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In 20 years, Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning will either be an archaic, fear mongering piece of vintage media – like Virtuosity and The Net – or dead on accurate and we’ll all be too dead to realize it due to the great computerized AI rebellion. Fun times ahead, regardless.

There are intriguing layers to Dead Reckoning, even if they’re swallowed by the script’s overbearing, 160-minute girth. Envisioning a near future scenario, rogue AI aims to start wars, finds a cult-like follower, and uses false propaganda to manipulate the population. In other words, things we do perfectly fine on our own as humans, but now performed with a hard drive.

Car chases, boat rides, sunsets, terrorists; Mission Impossible hasn’t changed

The seventh Mission Impossible to date (and an eighth on the way), diminishing returns proves itself law. We’ve seen Tom Cruise sprint through exotic locales and on rooftops. We’ve seen him parachute, fall, and land – sometimes painfully. Car chases, boat rides, sunsets, terrorists; Mission Impossible hasn’t changed.

Dead Reckoning isn’t without fresh ideas. A car chase puts Cruise in a vehicle with new co-star Hayley Atwell, the two debating who should drive through familiar, tight confines. The clever twist finds them handcuffed to one another, making that decision a comically difficult one. Much is made of Cruise’s willingness to defy reason and try truthfully death-defying stunts without digital assistance.

All of this work is diminished though because audiences never truly know if a background is real or CG, if Cruise is there or green screened. Promotional materials tell us, but in the moment, it’s impossible to see past the trickery, making Cruise’s work less prominent than it deserves. That’s not Cruise’s fault, nor does it diminish his work, but it saps the wow factor when in the moment. It’s as if the computers already won, AI or not.

But, this is pure Hollywood, with a story about distrust in government leadership, future technologies, and near superheroes saving us from certain destruction. Dead Reckoning’s broad application of AI, as a central hub able to infect every electronic device, veers into sci-fi territory, near to the point of Indiana Jones surviving a nuclear blast in absurdity. When it matters though, and characters fight, shoot, and kill over the single key that can end this, Dead Reckoning knows how to thrill, and a physical brawl on top of a speeding train is the best of action cinema. That’s the final impression, which is wise leading into a direct sequel. That’s what audiences need to remember most, not the sometimes plodding material that preceded it.


A mixture of digital and 65mm cinematography, Paramount’s encode stutters. Notably, a sandstorm early on where the simulated grain causes hiccups, as does a smoke bomb. Compression is visible, albeit to limited fault. Generally, Dead Reckoning doesn’t pose any major concerns visually aside from the messy added grain, which is a constant. It’s worse in some places than others, but always on the thicker and obnoxious side.

Dolby Vision adds a satisfying punch. It’s bold, with bright highlights and dense black levels. Depth shines throughout. Strong color brings vibrancy to a Italian club scene, and countless others.

Sharp but then sharper (during IMAX footage), overall resolution is impressive. Texture and definition both excel. Facial detail looks spectacular in close.


The opening scene takes place onboard a Russian submarine, with all of the mesmerizing audio design that comes with. Surrounding waters bring ambiance, and an eventual attack blasts the low-end spectacularly. Dead Reckoning spares nothing in terms of range, the thickness, the boldness, the intensity all stunning. It’s difficult to pick a single scene, because all of them reach reference grade. A sandstorm is masterful. Plane engines shake the theater. Club music can rattle an entire home. Coal power makes a train sound as if it’s in the room.

Surrounds and heights play at a near constant rate. Directionality sweeps vehicles, bullets, wind, and more through every speaker. Even with the exceptionally wide range, Dead Reckoning doesn’t lose dialog or smaller pieces of the action design.


Director Christopher McQuarrie and editor Eddie Hamilton provide commentary alongside the 4K presentation. The bonus Blu-ray also contains a six-part making-of, running around 30-minutes total. It’s fine material, informative too, but otherwise typical and brief.

Mission Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One
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Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning is among the least memorable of the MI films, but contains a handful of stellar stunt sequences to make itself worthwhile.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 46 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:

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