After an hour or so where the trailer was leaked online in relatively pristine (but subtitled) form this past weekend, Paramount has offered up the first official teaser trailer for Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning part I. It’s slightly unusual to get a year-out teaser, as even before Covid studios were pulling back from the long-lead marketing campaign. For example, Godzilla: King of the Monsters began its marketing at SDCC 2018 only to gross just $110 million domestic and $390 million worldwide in May of 2019. Godzilla Vs. Kong dropped its first and only trailer in mid-January 2021, two months before its late-March global launch whereby it earned $100 million domestic (the first Covid-era release to do so) and $468 million worldwide. Hollywood is realizing or had realized that most general audiences don’t pay attention until the last two months.
Timed with the theatrical release of Top Gun: Maverick, we now have the same teaser that played at CinemaCon in Vegas in late April. I’m guessing this teaser was mostly in the bag when the film was intended to open on September 30 of this year, before it got pushed to June July 14, 2023. The release of the much-anticipated Top Gun sequel, which is also Paramount’s last biggie until Damien Chazelle’s Babylon on December 25, was too good of a movie+preview match to pass up. Moreover, this terrific teaser will play all summer. As with Jurassic World: Dominion, which offered an IMAX-only prologue with F9 but held its first teaser until February 2022, I’d otherwise expect near-radio silence on the Christopher McQuarrie -directed actioner until the second trailer drops with Avatar: The Way of Water in mid-December during the 2023 Super Bowl.
As for the spot, it’s a 130-second mood piece, with no dialogue save for Kittridge’s usual “You’re a fossil, Hunt, and your brand of super-heroics are stupid and dumb!” monologuing, which works because Henry Czerny is so good at playing that kind of scoundrel. The lack of sound effects gives the thing a melancholy air of grand tragedy and gravitas. I am reminded of the last theatrical trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, the one that played with The Avengers ten years ago, which was a contemplative affair that slowly built to the Hans Zimmer theme at just the right climactic moment before unleashing a final action montage. In this case, the whole thing has car chases, train fights, terrorist attacks and daredevil stunts, and the teaser builds to the classic Mission: Impossible theme before Ethan rides a motorcycle off a cliff.
Considering Mission: Impossible began 26 years ago as “the Tom Cruise as generic spy action man” franchise back when Cruise making an action film with some iconic IP tropes was enough to make it among the summer’s biggest hits, it’s shocking to see just how crowded the franchise has become. You’ve got Ving Rhames (from Mission: Impossible), Simon Pegg (from Mission: Impossible III), Rebecca Ferguson (from Rogue Nation) and Vanessa Kirby (from Fallout) alongside newbies Haley Atwell, Pom Klementieff and (to an unknown degree) the likes of Cary Elwes and a returning Czerny (who was Hunt’s justifiably pissed off supervisor in the first film). That’s not a criticism. Like the later Fast Saga flicks and the later Daniel Craig 007 movies, Mission: Impossible has evolved into an ensemble affair. I’m dying to see if Keanu Reeves’ John Wick: Chapter 4 follows suit.
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning part I will open theatrically on July 14, 2023, while Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning part II (or whatever they end up calling it, like Ethan Hunt and the Deathly Hallows part II) opens July June 28, 2024. It’s amusing how the franchise has followed a near-identical path to the Harry Potter films, with a director-swapping series (Chris Columbus, Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón and Mike Newell/Brian DePalma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird) over the first four films settling into a single filmmaker (David Yates = Christopher McQuarrie) who took over on film five and helmed the last four chapters, including a two-part finale. Let’s hope McQuarrie resists any offers to direct a bunch of ill=advised 1940’s-era prequels. This is most certainly an impossible mission you should not accept. We’d all hate to have to disavow him.