As the world is totally falling for the best blockbuster of the summer, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” Paramount takes the opportunity to cash in with tie-in releases for the first five films featuring the always-running Tom Cruise as the amazing Ethan Hunt. Having covered DVD and Blu-ray for over a decade now, I’m typically a bit hesitant to recommend double dipping on releases you already own, but these are the kind of 4K reissues that you could use to impress your friends and family. Much has already been written about well-designed “Fallout” is but these films have all been technically impressive. At their best, their action sequences make full use of the 4K technology, and the re-releases allow a revisit through the series, and a window into how it’s changed over the years.
Our very own Peter Sobczynski has already offered a complete history of the “Mission: Impossible” films and Nick Allen assembled a look at how this site has critically responded to all six of them. Rewatching them on 4K Blu-ray—some in bits and pieces, some in their entirety—was a fascinating experience. I had regularly returned to the two recent films: “Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol” and “Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation,” using their best sequences to calibrate HD TV and audio systems in the past. They’re really perfect for that kind of thing. And the problem is that once you start watching either film, they’re easy to get sucked into, and suddenly an afternoon is gone.
I hadn’t revisited the first three in over a decade, and they’re a fascinating trio of movies in no small part because of who made them. One of the elements that has really separated the “M:I” films from other action franchises (or even most of the MCU) is the willingness of Tom Cruise and company to turn the storytelling over to known auteurs. We live in an era in which most franchises work to flatten the authorship of their director (again, looking at you MCU), but each “M:I” is unmistakably the product of its creator. There are touches in each of the first three films that echo themes of the other works of Brian De Palma, John Woo, and J.J. Abrams. The next three get away from this aspect a bit and feel more consistent with one another, but it’s fascinating to watch a major Hollywood franchise that allowed viewers to see the director’s fingerprints instead of just waxing them out.
Having said that, the two newest films are the kind of technical marvels that really amplify the art of 4K most of all. To be fair, the first movie has never looked or sounded this good, and I had forgotten how beautifully-constructed it is from first scene to last. If you haven’t seen it in a long time, you should catch up on 4K. “Mission: Impossible 2” has not held up quite as well—it’s startling to see how much Hunt changed as a character/hero from De Palma to Woo—but it’s still an interesting film, anchored by solid supporting turns from Thandie Newton and Sir Anthony Hopkins. “Mission: Impossible 3” is often held up as a high point because it has the best villain and the highest emotional stakes. Both are true (at least until “Fallout”), but it already feels a little dated.
Most of all, it’s the transfers of these releases that make them a draw. They include all of the previously available special features—often on separate discs—so you don’t need to worry about that, but it’s the HDR that’s remarkable. It’s not just the colors that are richer but the Dolby TrueHD audio mixes that really stand out. Turn off the lights. Turn it up. You’ll appreciate arguably the best action franchise of the last two decades even more than you did before.
To purchase a 4K Ultra HD copy of "Mission: Impossible," click here
To purchase a 4K Ultra HD copy of "Mission: Impossible 2," click here
To purchase a 4K Ultra HD copy of "Mission: Impossible 3," click here
To purchase a 4K Ultra HD copy of "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," click here
To purchase a 4K Ultra HD copy of "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation," click here