‘Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning’ Debuts 20-Minute Car Chase With Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell Evading Enemies Through the Streets of Rome

Ethan Hunt clearly doesn’t want to die old and of natural causes.

The IMF agent swings back to action in “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One,” and based on the footage that Paramount brought to CinemaCon on Thursday, his alter-ego Tom Cruise is once again putting it all on the line in service of keeping audiences on the edge of their seats. In the past, Cruise has hung on the sides of skyscrapers and airplanes. This time, Cruise rides a motorcycle off a cliff… you know, as one does to save the world.

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And, in a 20-minute sequence that screened for movie theater owners in Las Vegas on Thursday, he and Hayley Atwell, playing a mysterious operator, evade multiple different antagonists while driving at breakneck speed through the streets and alleys of Rome — even the Spanish steps make an appearance. Making things even tenser, Cruise and Atwell are handcuffed throughout much of the chase, which finds them jumping on and discarding motorcycles, police cars, and beat-up autos intended for the junkyard.

The lengthy scene seems like Cruise’s effort to top such iconic chases as those in “The French Connection” and “Bullitt,” all while the Colosseum looms in the distance. The audience at Caesars Palace seemed to dig what was on display, gasping, applauding, laughing (yes, it’s frequently funny) along with each hairpin turn.

Cruise didn’t attend CinemaCon in person, as he has for previous installments. He was busy working on “Dead Reckoning Part Two” (and risking God knows what form of bodily harm). After the presentation, Paramount executives huddled on speaker phone in the lobby of the theater in Caesars Palace to reassure Cruise that the sequence had been a huge hit with the audiences. They also made a point of telling him that they had let the audience know that the 20 minutes they showed weren’t the first part of the film.

Christopher McQuarrie, who directed the two previous “Mission: Impossible” movies, returns, as do ensemble members Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames and Vanessa Kirby. That’s to say nothing of the menacing presence of Henry Czerny, the shadowy government agent who stalked Hunt and crew in 1996’s inaugural “Mission: Impossible.”

“Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” opens on July 14. During Paramount’s CinemaCon presentation, the studio also teased trailers and footage from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” and “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.” CinemaCon is an annual exhibition industry trade show that is unfolding this week in Las Vegas. Attendees have seen presentations from all of the major studios, including Warner Bros., Sony, Disney, and Universal.

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