After the third movie kind of underperformed at the box office in May 2006, I was quite shocked and, frankly, quite scared for the series. Though it had some of the best reviews of the entire series up to that point, has a ton of fans, great action and intrigue, it was mainly killed due to its star. I am not going to go into detail about his (seemingly) mid-life crisis on TV and tabloids and I am certainly not delving into his religious beliefs, I am going to say M:I:III was awesome and still holds up 10 years later as a superior action blockbuster.
Luckily, Cruise ventured into some interesting films between III and Ghost Protocol, found his footing again and prepared to take on Ethan Hunt once more.
An IMF agent is murdered in cold blood, while trying to smuggle out nuclear launch codes out of Budapest that would prevent all-out annihilation of the world. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise, as if you didn't know) is locked up in prison, but is freed by his cohorts Carter (Paula Patton) and MI3 holdover, Benji (Simon Pegg) to an amusing sequence set to "Ain't That a Kick to the Head", very reminiscent of Hudson Hawk, though way better.
Hunt is given the assignment to travel to Moscow, break into the Kremlin, apprehend known criminal only known as "Cobalt" and retrieve the stolen launch codes. The break-in is successful, but the codes are not there and someone over the IMF radio frequency detonates a bomb within the Kremlin, destroying it, and the world on the brink of nuclear war.
The IMF is disavowed, so Hunt and his cohorts and a new face, Brandt (Jeremy Renner), an analyst for the IMF, who is barely trusted by the team but must overcome their differences to save the world.... again.
So the plot is more of a tool rather than a foundation, and using this knowledge helps the movie succeed in every way possible. Director Brad Bird, making his live action debut, uses his tried and true talents and manages to make the second best M:I film of all time. Giving the film a huge dose of humor helps the enjoyment process, but also delivers amazing action set pieces (The sandstorm car chase, the climax of the film, and the true standout scene, The Burj Khalifa sequence) with amazing flair and style he is known for.
The cast are all excellent, with Cruise being a terrific action lead, Patton being an excellent foil to Hunt, Renner giving us a new character to possibly pass the torch after Cruise retires and is worthy of the mantle. The real standout is Pegg, giving us a funny performance that makes any regular Joe able to be in the feet of a rookie agent like Benji.
The villain, though is a weak point of the film. Lea Seydoux delivers a deliciously acidic performance as the henchwoman, and Michael Nyqvist also great as the main villain, but the villain is nothing new. Its like a less ridiculous Bond baddie, and isn't given too much to do (Remeber Dougray Scott from M:I-2? Me either...) unfortunately.
The screenplay is full of funny one-liners, action set pieces, and a decent story, but as I said earlier, its more of a tool rather than the foundation. The score by Michael Giacchino is appropriately action-y, but gives it jazz undertones (No techno or electronica, Thank God!) and the traditional signatures from Giacchino that stand out very well. The cinematography (Shot on 35mm and IMAX) is beautifully captured by Robert Elswit, the editing is top notch and has zero confusing quick edits typical of modern action fare, the CGI largely well-done and is all-around a big budgeted film with all the highlights therein.
Moving to the BluRay, the PQ/AQ is up first. The 2.35 film, being shot on 35mm film and on 65mm IMAX film, looks amazing in HD. The picture is sharp, colors are accurate and never dull (Unless needed), no ringing, no edge enhancement and is completely worthy for demo disc duty (Take note: the film doesn't switch to 1.78 during the IMAX scenes, nor are they included as extras, unfortunately). The AQ is no slouch either, with Paramount delivering a terrific and wall-rattling 7.1 Dolby TrueHD track. Gunshots, explosions, dialogue, car crashes, one-liners and everything audible is delivered to the max with some great surround elements and terrific use of LFE.
Moving on to the extras, which are located on disc 2 (Being the Best Buy exclusive), we start off with Mission Accepted: Suiting Up in Prague. This 18-minute chat with Bird, Cruise and other cast and crew members, deliver a nice chat about how the director was able to flex his style muscles, shooting in Prague and how it doubled for the Kremlin and much more. Mission Accepted: Heating Up in Dubai (18 minutes) talks about the city of Dubai, the challenges of shooting in and on the Burj Khalifa and also shooting in IMAX. Mission Accepted: Vancouver Fisticuffs is a 12-minute look at shooting in Canada on sound stages and the city itself, mainly looking at the finale that took six months to build the enormous set.
The next section is entitled Impossible Missions, consisting of 11 featurettes as follows:
- The Russian Prison is a 12-minute look at shooting the opening sequence, the scale of the scene and also chatting about Brad Bird's transition from animation to live-action.
- Shooting in Imax (4 min.) talks about IMAX
- Art Department (3 min.) is how the designers transformed Prague to Moscow with extreme detail.
- A Roll of Film (2 1/2 min.) talks about what happens to a roll of film after shooting.
- Life Masks (2-min.) is making plaster casts of the actors' faces for certain scenes.
- Stepping Into the Storm (2 min.) is test footage of the sandstorm sequence.
- Dubai Car Crash (8 min.) is a great look at the car chase sequence during a sandstorm, how the crew prepared for the stunts, having a stunt not go according to plan and successfully capturing the final moment on screen.
- Lens on the Burj (1 min.) is a brief look on the challenges of filming on the world's tallest building.
- Props is a 4 minute look at the gadgets, weaponry, and the mask making machine in slight detail.
- Composer (11 min.) is a look at Michael Giacchino and how he came up with the music to the film.
Deleted Scenes (15 min.) gives us deleted and alternate material all with an optional commentary with Brad Bird and finishing up the extras are two trailers for the film. A DVD and digital copy are also included as well.
All in all, this is a terrific film, worthy of any collector's shelf space and/or Mission: Impossible fans. The disc itself are stunning with some demo worthy picture and sound, and there is also a ton of extras here, but a commentary with Brad Bird and Tom Cruise would've been an excellent addition to the proceedings (Also, being the BBY exclusive, the regular edition only has 2 Mission Accepted featurettes, 2 of the Impossible Missions ones and the delted scenes with optional commentary) but overall, go and get it now!