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Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One And Two - What We Know So Far

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Tom Cruise first donned his Ethan Hunt persona back in 1996, when he teamed up with director Brian De Palma for "Mission: Impossible." The film was the third highest-grossing movie of the year, and it kickstarted a franchise that's still going strong to this day. Since then, we've seen Cruise climb the Burj Khalifa, hang onto the side of an airplane, skydive from 25,000 feet, and run and run and run. Ethan Hunt does a whole lot of running.

Now, Cruise is gearing up for his biggest mission yet. In fact, this mission is so impossible that it's been split into two separate films: "Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One" and "Part Two." From everything we've heard, these two films are seriously raising the stakes for our beloved Impossible Missions Force (IMF) agent, and they'll test the limits of both the daredevil character and the A-list actor who plays him. But what's the plot of these films? Who's joining Ethan Hunt on his adventures? And is this Tom Cruise's last time putting on those incredibly life-like masks?

Well, if you want answers, read on for everything we know so far about "Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One" and "Part Two."

When will Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One and Part Two be released?

The latest two installments in the "Mission: Impossible" franchise have had quite the time getting to theater screens. Originally, the first action flick was supposed to release on July 23, 2021. Then it was moved to November 19, 2021. And then it was pushed over to May 27, 2022. And then it was pushed back to September 30, 2022. Finally, it found its new (and hopefully final) release date on July 14, 2023.

So what's with all the release date shuffling? Well, a lot of that has to do with the coronavirus pandemic, which shuttered Hollywood for a bit and majorly affected filming for the "Dead Reckoning" movies. Production was shut down in February 2020 (via Variety), so it's kind of understandable that Tom Cruise famously lost his cool in December 2020, when production started again and some people on the set weren't following COVID protocols.

The film's release date was also affected by "Top Gun: Maverick" (via Deadline), with Paramount Pictures bumping "Dead Reckoning Part One" off its May release date to make way for Pete "Maverick" Mitchell and his fighter jets. But never fear, the first film will finally hit theaters on July 14, 2023, with "Part Two" following on June 28, 2024 (via Rolling Stone).

What is the plot of the Dead Reckoning movies?

The folks making the "Dead Reckoning" movies have done a pretty great job of keeping the story under lock and key. While a pretty cool trailer was released for the first film, it was much bigger on vibes and visuals than actually revealing plot details. However, it does seem like the stakes will be huge — possibly existentially huge, as Henry Czerny's Eugene Kittridge tells Ethan Hunt, "Your days of fighting for the so-called greater good are over. This is our chance to control the truth, the concepts of right and wrong, for everyone for centuries to come."

Outside of that, Variety has reported the first film will end with a pretty massive cliffhanger. As for the movies' enigmatic yet intimidating title, writer/director Christopher McQuarrie told the "Light the Fuse" podcast (via ComicBook.com) that "Dead Reckoning" refers more to the events of the second film than the first. So it seems that the first installment of this duology will be setting up some major stakes and that the second installment will be quite the massive payoff.

We also expect things to get pretty emotional for every major character in the film, such as Rebecca Ferguson's Ilsa Faust and Simon Pegg's Benji Dunn. "When we went into making 'Fallout,'" McQuarrie explained to The Hollywood Reporter, "I said to Tom [Cruise], 'I really want to make this more of an emotional journey for [Cruise's character Ethan Hunt]. Going into this, I said, 'I want to take what we learned from 'Fallout' and apply it to every character in the movie. I want everyone to have an emotional arc. ... I just want the movie to have more feelings across the board."

Who is starring in the two Mission: Impossible films?

When it comes to casting talented actors, the "Mission: Impossible" movies spare no expense. After all, they're helmed by the biggest movie star alive: Tom Cruise. In addition to the A-lister reprising his role as the unstoppable Ethan Hunt, "Dead Reckoning" will see the return of Simon Pegg as tech wizard Benji Dunn, Rebecca Ferguson as the deadly Ilsa Faust, and Ving Rhames as hacker Luther Stickell, the only character who's appeared in every "Mission: Impossible" film aside from Ethan. 

