Brian De Palma brings his particular brand of neo-noir flair to the TV adaptation, Mission: Impossible, featuring a murder mystery plot disguised as an action spy thriller starring Tom Cruise. The film infiltrates 4K Ultra HD with a strong and generally satisfying Dolby Vision HDR presentation, an excellent Dolby TrueHD soundtrack and the same set of supplements, making the overall package Worth A Look for fans.
At a time when Hollywood was churning out adaptations of classic TV shows like candy — making up a big chunk of the 1990s cinema slate — only a few were as successfully memorable as Mission: Impossible. To this day, I still have great memories of seeing the movie on the big screen when it premiered because I was a fan of the original series, having grown up watching afternoon reruns on television. Added to that, Tom Cruise was the $100-million golden boy during this period, meaning anything he touched was pretty much a guaranteed box-office hit. That's not to say his movies were automatically good, but there was, at least, a greater chance of quality entertainment. And the plot of Cruise's IMF agent Ethan Hunt being disavowed (a popular theme of the franchise) and solving the murders of this fellow agents doesn't disappoint in this regard. Cruise sells the character's disillusioned anger, distress, and failures convincingly while at the same time, seeming competent at solving a mystery that framed him as the mastermind.
And to this central premise, Brian De Palma lends his unique eye, one informed and heavily influenced by the classics and legendary filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock. This is, by far, my favorite aspect of the entire film series where every director brings their particular style to each installment, and De Palma turns what should have been a simple, straightforward entry reminiscent of the original program into a film that could have worked just as well as a standalone spy thriller. The legendary filmmaker of cult favorites Dressed to Kill, Blow Out and Scarface breathes a neo-noir elegance to a murder mystery while injecting his artistic panache to the intentionally over-the-top action sequences, two of which are now basically staples of cinema spectacle. The most famous and unforgettable, of course, is the vault scene in CIA headquarters, and the camerawork is not only noteworthy but the wonderful balance of sound and silence is a thing of beauty. Over twenty years later, De Palma's Mission: Impossible remains just amusing and worth admiring as ever.
For a more in-depth take on the movie, you can read our review of the Blu-ray HERE.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Paramount Home Entertainment brings Mission: Impossible to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack with an UltraViolet Digital Copy, which can be redeemed via ParamountMovies.com, allowing owners to watch a 1080p HD copy with Dolby Digital Audio. However, iTunes and VUDU users can unlock 4K streaming rights with Dolby Vision and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1. The dual-layered UHD66 and Region-Free BD50 discs sit on opposing panels of a black, eco-vortex case with glossy slipcover. At startup, viewers are taken directly to a static screen with the usual selection along the bottom and music playing in the background.
Disavowed IMF agents break into the state-of-the-art security vault of Ultra HD with a strong HEVC H.265 encode in Dolby Vision HDR, though overall, the results can be a bit of a mixed bag. There are several occasions when the picture looks fantastic and highly-detailed, especially during the various close-ups that expose the smallest pore, wrinkle and negligible blemish. Fine lines and objects are generally distinct and plainly visible from a distance, as well. However, a big chunk of the runtime is also riddled with a good amount of poor resolution and many distractingly blurry sequences, and this is especially problematic in extreme long shots, likely a result of the original cinematography and on the condition of the source, not the fault of the encode. In fact, it's difficult, at times, to distinguish this 2160p video from the 1080p version, meaning that it was upscaled rather than receiving a new remaster. On top of that, there are instances of aliasing throughout, most apparent in the images and lettering in computer monitors.
Primaries appear fuller and deeper, which I imagine fans will be quick to note. The red of the firetrucks or from the glow of the lights during the Langley scene seem more animated and burning with intensity, and the blues from computer monitors, the neon lights and the crystal-clear sky is more energetic while the greens in foliage are livelier and more cheerful. However, most everything else of this Dolby Vision presentation remains about the same as the Blu-ray, which could be argued as being faithful to Stephen H. Burum's stylized photography and De Palma's creative noir-like intentions. Then again, on the flip side, there is a tad more variation in the overall palette with better saturated yellows and browns while skin tones have a rosier, lifelike complexion that's attractive.
On a more interesting note, it would appear this transfer perhaps enjoys a new color timing because much of the 4K presentation comes with a light-yellow tint, making the whites of various light sources appear noticeably warmer. Overall contrast isn't significantly brighter, but this warmer tone is arguably an improvement over its predecessor and most apparent during the secure computer room at Langley. On the other hand, contrast levels now seem average with lots of blooming hot spots that ruin the finer details, and specular highlights are similar to its HD SDR counterpart. Black levels are richer with more gradational variation between the shades, providing the 2.35:1 image with an appreciable cinematic quality. Darker, deeper shadows allow for good visibility in the background, but the darkest corner of the frame reveals some crush. Awash with a very fine layer of natural grain, giving it a welcomed film-like appeal, the Dolby Vision video comes with a few disappointments but arguably just enough positives to tempt the most loyal fans. (Video Rating: 75/100)
The impossible has been successfully executed on UHD with a brand-new 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack, upgraded from a Dolby Digital track heard on previous Blu-ray edition, an issue that fans have been complaining about since the movie originally hit the format in 2007.
Interestingly, the upgrade isn't a massive night-and-day improvement, as the design still remains a front-heavy presentation. Granted, the rears are occasionally put to good use thanks to a few, sporadic effects during certain sequences, but it's nothing particularly noteworthy or enveloping in any convincing manner. In fact, the surrounds don't receive much of a workout and are fairly silent for a majority of the runtime. Much of the attention and action is spread across the fronts, layered with a variety of noises and background activity discretely panning between the three channels, making for a highly-engaging presentation. The lossless mix delivers a fuller, warmer soundstage with improved detailing and clarity within the mid-range, exhibiting excellent separation during the loudest moments and better fidelity in Danny Elfman's score. Vocals are precise and very well-prioritized throughout. The low-end remains about the same, but it still delivers a weighty, commanding presence to the action and music. (Audio Rating: 82/100)
All the same supplements are ported over from previous home video release, which can be read in more detail in our review of the standard Blu-ray HERE.
Having grown up watching afternoon reruns of the original series on television, I was pretty excited about seeing a big-screen adaptation of Mission: Impossible, especially since it was directed by Brian De Palma and featuring music by Danny Elfman. Starring Tom Cruise, the film is really more a murder mystery plot disguised as an action spy thriller with an engaging neo-noir flair and creatively stylized action sequences. Infiltrating the 4K Ultra HD vault with relatively good success, the movie lands with a strong and generally satisfying Dolby Vision HDR presentation and an excellent 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack, making it an improvement over its HD SDR counterparts. Porting over the same set of bonus features as before, the overall package is worth a look for fans who've been patiently waiting for a satisfactory edition.