With Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol right around the corner, it makes sense that Paramount would go ahead and release the Mission: Impossible collection on Blu-Ray. The film, of course, stars Tom Cruise as IMF agent Ethan Hunt, a man who seemingly has a thing for taking on missions that are for the most part, impossible. Starting back in 1996, the series has pulled in a cool $1.5 billion for Paramount and deservedly so.
All three films showcase Cruise at his best, kicking ass and taking names, and looking super cool while doing so. While neither of the three films are without flaws, all three of them are extremely entertaining (if not a bit gratuitous) action films that will have you humming that ultra catchy theme song long after the end credits roll.
In the original film, Mission: Impossible, we are introduced to Tom Cruise‘s Agent Ethan Hunt, a member of an exclusive branch of the CIA known as the IMF (Impossible Missions Force). When a routine mission goes terribly wrong, Hunt is framed for a number of murders that he didn’t commit. Now, on the run from the CIA, he struggles to expose the mole within the agency before they can track him down.
With Mission: Impossible 2, Hunt is back and still up to his old tricks. After learning of a deadly virus ending up in the hands of an ex-IMF agent, he’s thrust back into the world of high stakes action, frantic chases across the globe and death defying stunts as he races against his former colleague to stop the spread of the deadly disease.
And finally, when it comes to Mission: Impossible 3, Hunt is pulled out of retirement when one of his proteges is captured while on a mission investigating a notorious black market dealer named Owen Davian. After a botched rescue attempt, things get personal and Hunt sets out to take revenge on Davian and tries to figure out why he’s after a mysterious device known as the Rabbit’s Foot.
The first film, Mission: Impossible, plays out more as a crafty and smart espionage thriller, rather than a balls to the wall action spectacle. Don’t get me wrong, it has its fair share of heart pounding action sequences, but it finds a nice balance between the two.
It’s more of a thinking man’s film than the other two but it can still be enjoyed by just about anyone. That being said, the plot can become a bit murky at times so paying attention is essential to really get the most out of the story. A bit of a tighter script may have helped certain plot points but overall it’s not a huge deal.
Tom Cruise‘s Ethan Hunt is a likeable and believable character who is grounded in reality enough for us to become somewhat attached to him. The superstar handles himself perfectly in the role and is immensely watchable, across all three movies. He’s suave, cool and at times, pretty badass. Cruise’s charisma and charm ooze off the screen and it’s easy to see across the three films why he’s such a big movie star.
Director Brian De Palma also adds a welcome element to the first film, creating an almost film noire feel at times, lending to the movie’s theme of espionage and intrigue. Through the use of inventive camera angles and tense shots, he’s able to fill the air with a sense of danger and mystery that only serves to up the intensity.
For the second film, John Woo takes the helm and completely switches gears. Gone are the intrigue, mystery and clever plot from the original. Instead we get an all out action blockbuster, perfect to soak up some popcorn with. The film is the most superficial and silly of the three but it’s also a ton of fun. The story and writing are certainly sub par but what it lacks for in depth it makes up for in action.
Woo is both flashy and showy with his work here, giving us high speed chases, exhilarating hand to hand combat, gritty gunplay and loud explosions. Gone are the more toned down espionage elements as an in your face barrage of action takes its place. Truthfully, I enjoyed this one better than the first. The dazzling action had me hooked and Woo really put his touch on the film, with signature slow-mo shots and acrobatic stunts. If you can swallow the fact that this film takes the series in a totally new direction, I think you’ll find much enjoyment here.
LOST guru J.J. Abrams is in charge of Mission: Impossible 3 and to be honest, he drops the ball, unfortunately. Abrams opts to combine the best of both films, taking a bit of Mission: Impossible‘s espionage elements and throwing in ample amounts of high octane action. The result is an undoubtedly entertaining film, but one that leaves you wanting more in the character/plot development department.
Philip Seymour Hoffman is excellent as the film’s villain, yet nothing is really known about his character. We never really learn much about his motives or reasons for doing what he does and his storyline ends in an incredibly unsatisfying way. And it’s a shame because Hoffman’s stoic and disturbing performance is effectively chilling. The character is just poorly written and developed.
The same can be said for the plot. One of the major elements of the plot is a mysterious device called the Rabbit’s Foot. It’s an integral part of the film but it’s never really explained what it is or why everyone is after it.
In fact, the entire story really feels like one big excuse to stage large action set pieces and get Tom Cruise back into character, doing what he does best. I’m not complaining as the film was quite a ride and full of electrifying stunts and explosions, but just know that the plot holding it up is flimsier than the piece of paper lying beside you.
