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Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One still feels complete, in spite of the title

There’s no post-credits scene, no cliffhanger, no big tease for the next one

Tom Cruise stands up with his hands raised next to a car with Hayley Atwell standing nervously behind him in a photo from Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part 1 Photo: Christian Black/Paramount Pictures

Believe it or not, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is the third major blockbuster movie this year that’s kicking off a two-part story — it follows Fast X and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, which are both unlabeled “part one of two” movies. Unlike those films, Dead Reckoning announces its duology status in its title, which might lead audiences to expect that, like Fast X and Across the Spider-Verse, the film will end abruptly, then rely on a post-credits scene to tease the second half.

The opposite is actually true: By the time the credits roll, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his allies have faced down one major disaster, while leaving a larger threat looming for Dead Reckoning Part Two. The result is a film that’s arguably more satisfying and complete than 2023’s other blockbuster cliffhangers.

[Ed. note: Spoilers for Dead Reckoning Part One follow.]

What happens at the end of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One?

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt sits on a motorcycle at the very edge of a cliff overlooking train tracks extremely in the distance in Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part 1 Image: Paramount Pictures

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is elegantly structured for a two-parter. Instead of creating one massive plot and lopping it in two, the filmmakers behind Dead Reckoning instead break its antagonist into two parts.

The villain of both Dead Reckoning films isn’t a person; it’s an AI superweapon that has become sentient, and has doomsday on its artificial mind. But first, it’s out to guard its own safety, using human operatives to secure the only thing that can shut it down — a failsafe key, broken into two pieces, that allows a person to directly access the machine that the Entity (as it’s called) “lives” on. With that key, the movie’s various operatives assume, they could control the Entity — or shut it down.

Part One is about the race for both pieces of that key, as Hunt, the IMF, and various other parties interested in controlling, allying with, or surrendering to the Entity are seeking its possession. Fortunately, the movie ends with the key in Hunt’s hands, and the IMF bracing itself for the work of Part Two: finding the Entity and shutting it down.

Does Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One have a post-credits scene?

Believe it or not, it doesn’t! This is one of the reasons Dead Reckoning Part One functions well as a stand-alone film. It doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, no one’s fate is left uncertain by the time it fades to black, and it doesn’t make a point of trying to hook anyone on the next story in line. Instead, it ends on a note of resolve, as every character now knows the real problem they’re facing.

Sharp-eared viewers, however, might notice a little bleep-bloop audio cue after the credits, if they stick around — a fun little suggestion that the Entity might also be watching you.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is now playing in theaters.