As a spy-action franchise, each installment of the Mission Impossible series acted as a stand-alone movie, and the interconnectivity was displayed through character arcs and some of the recurring side characters, much like the earlier James Bond flicks. After director Christopher McQuarrie reinvented the franchise towards a more action-heavy spectacle, a more linear overarching narrative was added in the form of the villainous Solomon Lane and his terror-for-hire organization, the Apostles, which played a major part in the previous two entries of the movie, Rogue Nation and Fallout.
As the natural progression of the established narrative structure so far, it would have made sense if Solomon Lane returned as an antagonist in the latest release, Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning, as he survived at the end of the last venture. Instead, the seventh movie in the franchise introduces a new villain in the form of a sentient AI named Entity. Keeping in tradition with contemporary big releases, Dead Reckoning leaves plot points to explore in the next part, which is slated to be a direct sequel to this entry, and also leaves the possibility of building on unfinished storylines of previous installments. In this write-up, we would like to discuss the probable route that the next part of Dead Reckoning might take.
Revenge Of Gabriel And The Entity
The major McGuffin that drove the plot of Dead Reckoning forward was the U.S. intelligence-created AI named Entity, which became too powerful due to feeding on a constant surge of information and becoming sentient and self-aware. The first major action it took to ensure its freedom was to imprint its source code in the mainframe of a Russian submarine, Sevastopol, and manipulate the naval officers on board the sub into destroying it. However, the two halves of the key that can unlock the chamber holding the sub’s mainframe get into the hands of different parties, and through a chain of events, Ethan Hunt gains possession of one half and learns about the possible connection of it with the AI.
The AI gets to know about Hunt’s possible assignment about recovering the key, and here comes the intriguing part: unlike his IMF employers and most other nations who want to seize control of the Entity, Ethan quickly becomes convinced the only way to keep this mechanism from jeopardizing global security is to destroy it, which is why he goes rogue. To use the uber-cool spy’s one prime weakness, the Entity selects Gabriel to be his conduit in the physical world. Gabriel was responsible for one of the most tragic events in Ethan’s life, the trauma of which rattles him to this day. Needless to say, with Gabriel in the game, Ethan cannot work at his full potential. Using Gabriel and misdirecting Ethan, the Entity even exacts a personal toll on Ethan by orchestrating the killing of Ilsa Faust, which could have broken Ethan enough to let him snap and kill Gabriel and lose the faintest chance of getting the lead on the AI. But in the end, thanks to his compatriots and his own ingenuity, Ethan manages to trick Gabriel, who he takes the combined key from. The movie ends with Ethan learning about the name ‘Sevastopol’ and, along with Benji, setting off to access whatever the key unlocks. The immediate aftermath of this incident will be the Entity setting Gabriel up to hunt Ethan down before he can take him completely offline.
The White Widow’s Payback
A chief MI franchise character, or legacy in a sense since she has ties with the first Mission Impossible movie as well, White Widow, aka Alanna Mitsopolis, played literally a ‘key’ role in Dead Reckoning as she had the other half of the cruciform key. Alanna wanted to gain the combined key to sell it to the intended buyer, which would have not only let her avail a substantial fortune but also immunity from the Entity itself, as she would have played her part in the Entity’s algorithmic grand plan. That’s why she had previously decided to betray Ethan by letting Gabriel escape. However, using her disguise, Ethan sneaked Grace in the deal happening at Orient Express and stole the key, putting both Alanna’s fortune and fate in peril. Needless to say, in the upcoming sequel the eccentric arms dealer will try to settle scores by going against Ethan and Grace, and will also try to get access to the Entity as well.
IMF Against The Rogue Agent
One of the major revelations of Dead Reckoning was the fact that the former IMF chief/ current CIA head Kittridge himself was the buyer to whom Alanna was going to sell the cruciform key, and the corrupt DNI Denlinger was his handler. The reason Ethan went rogue once again in this venture as well by going against the IMF was that he believed no form of authority was reliable enough to be entrusted with such power. As Denlinger shares the origin of the Entity with Gabriel, we get to know the AI was created by U.S. intelligence, was amped up beyond control, and got free. Too sure of their authority still, Denlinger wanted to make a deal with Gabriel to hand him the key in exchange for full control over the Entity but ended up getting butchered by him. Kittridge, on the other hand, failed in his assignment of getting the key as well, which was stolen by Ethan at the end. The next part will see Ethan being hunted by the IMF agents as well, and perhaps some familiar faces might make a cameo appearance—we are looking at you, William Brandt.
Return Of An Old Enemy
The second part of Dead Reckoning might also feature the return of a fan-favorite nemesis, who was the only villain to appear in two consecutive entries. We are talking about the former leader of the global terrorism group Apostles, the rogue MI6 agent Solomon Lane, whose plan of changing the world order through sporadic acts of terrorism has been thwarted by Hunt and his team twice now, leading to his incarceration. The entry of Lane in the struggle to access Entity will be a critical challenge for Ethan, and the ruthless villain will be looking to settle his score against Benji as well, with whom he shares a personal enmity of sorts.