Timed for Tom Cruise’s return to the big screen as IMF agent Ethan Hunt, the first three Mission Impossible film have been collected on Blu-ray as an Extreme Trilogy Collection.
All three films are still entertaining, but the set is hardly worth the purchase if you own the films in one of the other collections already released.
Based on the hit television series, the three Mission Impossible films are a near perfect combination of action and suspense. They also manage to have the cool spy ingredients fans have expected from the genre since a certain British agent was brought to the screen in his first tangle with Dr. No.
While keeping the films grounded in a form or reality and set against the modern world of government super-secret agencies, the Mission Impossible films manage to give fans lots of fun gadgets and impossible scenarios for their agents to have to survive.
The films have also managed to snag A-list directors and stars that have been able to craft the films to their own visual styles (not always a good thing) rather than having to fit them into a cookie-cutter formula.
1996’s Mission: Impossible was directed by the legendary Brian De Palma and has his fingerprints all over it. The film kicks off the franchise at a bit of a slow burn. It has some incredible action sequences and firmly establishes Tom Cruise as the face of the franchise.
The plot sees IMF agent Ethan Hunt framed for the deaths of his espionage team and branded a mole by the agency. Hunt is on the run and forced to clear his name by teaming with other disavowed IMF agents including cyber hacker Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), mechanic Franz Krieger (Jean Reno), and his fellow teammate that is thought to be dead Claire Phelps (Emmanuelle Béart).
I remember enjoying the film in the theater when it first came out, and it is still entertaining. Watching it on Blu-ray, it doesn’t hold up as well and is probably the weakest of the Mission Impossible films. I am normally a fan of De Palma’s but for some reason his style of filming really annoyed me watching Mission Impossible on Blu-ray.
The film is filled with tight shots of the actors’ faces shot at odd angles (to give it his signature voyeur feel) and it is like they are trying too hard to make it feel too much like a Cold War spy potboiler.
The Blu-ray version of the film comes with several bonus features including Mission: Remarkable – 40 Years of Creating the Impossible, Mission: Explosive Exploits, Mission: Spies Among Us and Mission: Catching the Train.
Overall I would give the film about 3 ½ stars.
2000’s Mission Impossible 2 sees director John Woo bringing his vast talents and styles to the Mission Impossible world. While the movie has a more action focus, it feels very much like a Tom Cruise vanity project as the actor is front and center as the main focus of the franchise. It also seems he is the only real member of IMF since you see little of the rest of the organization.
Some of this feeling could simply be because the opening of the film focuses on Cruise rock climbing before getting a pair of special sunglasses with a message and self-destruct feature.
The movie’s plot finds Cruise’s Hunt forming a team to take down renegade IMF agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott). Ambrose plans to release a biological weapon on the public and get rich from selling the only cure and it is up to Hunt, Luther (the only other returning character from the first film) and beautiful thief Nyah Hall (Thandie Newton) to stop him.
The second film gives Hunt a more solid love interest (Claire Phelps was close to a love interest in the first film but never fully developed in that area) and a personal reason to take Ambrose down.
While keeping some of the IMF gadgets (such as the trademark masks), Woo grounds the film in more realistic style of action. Cruise takes out the bad guys in brutal hand-to-hand fights, motorcycle chases, and lots of gunfights.
Since this is a Woo film, the action sequences have that epic style that has made the director an icon in the genre. This also hurts the film on some levels (how many times can the doves go flying before Cruise rushes to save the day), and weighs the film down. The plot moves much quicker than the first film, and the focus on action keeps it entertaining – even if your overall enjoyment of the movie will depend on how much you can stand close-ups of Tom Cruise.
Special features on the Blu-ray include commentary by Director John Woo, Behind the Mission, Mission Incredible, Impossible Shots.
Overall, I would give the movie three stars.
For me, 2006’s Mission: Impossible III is the best of the series so far. The film was directed by J.J. Abrams and takes us into the larger world of the IMF agency for the first time. Cruise is still front and center as the face of the franchise, but there is a much larger team feel to the movie.
The film is a great blend of suspense and action with Cruise’s Hunt having to come out of semi-retirement (he still works for IMF but as a training agent now) to take down weapons dealer Owen Davian (a menacing Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and rescue his new bride Julia (Michelle Monaghan).
Joined once again by Luther, Hunt’s new team includes driver Declan Gormley (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and Zhen Lei (the lovely Maggie Q), Ethan spans the globe to stop the bad guy and once again save the day.
Mission Impossible III has a great epic feel and a pace that keeps it entertaining. By opening up the film to the rest of the IMF agency, Abrams and company also make the franchise feel bigger than just Cruise. Hoffman proves to be a great villain and a credible threat when he goes up against Cruise. The movie has some weak moments but manages to keep the throttle down so the audience doesn’t dwell on its faults.
Special features on the Blu-ray include commentary by Cruise and Abrams.
Overall, I would give the movie four stars.
If you don’t already own the Mission Impossible films or just want to upgrade from DVD to Blu-ray (although Mission Impossible and Mission Impossible II don’t really have the kind of quality you might expect from the format), this is a good set to own. The films all manage to entertain and I am glad to see Cruise’s Hunt accepting one more mission on the big screen.
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