Additionally, expect the return of Vanessa Kirby, who previously appeared in "Fallout" as the notorious White Widow. Plus, Henry Czerny will return as Eugene Kittridge, who featured in a rather explosive scene in the original "Impossible" film. Then there's Angela Bassett as CIA director Erika Sloane. In July 2021, the actress told Collider that COVID-19 had kept her out of "Part One," but according to ComicBookMovie.com, it looks she'll reprise the role in "Part Two."

As for newcomers, "Dead Reckoning Part One" will star Hayley Atwell of "Agent Carter" fame, Pom Klementieff of the "Guardians of the Galaxy" franchise, and Cary Elwes of "The Princess Bride." You can also expect to see legendary character actor Shea Whigham, Mark Gatiss of "Sherlock," Indira Varma of "Game of Thrones," and beloved comedian Rob Delaney (via Deadline). Perhaps most importantly, Esai Morales — who you may recognize as Camino del Rio from "Ozark" or Lt. Tony Rodriguez from "NYPD Blue" — will star as the film's big bad guy (via Variety).

You can expect most of those names to return for "Dead Reckoning Part Two," along with a few additional faces. Holt McCallany of "Mindhunter" will show up for the sequel, playing the secretary of defense. He'll be accompanied by Janet McTeer (a two-time Oscar nominee who you may recognize as the cartel lawyer from "Ozark") and the one and only Ron Swanson himself, Nick Offerman (via Collider).

Who is directing Dead Reckoning Part One and Two?

The "Mission: Impossible" movies have boasted some true auteurs, such as Brian De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams, and Brad Bird. However, until "Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation," each installment had been helmed by a different filmmaker. But starting with the fifth film, directing duties have gone to Christopher McQuarrie, who also worked on "Fallout" and both "Dead Reckoning" movies.

McQuarrie and Tom Cruise evidently have great rapport. In addition to directing the star on four "Mission: Impossible" movies, McQuarrie also oversaw the actor on "Jack Reacher" and helped write movies like "Edge of Tomorrow," "Valkyrie," and "Top Gun: Maverick." Before becoming one of Cruise's big collaborators, McQuarrie was probably best known for writing "The Usual Suspects." And with the man sitting in the director's seat again, we have ridiculously high hopes for both "Dead Reckoning" movies, and we're sure that McQuarrie and Cruise will be able to scale those high hopes with ease.

Is there a trailer for Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One?

"Dead Reckoning Part One" has yet to hit theaters, so there isn't a trailer for the 2024 sequel. But there is a pretty incredible teaser for the first installment. As it opens, Henry Czerny's Eugene Kittridge tells Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt that the very nature of truth, right, and wrong are on the line. "You need to pick a side," he whispers menacingly. And when we cut to Ethan Hunt, he doesn't look like he's about to play ball with his old nemesis.

We then watch as Hunt and his IMF team travel the world (this movie was filmed all across the globe, ranging from the U.K. to Italy to Abu Dhabi), traversing everything from forbidding deserts to major cities to gorgeous forests. We watch Cruise and Hayley Atwell engage in some sort of car chase, with both trying to make their escape in a yellow Volkswagen Beetle. We see Rebecca Ferguson get into a battle of blades with Esai Morales' villain, and we watch a very dangerous Pom Klementieff head-butt Ethan Hunt in the face.

Then there's an old-timey train, which promises to be a huge set piece in the film. The trailer involves several shots of this locomotive, and near the end of the trailer, we see it being involved in a pretty impressive stunt. That's followed up by what promises to be the highlight moment of the film, as Ethan Hunt jumps a motorcycle off the side of a cliff.

Is Tom Cruise leaving Mission: Impossible after the Dead Reckoning movies?

For a long time now, the word has been that after "Dead Reckoning Part One" and "Part Two," Tom Cruise will be handing in his IMF badge and retiring the role of Ethan Hunt. That's what sources like Variety have reported, anyway. However, director Christopher McQuarrie has responded to these claims, implying that Cruise isn't done with the role but not straight-up confirming whether Ethan Hunt is coming back or not.

As the director said to the "Light the Fuse" podcast (via British GQ), "Let me tell you, I've been working with Tom Cruise for 15 years, and I cannot tell you the number of times I've been standing next to the man, witnessed an event, and then read about it in the trades the next day, and none of what they describe is actually true." So it sounds like Cruise probably isn't done with the role? Probably? It seems we'll have to wait until the end of "Dead Reckoning Part Two" to find out for sure.