All things considered, I’ll say the following. Call it a guilty pleasure but the Mission: Impossible series is an excellent way to just kick back, relax and have some fun. Each film raises the stakes and each one flaunts more impressive stunts and set pieces than its predecessor. Sure, the writing falters here and there and some characters are backed by such little depth that they’re no more than cardboard cutouts. Overall though, I love this series and anyone looking for some gratuitous entertainment should be pleased as well.
On Blu-Ray, the discs arrive exactly how they were when they were released individually. All things considered, the film’s all look and sound pretty good, with only a few complaints, mainly stemming from the first film.
The original lacks the pop that the other two films have and the black levels feel off in far too many scenes. It’s also not as crisp and sharp, with a fair amount of softness appearing and not as much detail as I would have liked.
The sound isn’t much better either, with an acceptable track that falters a few times. The score sounds great, dynamics aren’t bad and the sound design during the computer room scene is effective and intriguing, but aside from that, it’s all very average.
With the second film, we get a better transfer on both the audio and video side. Detail is much stronger, with facial detail being the real highlight. Colours are warm and natural and fleshtones look fairly accurate. Like in the first film, some scenes feel like they could have used more work when it comes to black levels but it never becomes too obtrusive. Overall it’s a much more cinematic look than the first film and it complements Woo’s direction.
The audio, while not perfect, is also a step up from the first film. Directional effects are superb and explosions and gunshots will give your speakers a healthy workout. A deep and effective bass is found throughout, especially in the action scenes and dialogue is never lost in the gunfire. The score is also pretty good and is balanced perfectly, kicking in at all the right times and never taking over the track.
Finally, for the third film, we get the best transfer of all. Boasting a razor sharp picture with some excellent detail, the film looks incredibly good. It’s sharp and very well defined, with almost an almost perfect balancing of black levels. The scenes in Shanghai look especially good, as Abrams’ confident eye captures the city in all its glory, something the transfer boasts pretty well.
The audio is also a treat. A lossless track would have been better but I’m not going to complain with what’s offered here. The bridge attack scene is probably the highlight but all the big set pieces sound terrific. Explosions rumble throughout the room and the punchy gunfire pops at every instance. Dialogue is crisp and clear on all occasions and once again, we get a great score that fits in perfectly. Surrounds will envelop you in the action and the level of engagement on the track will ensure audience members get lost in the mayhem.
When it comes to features, here’s what is provided.
- Mission: Remarkable – 40 Years of Creating the Impossible
- Mission: Explosive Exploits
- Mission: Spies Among Us
- Mission: Catching the Train
Mission Impossible 2
- Commentary by Director John Woo
- Behind the Mission
- Mission Incredible
- Impossible Shots
Mission: Impossible 3
- Commentary by Tom Cruise and Director J.J. Abrams
Most disappointing is the decision not to include the second disc of Mission: Impossible 3. The original release had a second disc full of extras but here, they’ve left it out, instead giving us just a commentary.
Aside from that though, I don’t have too many complaints. The highlight on the first film is Mission: Remarkable, which is a lengthy documentary on the history of the franchise, the differences between the show and film, the development of the film series etc. The other three extras here are just short little features dealing with one specific aspect of the film, whether it be the stunt work, creating the train scene etc.
On the second film, nothing really stands out. The fifteen minute making of (Behind The Mission) is probably the best feature but even then, it’s fairly shallow. The other two extras are, like on the first film, just short little featurettes looking at a specific aspect of the filmmaking. Neither are terribly in-depth or informative but still worth a watch if you enjoyed the film.
The Mission: Impossible series is about to enter into its fourth adventure in just a few weeks and this box set reminds us why the franchise is so successful. They may not be the deepest, smartest or most well thought out films, but they’re so damn entertaining and enjoyable. Plus, Tom Cruise is at his absolute best in all three, giving us an insanely watchable character who we love to root for.
Each film has its own strengths and weaknesses but overall, each film is a very fun ride, mixing suspense, intrigue, action and a mega moviestar on top of his game. I know the series puts some people off due to its silliness (at times), poor writing (in films two and three) and its over the top action and that’s fine, I understand that. To be honest though, it doesn’t bug me. I walked away from each one entertained and for me, that’s enough to make this one worth a purchase.
The Mission: Impossible trilogy is very enjoyable. The action set pieces are fantastic and Tom Cruise is just so damn good at playing Ethan Hunt. If you're looking for some great fun, you can't go wrong with this one.