Friday Film Roundup: Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One, Theater Camp, and More

EntertainmentBy 2023-09-08T16:52:46-04:00July 14th, 2023|
  • Credit: Paramount Pictures

We’re back to the blockbusters and this one isn’t like any of the others, mostly because it stars Tom Cruise. The “Mission: Impossible” franchise is undeniably one of the most impressive collections of action films ever made, thanks to Cruise’s refusal to compromise. The latest and penultimate installment, “Dead Reckoning, Part One,” continues the trend of having Cruise one-up himself with each subsequent film. But this is the beginning of the end for his character Ethan Hunt, which is a bittersweet moment all on its own.

However, if Cruise movies aren’t really your thing, there’s a sweet little indie comedy about theater kids collaborating on the best show they can make at a camp in upstate New York, and a remake of a popular Japanese zombie movie from the director of a well-known Oscar winner.

“Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One” (In Theaters July 12th)

As the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, which started in 1996, arrives at its two-part finale, one can’t help but wonder where Tom Cruise is planning to go from here. There are a lot of jokes about long-running franchises sending their characters into outer space to keep things interesting. But Tom Cruise, may be the only human in existence who feels like a franchise of his own making, is actually doing it. As for “Mission: Impossible,” it’ll be hard to say goodbye to Ethan Hunt next year, but at least he’s going to give us a hell of a show first.

“Dead Reckoning, Part One” sets the stage for the grandest of finales by having Hunt and the IMF team face off against a techno-terrorist who plans on using advanced AI to infiltrate military, defense, and intelligence organization systems. The entire crew returns for the first part of the final installment, including newcomers Hayley Atwell as Grace and Vanessa Kirby as Alanna Mitsopolis, who was first introduced in the previous “M:I” film, “Fallout.”

Cruise is one of the last mavericks of blockbuster cinema, refusing to compromise when it comes to giving audiences their money’s worth. As a thinly-veiled metaphor for Cruise’s burning hatred for cinema by committee, “Dead Reckoning” seems like it’s going to live up to its name in more ways than one.

“Theater Camp” (In Theaters July 14th)

It’s no secret that the theater kids suffer much of the high school wrath we’re used to seeing in 90s movies. As recently as the late 2000s, “Glee” reinforced the stereotype that the only people who like theater kids are other theater kids. Now, a new mockumentary-style comedy, “Theater Camp,” is giving the musical theater enthusiasts another chance to shine.

Set at a summer theater camp in the Adirondacks, “Theater Camp” follows an ensemble of young artists and the sometimes ill-equipped counselors who are there to help them put on the best show they can. Starring and co-directed by “Shiva Baby” star Molly Gordon — alongside Ben Platt and Jimmy Tatro — the film takes place during a period of transition, when the original owner’s frat boy son takes over as manager after falling into a coma. Joining Platt and Gordon, the mismatched trio bands together to bring their production to life.

“Theater Camp” looks like it’ll be a celebration of the talented outcasts; the kids who love something so much they have to do it…no matter what those 90s movies say.

“Final Cut” (In Theaters July 14th)

If we told you that the same person who made “Final Cut,” a low-budget horror movie based on 2017’s “One Cut of the Deadalso won Best Picture at the Oscars in 2012, would you believe us? Well, it’s true! Michel Hazanavicius, director of 2011’s critically acclaimed “The Artist,” is back with a horror-comedy about a group of amateur horror filmmakers who try to make a zombie movie and end up facing a real-life zombie apocalypse. In fact, the only similarity between this and “The Artist” is that they both star Bérénice Bejo. Otherwise, this is uncharted territory for the French director, who normally makes decidedly non-supernatural dramedies.

The “gimmick” here is that, like the original, the entire film appears to be one continuous shot, hence the original’s “One Cut” in the title. Of all the ways directors try to bring attention to their films, doing a feature-length oner is definitely one of the more interesting ones. Found footage horror, in particular, has definitely fallen out of favor with audiences in recent years, but impressive formal experiments like this one never go out of style.

“20 Days in Mariupol” (In Theaters July 14th)

As an on-the-ground report of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, “20 Days in Mariupol” is one of the year’s essential documentaries. Directed by Ukrainian journalist Mstyslav Chernov, the film can mostly be summed up by its title. Capturing the first 20 days of the Russian invasion while trapped in its titular location, “20 Days in Mariupol” denies viewers the opportunity to continue seeing the war as some nebulous, faraway issue. Instead, Chernov drops us on the frontlines and demands we look and listen.

Josef Rodriguez is a writer, filmmaker, and film critic living in New York City.