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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
John Woo
Cast:
Tom Cruise, Thandie Newton, Dougray Scott, William R. Mapother, Brendan Gleeson, Anthony Hopkins, John Polson, Rade Serbedzija
Writing Credits:
Robert Towne

Synopsis:
A secret agent is sent to Sydney, to find and destroy a genetically modified disease called "Chimera".

Box Office:
Budget
$125 million.
Domestic Gross
$215,409,889.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 123 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 6/3/2008

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director John Woo
• “Behind the Mission” Featurette
• “Mission Incredible” Featurette
• “Impossible Shots” Featurette
• Music Video
• Alternate Title Sequence
• “Excellence in Film” Featurette
• “Generation: Cruise” Featurette


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Mission: Impossible II [Blu-Ray] (2000)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 22, 2015)

In 2000’s Mission: Impossible II, we again find Tom Cruise as superagent Ethan Hunt. It seems that one of the Impossible Mission Force's own men - Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) has gone to the dark side and Hunt needs to recruit Ambrose's ex-girlfriend Nyah Hall (Thandie Newton) to infiltrate his camp and discover the scoop.

Inevitably, the two beautiful people fall for each other in that amazingly-quick-yet-still-soulfully-deep manner that seems to only exist in the movies, and the personal connection adds an element of danger to the mission.

The story proceeds along fairly predictable lines, but I'll leave out the details to avoid any potential spoilers. I do think the movie ventures into Scooby Doo territory too often, however, but I'll omit the specifics to keep any surprises intact. If my meaning isn't clear, you'll get it better after you've watched the film.

In any case, even with the Scooby Doo bits intact, M:I2 manages to offer a fairly entertaining and compelling experience, though I don't think it's a rousing success. When I first saw it and felt mildly disappointed, I believe this was related to my post-Face/Off expectations; even with all the doom-and-gloom predictions that surrounded the film, I still really thought it'd be something special. When I discovered that it was a good but not great piece of work, I felt let down due to the enormity of my own hopes.

As such, my additional viewings seemed to provide a more objective screening. However, my opinion didn't differ at all after this recent experience. The movie moves at an erratic pace; an awful lot of the first half is devoted to exposition that could likely have been pared down without any loss to the narrative.

Despite all of that time spent on the characters and the plot, I still thought the participants appeared fairly ill-defined. As was also the case in the original film from 1996, Hunt feels like a nebulous and poorly-drawn character. There just doesn't seem to be much going on there, and we get few clues to his personality beyond vague action-hero clichés. Cruise makes a better tough-guy here than in the first film, but I still didn't find much about the character to seem compelling.

The same general malaise affects all of the roles. Newton is certainly gorgeous, and she displays moderate spunk at times, but we learn little about Hall other than a) she's a thief, and b) she used to bed down with Ambrose. Why'd she leave? Why was she with him in the first place? What's her sign? Can I get fries with that? All of these questions are unanswered, and the character remains vague.

Little more detail applies to Ambrose. Why'd he break off from the IMF? Apparently due to jealousy; he was always in Hunt's shadow and got sick of Ringo to Hunt's rest of the Beatles. (Yes, I stole that from an episode of The Simpsons.)

Other than that, who knows? One would think the IMF big-wigs would have a tighter rein on their agents than to let one slip away like this, but hey, even MI6 lost 006 to the Russkies in GoldenEye, so I suppose anyone's susceptible.

Despite these flaws, M:I2 does offer enough crackling action to make it worthwhile. Woo remains the master of choreographed mayhem, and the entire last act of the film is a tribute to his gifts.

The climax actually occupies almost the whole second half of the movie; from the 67-minute mark when Hunt goes to enter BioCyte through the finale is almost non-stop action and tension. Woo manages to vary things considerably during that period so that we experience a wide variety of kinds of action and see a few neat twists. Yeah, the Scooby Doo thing interferes, but it's still a pretty thrilling and exciting series of sequences.

And that's really all that we need from a John Woo take on the Mission: Impossible franchise. I would have preferred some of the depth and quirkiness found in Face/Off, but films that great don't come along everyday. As it stands, M:I2 makes for a pretty solid action flick that I'm sure to check out a few more times. I may not be bowled over by the movie, but it remains better than average.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

Mission: Impossible II appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The sequel came with a mediocre presentation.

Sharpness was adequate but rarely better. While the movie showed generally acceptable delineation, I didn’t see much fine detail, and wider shots seemed somewhat dodgy. Those lacked great definition and showed some edge haloes and blockiness.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and the image lacked obvious flaws like specks or marks. It did seem surprisingly grainy for a recent film, though. While I normally applaud the sight of grain because it means an absence of digital noise reduction, MI:2 showed so much grain that it seemed unnatural.

Colors tended to be on the somewhat heavy side, with an emphasis on reds. The tones were generally fine but could be a bit oppressive. Blacks veered toward the dense side of the street, and shadow detail was decent at best. This wasn’t a bad image but it lacked obvious positives.