What Ethan Hunt stunts can we expect in Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One and Part Two?

Yes, we love the chemistry between Ethan Hunt and his IMF buddies. And yes, the fight scenes are always amazing, and we do love all the espionage and intrigue and realistic face masks. But come on, the main reason we're all so crazy about the "Mission: Impossible" franchise is because of the stunts, all involving Tom Cruise himself. The franchise has continually upped the intensity and the danger of these stunts, with the star putting himself in harm's way for our enjoyment and box office dollars.

Keeping true to the "Mission: Impossible" tradition, both "Dead Reckoning" movies will feature some mind-blowing set pieces. For example, we know "Part One" will feature an epic train crash, and thanks to photos taken at the production site (via RailAdvent), we know that Tom Cruise will be on top of the locomotive at some point during the scene. The train also features pretty prominently in the trailer for "Dead Reckoning Part One," so we expect it to be a highlight of the movie.

We also know that Tom Cruise will jump off the side off a cliff while riding a motorcycle. Speaking with Empire Online, Cruise explained this was an incredibly dangerous stunt, saying, "If the wind was too strong, it would blow me off the ramp. ... Or if I departed in a weird way, we didn't know what was going to happen with the bike. I had about six seconds once I departed the ramp to pull the chute, and I don't want to get tangled in the bike." As you might expect, it took Cruise months to prep for this scene.

We can also expect some impressive aerial action for "Part Two." Famously, Cruise appeared in a CinemaCon video to promote "Top Gun: Maverick," where he was standing atop a World War II-era biplane. As it turns out, he was on the plane in the first place to shoot a stunt for "Dead Reckoning Part Two" (via Collider). Why Ethan Hunt is standing on an old-timey plane 2,000 feet in the air, we're not sure ... but we can't wait to find out in 2024. 

Where to watch the previous Mission: Impossible movies

Before "Dead Reckoning Part One" hits theaters on July 14, 2023, it might be a good idea to brush up on your IMF knowledge with the previous installments in the series.

If you want to go back to where it all began, the original 1996 "Mission: Impossible" is available to stream on Paramount+. You can also rent it for $2.99 on Google Play, YouTube, and Vudu, as well as $3.99 on Apple iTunes. It might be a good idea to watch Ethan Hunt's first adventure as the character of Eugene Kittridge will be drying off his suit to make an appearance in the "Dead Reckoning Part One," which is the first time we've seen him since the '96 installment.

If you're in the mood for the slo-mo, dove-flying, rock-climbing stylings of director John Woo, you can stream "Mission: Impossible" II on Paramount+. You can also rent it for $3.99 on Apple iTunes, or you can spend $2.99 to watch it on Google Play, YouTube, and Vudu.

If you'd rather see Hunt face his most memorable adversary in the franchise, Philip Seymour Hoffman's Owen Davian, you can find "Mission: Impossible III" on Google Play, YouTube, and Vudu (where you'll pay $2.99) or on Apple iTunes ($3.99).

Tom Cruise does perhaps his craziest stunt in "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol," where he scales the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. You can stream that wild scene on Paramount+ and Freeve, or you can spend $2.99 to rent it on Google Play, YouTube, and Vudu or $3.99 on Apple iTunes.

Then we enter the Christopher McQuarrie era of the franchise with "Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation." If you're new to the series or haven't seen the films in a while, you'll definitely want to check this one out, as it introduces Rebecca Ferguson's assassin, Ilsa Faust, and pivots the franchise in a new, grittier direction. This one is available on Paramount +, or you can rent it for $3.99 on Apple iTunes or $2.99 on Google Play, YouTube, and Vudu.

Finally, there's "Mission: Impossible — Fallout," which is the last film before "Dead Reckoning Part One." Here, Ethan Hunt goes skydiving, gets involved in the best fistfight in the franchise, teams up with Superman himself, and pilots a helicopter. Stream all the action on Paramount+, rent it for $2.99 on Google Play, YouTube, and Vudu, or spend $3.99 to watch in on Apple iTunes.