TOM Cruise is off his rocker. Completely crackers. It’s the only explanation. What else would posses a man in his sixties to drive a motorbike off a mountain multiple times in the name of popular entertainment? Surely this is why stunt artists exist, no?

The scene itself is a centrepiece showstopper in Dead Reckoning, the seventh of Cruise’s Mission Impossible films and opening act in a two-part romp of epic proportions. Breathtaking that the stunt is, it’s piecemeal stuff for a franchise committed to one-upping itself with each new release.

Indeed, the most alarming thing about watching Cruise jet off a cliff face is surely the thought that the sequel must now feature something even more death defying. The mind truly boggles.

Cruise is, of course, riding high these days. Last year’s long-awaited sequel to 80s favourite Top Gun gifted the star his biggest box office returns in over forty years of filmmaking. Maverick cruised passed the billion dollar watermark in 2022 and now sits pretty as the twelfth highest grosser of all time. It’s a feat Dead Reckoning must repeat if it has any hope of recouping its extraordinary $290m budget.

Regardless, the film’s a triumph. Peddle to the metal exhilarating, bolstered by higher-than-ever-before stakes and a supreme ensemble. Alongside Cruise, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames and Vanessa Kirby all return with gusto, inspiring A-game turns from newcomers Hayley Atwell and Esai Morales.

As per franchise protocol, the film kicks off with some early bangs and a mission for Ethan Hunt (Cruise), should he choose to accept. Hunt is tasked with travelling to Namibia to retrieve half of a key from Ilsa Faust (Ferguson), who has a $50m bounty on her head.

The key in question, when united with its other half, grants the holder power over the Entity, a potentially sentient AI experiment gone very, very wrong. Believing the Entity too powerful for any government to truly gain control of, Hunt takes it upon himself to destroy the thing once and for all. He has one half of the key, now he must find the other.

Expected the unexpected as Dead Reckoning hurls towards its cliffhanging climax. Nothing is off limits, nobody is safes Part two is due next year and the wait may well be agonising. This blockbuster is not to be missed.