I felt more pleased with the film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Audio used the speakers effectively throughout the movie, usually through various exaggerated swoops and bangs. For example, when we saw dancers spin, their dresses "whooshed" around us. Director John Woo loves that kind of hyper-realistic audio, and it was on display during most of M:I2.

When the action picked up in tose scenes, the track became even more aggressive and ballistic. Ultimately, the soundscape seemed impressive and engulfing.

Audio quality appeared mostly fine. Dialogue showed good clarity and definition, without edginess or other issues. Music sounded fairly peppy and full, and effects demonstrated nice punch and accuracy. This was a pretty solid mix.

How does the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD from 2000? Audio remained identical, which became a disappointment, as the Blu-ray should’ve offered a lossless soundtrack. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix was still very good, but it would’ve been better with a lossless upgrade.

Although I loved the DVD’s picture, that was 15 years ago. The Blu-ray offered improvements in the visual domain, but not to the expected degree. Sure, the Blu-ray looked tighter and smoother, but I think it should’ve been stronger than it was. Honestly, I’d not be surprised to learn the Blu-ray just reused the old DVD transfer, as it was a disappointment.

The Blu-ray offers many of the same extras as the DVD, and first we find an audio commentary from director John Woo. In this running, screen-specific piece, Woo looks at stunts/action, cast and performances, story/characters, sets and locations, effects and related areas.

My biggest problem with this track? It suffers from many empty spaces; Woo can go for extended periods without remarks. However, when he speaks, he generally offers some pretty interesting information.

Woo covers a variety of topics about M:I2 itself - from casting to effects to stunts to story - and he also mentions a lot of his thoughts about filmmaking in general. Happily, Woo devotes some time to a discussion of his past, and even reveals why he started to use the double-gun technique that he made so popular! Due to all of the gaps, this can be a frustrating commentary, but Woo fans will definitely want to give it a listen.

Behind the Mission lasts 14 minutes, 28 seconds and provides a glossy overview of the film. We hear interview snippets from Woo, producer Paula Wagner, writer Robert Towne, and actors Cruise, Newton, Scott, John Polson and Ving Rhames. For all intents and purposes, this is a promotional piece that provides little insight into the film. It's a well-executed program but the lack of detail makes it less than compelling.

Briefer but better is Mission Incredible, a five minute and 12 second piece that discusses the film's stunts. In this program, we hear from Woo, Cruise, Wagner, Scott, Polson, climbing expert Ron Kauk, stunt coordinator Brian Smrz, first assistant director Arthur Anderson and second assistant director Joan Cunningham. The brevity of the featurette is its weakness, and it also suffers from some of the glossiness found in "Behind the Mission". Still, at least "Incredbile" includes some interesting information, and it makes for a decent little hors d'oeuvre if you want to get just a taste of stunt facts.

For those who crave a more substantial meal, Impossible Shots is the place to go. In this section, we find 11 brief featurettes, each of which covers a different stunt. These range from the mountain climbing at the start of the film through the car chase, the break-in at BioCyte, and the climactic scenes. The featurettes take up a total of 34 minutes and 17 seconds.

Once again, these pieces bear a slick appearance that I don't much like; at times they seem more interested in looking cool than providing useful information. Nonetheless, we do learn a lot about the various stunts, and the programs convey these details in a fairly effective manner. I would prefer to see more footage from the set and fewer "talking head" shots - Woo and Smrz receive a lot of face-time - but we still get decent insight as to how the work was done, and that's the most important part.

Next comes a music video for Metallica's "I Disappear". I'm not a big fan of the band, and I don't think the song itself is one of their better tunes, but the four minute and 28 second video is a lot of fun. It combines the traditional lip-synching shots with a bunch in which band members are placed in various scenes of danger; none really echo M:I2 itself but they manage to evoke the spirit of the piece. Happily, actual movie clips are almost non-existent. It's not one of the all-time great music videos, but it's above-average and is a nice addition to the disc.

Less compelling is an Alternate Title Sequence. This 37-second snippet starts when the sunglasses explode and mainly shows the movie's title. It seems only mildly different from the existing credits and isn't very interesting. From the name of this extra, I thought it might be a different scene than the one used, but it's actually much more mundane.

The next two pieces connect to the same event. Excellence in Film: Cruise is a nine-minute and 15-second compilation of clips from Cruise movie’s created to precede his receipt of an award. It doesn’t seem especially interesting.

For more praise of the actor, we get a three-minute and 36-second montage called Generation: Cruise. It serves the same purpose as the “Excellence in Film” collection and presents shots from the actor’s flicks. Yawn.

With Mission: Impossible II, we get a fairly good action adventure. It doesn’t offer the best of the franchise, but it improves on the first film. The Blu-ray brings us mediocre visuals along with generally good audio and supplements. MI:2 delivers a mostly enjoyable movie but it could use an upgrade on Blu-ray, as this release doesn’t live up to the format’s potential.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8333 Stars Number of Votes: 6
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main