viewers have seen Ethan Hunt undertake inconceivably high-stakes missions along with his IMF team. Fresh off being recruited into the IMF in Mission: Impossible (1996), Ethan is assigned the mission of preventing the leakage of confidential data, which goes horribly wrong as all his associate IMF members get killed. All except him, which leads to the agency considering him to be the mole, resulting in his being disavowed. Ethan finds out his IMF senior, Jim Phelps (the protagonist of the TV series adaptation), was the rogue agent all along. After a prolonged game of con and chase, Phelps and his associate die. Ethan succeeds in his mission by securing the data, which allows him to be reinstated and promoted to leading agent.

In the second part, Ethan yet again faces another rogue IMF agent in the form of Sean Ambrose, who seeks to cause a global pandemic with a fabricated chimera virus in order to profit from the cure that is at his disposal. Hunt manages to take down Ambrose at the end, all the while stopping the possibility of a viral outbreak. The third Mission Impossible movie turns out to be one of the most personal in tone, as a retired and married Ethan Hunt is forced to partake in yet another mission to recover a bio-weapon from a deadly arms dealer named Owen Davian. Enacting a scenario of orchestrating his wife Julia’s death (which was a ruse), Owen almost breaks Ethan mentally, and Ethan himself momentarily dies due to his machinations. However, in the end, Julia and Ethan are reunited after foiling Owen’s plan and taking him down.

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Starting with the fourth movie in the MI franchise, Ghost Protocol, the series took a departure from some of the key espionage convergence aspects and adopted a more action-heavy, suave approach in depicting the adventures of the super-spy. The fourth movie also introduced the terrorist organization ‘The Syndicate,’ which became the IMF’s prime adversary in the fifth entry, Rogue Nation. Both the fifth and sixth entries of the franchise, Rogue Nation and the latest, Fallout, are directed by Christopher McQuarrie, and the series’ only recurring antagonist, Ethan’s arch-enemy, the rogue MI6 agent Solomon Lane, plays a prominent role in both these movies as the leader of The Syndicate (now turned into The Apostles).


What Can Be Expected From ‘Dead Reckoning Part One’?

As the trailers have already showcased, the upcoming mission, which is hinted at as bringing back the ghosts of Ethan’s past, might be his toughest one to date. An agent played by Esai Morales is revealed to be one of Ethan’s past associates, whose affiliation to an all-powerful organization is seeking to change the world by using an information-manipulating device of some sort. At the same time, Solomon Lane is still at large, and he will most probably return to settle the scores after being thwarted twice by Ethan’s IMF. Christopher McQuarrie is reprising his directorial role, and a sequel to Dead Reckoning has already been scheduled for a 2024 release date. Needless to say, whatever the outcome turns out to be in this entry will entail prolonged consequences, which will only get entangled in the eighth movie of the franchise.


Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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