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Is Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One Just T3: Rise Of The Machines?

Contains spoilers for "Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One"

Upon watching "Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One," viewers may be impressed with how topical the movie is. The film opens with a sequence involving a torpedo blowing up a Russian submarine, which seems sadly relevant given the Titan submersible implosion. And the big bad of the new "Mission: Impossible" is a sentient AI system every world power wants to control. Artificial intelligence is becoming more prominent in the real world, with some believing it could replace jobs from coders to screenwriters ... if not wipe out humanity entirely. 

AI has long been an antagonistic force in science-fiction movies, so it's easy to draw comparisons between "Dead Reckoning Part One" and other films of its ilk. However, it's noteworthy how similar the plots are between Tom Cruise's latest and "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines." Both action movies deal with self-aware AI systems and protagonists who must go to a specific location to avert the apocalypse. In "Mission: Impossible," Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team travel the world before learning they have to bring the key to the sunken submarine from the film's opening. In "Terminator 3," John Connor (Nick Stahl) and Kate Brewster (Claire Danes) must go to Mexico, but they soon learn they're not destined to stop Skynet, only to survive as the machines take over. 

Both movies follow characters who want to shut down an overzealous AI system before it's too late, touching upon real-world fears about what could happen if humanity creates something smarter than itself. But could the ending of "Rise of the Machines" hint at what's to come in "Dead Reckoning Part Two?"

Will Ethan Hunt actually succeed in destroying the AI?

The basic plots of "Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One" and "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" may be similar. But will they have the same outcomes? 

In "Terminator 3," the storyline of getting to Mexico to find a way to stop Skynet ends up being a false narrative. There's no way for them to stop Judgment Day; it's going to come sooner or later. The mission was merely to get to the nuclear fallout shelter so that John and Kate would survive. It's a bleak ending that lives up to the film's title with just a glimmer of hope that humankind can defeat the machines someday. While it's unlikely "Dead Reckoning" will devolve into using cyborgs, it's possible the conclusion of "Part Two" won't be exactly what Ethan Hunt wants. 

Ethan wants to use the key to destroy The Entity. Gabriel and every world power on Earth want to obtain the key so that they can be the ones to control it, meaning they'll get to decide what most of humanity sees as "real." What if neither party gets what they want? Ethan may also engage in a false narrative where it turns out he's unable to destroy the AI, but it's unlikely the bad guy would end up winning in the end. One probability is that The Entity will take on a somewhat similar journey as Skynet. It's impossible to stop, but instead of sending the world into the apocalypse, the AI may simply exist online as its own being, unable or unwilling to partake in affairs of the physical world. 

There are many open-ended questions when it comes to using AI in the real world, and "Dead Reckoning Part Two" may follow in that vein where the protagonist doesn't fully win or fully lose.