Audiences go to see a Mission: Impossible movie because they want to see Tom Cruise bend the universe backwards to survive stunts that would likely kill anyone else. Because of that, it can sometimes be easy to leave behind the actual plot of these films and their respective villains, give or take some exceptions. But the recently released Dead Reckoning Part One has quite the memorable villain, because it’s the very thing the entertainment industry is actively fighting at this moment.
Dead Reckoning’s plot centers around an AI algorithm dubbed The Entity that various global superpowers, but especially the US government, want for their own ends. If there were any time for a movie to give a wakeup call about AI, it’d be as actors and writers are striking to ensure their work isn’t fed into an algorithm that would end their livelihoods. But director/co-writer Christopher McQuarrie told Collider that he and Tom Cruise were originally hesitant on making technology the villain during initial story meetings back in 2018. “Two or three years ago, this idea would have been too intellectual for most people,” he recalled saying to Cruise.
As he explains it, he later drew on fears of the Cold War during his childhood to really flesh out the Entity and make it what it is in the final film. “’What are people bringing to the movie now?’ They’re not bringing the Cold War,” he noted, “they’re not bringing the war on terror, they’re bringing something new, and what is it?’” He, Cruise, and fellow co-writer Erik Jendresen eventually agreed to go all in on AI because he felt “this anxiety about technology and what and how technology was beginning to influence our lives.”
Dead Reckoning makes the Entity’s danger to both the world and Ethan Hunt’s team felt throughout the film. Both on its own and with human disciples like Gabriel (Esai Morales), the AI does a lot of damage that won’t be too surprising if you’ve seen at least one rogue AI movie. Even so, he mentioned his hope that the duology will elicit feelings of catharsis similar to the original Top Gun did for Cold War-era audiences back in 1986. “That movie was telling you that everything was ultimately gonna be okay. You were showing them a way out.” But before that, he teased that the Entity’s actions in Dead Reckoning Part Two will “freak you out” even more.
Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning Part One is in theaters now.
Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.