Mission: Impossible Quadrilogy – Blu-ray Edition

mission impossible quadrilogyMission: Impossible directed by Brian De Palma:

Smartly released at the same time as the release of Mission Impossible III and with a star-studded cast including Emilio Estevez, Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Beart, Jean Reno, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Ving Rhames, Vanessa Redgrave, Henry Czerny, and Mr. Tom Cruise you would expect an exceptional movie. Mission Impossible is a decent film, but does not live up to the billing of its cast nor its director, Brian De Palma (The Untouchables, Scarface). The special effects (for the time – 1996) were incredible, but the story and pace of the film does not match their impressiveness. The story/plot/script has so many leaps of logic or holes in it that it resembles a leaky ship by the end of the confusing film. De Palma moves the film so quickly over the twists to get to his action sequences that the audience is never really given a chance to digest them. Some scenes are worth the skipping forward to them. For example, the scene where Hunt is breaking into the vault at Langley is great and full of tension. The old adage in Hollywood is that usually the original in a series of films is the best, but with Mission Impossible this does not hold true as Mission Impossible III is better by far.

In Kiev, Prague an IMF team is assembled by Jim Phelps (Jon Voight – Midnight Cowboy, Pearl Harbor) to catch Alexander Golitsyn (Marcel Iures – Interview With the Vampire, The Peacemaker) trying to steal the NOC list, tail him and whoever he is selling it to. The IMF team includes agents Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), Claire Phelps (Emmanuelle Beart – 8 Femmes, Don Juan), Sarah Davies (Kristin Scott Thomas – The English Patient, Gosford Park), Jack Harmon (Emilio Estevez – The Mighty Ducks, Young Guns), and Hannah Williams (Ingeborga Dapkunaite – Seven Years in Tibet, Shadow of the Vampire). What begins as a straightforward operation quickly turns into a disaster where all the agents, including Jim, are killed except for Ethan. Ethan calls IMF and meets a handler named Eugene Kittridge (Henry Czerny – The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Pink Panther). Kittridge gives Ethan a passport in order to leave Czechoslovakia, but Ethan soon realizes that he too is being set up. After escaping Ethan returns to Jim’s safe house and soon discovers that Claire is still alive. Ethan and Claire decide to steal the NOC list in order to draw out the buyer Max (Vanessa Redgrave – Girl, Interrupted, Howards End) in order for Ethan to figure out who is setting him up. They recruit two other disavowed agents, Franz Kreiger (Jean Reno – The Professional, Ronin) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames – Pulp Fiction, Jacob’s Ladder), to help them with the job of stealing the NOC list from Langley.

Special Features:
-Mission: Remarkable – 40 years of creating the impossible
-Mission: Explosive exploits
-Mission: International spy museum
-Mission: Spies among us
-Mission: Catching the train
-Agent dossiers
-Excellence in Film Cruise
-Acceptance speech for BAFTA/LA’s Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film
-Generation: Cruise
-Acceptance speech for MTV’s Generation Award
-Theatrical trailers
-TV spots
-Photo gallery

 

Mission: Impossible II directed by John Woo:

John Woo takes over behind the camera in the second Mission: Impossible and as you would expect if you are familiar with his work this film focuses on gunplay, hand-to-hand combat and non-stop action. That is all well and good as it is why most go to action films like Mission: Impossible, but you do have to pay some attention to the story as well. Woo seems to have forgotten that in this rather empty headed sequel.

Agent Agent Hunt (Tom Cruise) is back and his latest assignment is a deadly one. He has to protect the world against an outbreak of a deadly pathogen.

At the Biocyte Corporation a scientist is attempting to transfer the pathogen into his own body. A rogue IMF agent named Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott – Ever After) has the scientist killed and tries to get the deadly pathogen and its antidote for his own dastardly uses.

Ethan Hunt is tasked with retrieving the pathogen and in the process stopping Ambrose from carrying out his devious plot. To accomplish this Ethan turns to Ambrose’s former girlfriend, Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandie Newton – Norbit) as well as computer genius Luthur Stickell (Ving Rhames – Dawn of the Dead) and Aussie pilot Billy Baird (John Polson).

Though there is not much of a story here the fast paced action makes up for that void.  It is nothing like the brainier first film in the series rather the focus is on explosions and in your face action. Testosterone laden, yes indeed.

Special Features:

-Behind the Mission

-Mission: Incredible

-Impossible Shots

-I Disappear – Metallica

-Alternate Title Sequence

-Excellence in Film: Cruise

-Generation: Cruise

 

Mission: Impossible III directed by J.J. Abrams:

Because of all the negative press that Tom Cruise has faced lately (couch jumping on Oprah, attacking Matt Lauer on the Today Show, TomKat, TomKitten, etc.) you would think that this would somehow affect his performance in this film which he shot in the midst of all this. Amazingly, Mission Impossible III is probably the best of the series of films. Now, this probably has more to do with the brilliance of director J.J. Abrams (television’s Lost and Alias) than Tom’s performance, but the man does know how to act in action films. Cruise is at his best with smoldering intense looks, little dialogue and lots of physicality in this film. From about 7 minutes in the action begins and it does not stop until the very last scene two hours later. It is an amazing adrenaline rush of a film, but also manages to be fairly intelligent. Action films always require that you suspend disbelief for some of it, but Mission Impossible III is not so implausible that it becomes silly. J.J. Abrams demonstrates that he knows what to do with a large budget and knows how to hold an audience’s attention. Some of the special effects and chase scenes are innovative and top quality. The way Abrams allows the story to unfold is interesting and tricky causing you to have to constantly pay attention. Cruise’s performance is well complemented by a decent supporting cast which includes Ving Rhames, Keri Russell and hot young male actor of the moment Jonathan Rhys Meyers. The excellent and intense Philip Seymour Hoffman assumes the role of the baddie and he does a great job. It is a film in which even though you know the outcome of it going in, it still manages to entertain and wow you.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is living a seemingly ‘normal’ life. He is no longer a field agent for IMF and now trains young recruits. Due to this apparent stability in his life, Hunt is now engaged to be married to Julia (Michelle Monaghan – Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). On the evening of his engagement party Hunt gets a call from the IMF and he meets with an IMF operations manager named John Musgrave (Billy Crudup – Big Fish, Almost Famous), who tells him that a former star student of Hunt’s, Lindsey Ferris (Keri Russell – from television’s Felicity), has been captured by bad guy Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman – Capote, The Big Lebowski). Davian is an arms/weapons dealer who has eluded the agency for years. Due to a sense of loyalty towards his star pupil, Hunt agrees to join a rescue mission for Ferris with fellow agents Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames – Mission Impossible II, Con Air), Declan (Jonathan Rhys Meyers – Bend It Like Beckham, Match Point), and Zhen (Maggie Q. – Around the World in 80 Days, Rush Hour 2). Things on the rescue mission spiral out of control, Commander John Brassell (Laurence Fishburne – The Matrix, Akeelah and the Bee) is furious and wants answers and Hunt is drawn back into the life he left behind.

Special Features:
– Deleted scenes
-The Making of the Mission
-Tribute Montage: Excellence in Film
-Exclusive to Two-Disc Collector’s Edition:
-Mission Action: Inside the Action Unit
-Visualizing the Mission
-Inside the IMF
-Mission: Metamorphosis
-Scoring the Mission
-Launching the Mission
-Moviefone Unscripted: Tom Cruise/J.J. Abrams
-Tribute Montage: Generation: Cruise
-Photo gallery
-Trailers

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol directed by Brad Bird:

Like Tom Cruise’s career of late it seemed like after the third installment of this previously popular film series it had hit a brick wall.  The third Mission: Impossible film did make almost $400 million so to say that it tanked would be an exaggeration, but it certainly did not do as well as the previous two.  I’m sure plenty of eyes rolled when it was announced that the film series was coming back with a fourth installment and Tom Cruise would once again be Ethan Hunt.  All those eye rollers now have to eat a generous helping of crow.

IMF Agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise – War of the Worlds, Risky Business) is behind bars in a Russian jail.  Not for much longer, though as Agents Jane Carter (Paula Patton – Precious, Jumping the Broom) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg – Run Fatboy Run, Hot Fuzz) are part of a mission to break him out.

Once Ethan is out they are given a mission (should they choose to accept it, of course) by the IMF Secretary (Tom Wilkinson – Michael Clayton, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) in Russia that involves the Kremlin and nuclear launch codes.  Things go wrong and there is a massive explosion at the Kremlin.  Tensions rise between the U.S. and Russia as the Russians believe that the IMF is to blame for the explosion.  As an organization the IMF is disavowed and the President invokes the Ghost Protocol.

More importantly and dangerous is the fact that known terrorist Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist – Abduction) now has the nuclear launch codes.  He will use the launch codes to attack the United States.  After assigning the team of Hunt, Carter and Dunn to get the codes back the IMF Secretary is killed.  The team is pretty much on its own along with the help of the IMF Secretary’s intelligence analyst, a man with a past, William Brandt (Jeremy Renner – The Town, The Hurt Locker).  They will travel to India, Hungary and Dubai to stop the inevitable nuclear war from happening.

All the ingredients required by fans of spy films are found here.  There are exotic locations, technology and gadgets, disguises, action, and an elusive bad guy.  The twists and turns are engaging enough, the stunts are impressive and our leading man is once again a pretty cool spy. The story is fairly simple and that is okay. A bad guy wants to blow up the entire world with a weapon he has gotten his hands on and the good guys are going to try and stop him.  The IMF team is doing this all without a net as they have no back up due to being disavowed.  Four agents must do it all themselves.

Up to this point in his career Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) the director has been best known for his animated films.  With this one he proves he can work magic and keep the viewer interested with real humans as well.  It was seen as a “gamble” hiring this guy to direct a live action spy film.  Obviously that gamble paid off as the film took in around $650 million worldwide.  Well done, Brad and (begrudgingly) Mr. Cruise.  All in all it is great entertainment.

Special Features:

-Digital Copy

-Mission Accepted – Heating Up in Dubai

-Mission Accepted – Vancouver Fisticuffs

-Impossible Missions – The Sandstorm

-Impossible Missions – Props

-Deleted Scenes

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