I Saw Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part 1, And I Have One Major Complaint That Has Nothing To Do With The AI

Spoilers for Mission: Impossible -Dead Reckoning Part 1 can be found ahead. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

Like many fans of Tom Cruise out there, I have really enjoyed the actor’s collaborations with director Christopher McQuarrie, which started with the release of Jack Reacher in 2012 (though McQuarrie also worked on Valkyrie)  and continued with Mission: Impossible films, starting with Rogue Nation. In general, I love what the two men have been able to accomplish together. The Mission movies are daring, splashy, have stunning cinematography, and are incredibly engaging with audiences. But the latest Dead Reckoning- Part 1 has some problems, and my major issue with it is not the complaint most people seem to have. 

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part 1 is running at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of this writing and for the most part it deserves that ranking. There are some issues people are having, though, many of which have to do with the villainous AI at the heart of the film’s dense plot. The Huffington Post – who liked the movie – called it “melodramatic.” CinemaBlend’s own Eric Eisenberg referred to it as ‘generic artificial intelligence plotting” in his own Dead Reckoning review

Yes, the artificial intelligence plot is maybe not the movie’s biggest strength, but my main complaint actually has to do with Ilsa Faust, played by the wonderful Rebecca Ferguson, and the totally cavalier attitude this franchise has toward its leading ladies in general.

My Main Complaint? Why Kill Off Ilsa Faust? 

As you may have guessed – and hopefully have already seen -- Faust dies in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part 1. She dies when Ethan Hunt is given an impossible choice: Save the intriguing woman he cares for or the innocent thief Grace (Hayley Atwell) who is in over her head. 

Faust clearly is not one to back down from a fight, and she pays for it with her own life by taking on the human embodiment of The Entity (aka the AI), a terrorist named Gabriel (Esai Morales). The action scene’s a great sendoff for Ferguson. It’s also really annoying in context because it didn’t need to happen. 

Ilsa Faust didn’t need to die. She’s exactly the perfect type of character McQuarrie and co. could have allowed to pop in and out of the franchise when the timing was right, and her exit comes off like the movie killed her off so Cruise could have a new, shiny co-star. I get the movie tries to sell Hunt’s choice and how that choice impacts his decision to take Grace under his wing and teach her about the IMF, but it’s dumb and it shows (yet again) why this franchise has a total disregard for its female characters, who tend to die off or disappear so Hunt can spar with a new leading lady. 

Furthermore, killing off Faust is irritating because Mission: Impossible 7 actually takes the time to kick off with a great action sequence featuring Ilsa and Ethan. The two take on some bad guys in the desert and it seems in one moment that Faust had died. I was relieved the movie didn't kill her off there so they could go on another adventure together. 

I honestly thought the early scene in the movie with Ilsa and her eye patch felt like an excellent way to setup a future for her character. It read McQuarrie reintroducing her so she could pop in later in the movie (which did happen) and then hopefully afterwards, pop in and out of the franchise without being a main character (which obviously did not). When she did show back up mid-movie, I thought, 'Cool, Ilsa plays outside the lines, but she can be there when Ethan needs her most.' I see now that McQuarrie was setting the audience up to prepare them for Ethan's impossible choice, but I'm going to type it once and I'm going to type it very clearly: 

She. Didn’t. Need. To. Die. 

She most certainly definitely didn't need to die for Hayley Atwell to join the IMF and become the focal point in this movie! 

There’s just no payoff with this story. In fact, it’s like a clunky attempt at trying to show that Ethan Hunt cares about the women in his life, too, despite the fact they seem to die off left and right (or at best disappear) while Benji and Luther have nine lives. To be honest with you, I don’t really care that M:I is generally a boys club. I love Benji and Luther! What I don’t like is this ham-fisted attempt at making her death a big movie moment with alleged emotional payoff. Her purpose and inclusion in this movie should have mattered more, or I wish they hadn't brought her back at all. 

To note though, even the aforementioned reviews of the new M:I movie complaining about AI are at least on the positive side, and despite my one big beef about the Tom Cruise flick, I liked everything else --including the Dead Reckoning - Part 1 ending -- very, very much. I just wish an interesting female heroine would stick around for once.

For now, I'll be pouring one out for Ilsa Faust tonight. 

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.