…As always, should you or any of your IM force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds…
First of all, let me say that I have always been a big fan of the original MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE television series- from which the Tom Cruise movie franchise has been derived. For my money, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE was and is the best espionage series ever produced for the medium and I hope the television series arrival on DVD is imminent. As for the Tom Cruise motion picture update of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE ($20), the first installment is Grade A entertainment, even if the plot was too convoluted for some folks to follow. Personally, I like the complexities and structure of the Robert Towne/David Koepp screenplay, which serve to keep one mentally engaged between director Brian De Palma’s the action set pieces.
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, the movie, opens in a similar fashion as an episode of the classic television series, namely a recorded message that begins "Good morning Mr. Phelps…" has been passed to Impossible Mission Force chief operative Jim Phelps (played in the movie by Jon Voight). Before the message self-destructs, it lays out the current mission, as well as naming the other operatives selected for the team. The mission takes the IM operatives to Prague, where they are to retrieve a list of field operatives- after it is stolen at a diplomatic function.
Unfortunately, the mission goes horribly wrong, with most of the IM operatives being killed in the process, including Jim Phelps. Phelps’ point man Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) survives the mission, which actually turns out to have been a ruse to expose a mole working within the IM Force. Since he survived, Hunt is instantly suspected of being the mole that got the rest of his team killed. Finding himself disavowed by his own agency and a hunted man, Hunt puts together his own IM Force of fellow disavowed agents to lure the real mole out of hiding. The cast of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE also features Emmanuelle Béart, Henry Czerny, Jean Reno, Ving Rhames, Kristin Scott Thomas and Vanessa Redgrave.
Correcting the biggest flaw in their initial DVD release of the film, Paramount Home Entertainment has made the Special Collector’s Edition of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE available on DVD in a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. While the transfer isn’t going to blow anyone out of his or her seats, it is fairly terrific and makes upgrading the previous release pretty much a necessity. In general, the picture is quite sharp and nicely defined, but there are some mildly soft moments scattered about. Colors are strongly rendered, without flaws and the flesh tones always come across in an appealing fashion. Blacks are inky, whites are generally stable, plus the picture boasts smooth contrast and a good level of shadow detail. The film elements display some minor blemishes, but for the most part are clean. Some mild grain crops up in places, but is never objectionable. Digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE comes with an invigorating, well mixed Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Composer Danny Elfman wisely incorporates Lalo Shifrin unforgettable theme music into his score at every opportunity, which effectively pumps up the movie. Fidelity in wonderful, with the music generating a full bodied sense of presence, plus the sound effects always come across in a convincing manner. All of the outlying channels are well utilized during the action sequences, with the sound design coming to full blown life during those moments. Quieter moments are clean sounding and produce nicely balanced acoustic spaces. The bass channel rumbles through one’s listening room effectively, without being overly boomy. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. English and French 2.0 surround tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and Spanish subtitles.
Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some nice supplements. While Mission: Remarkable: 40 Years Of Creating The Impossible offers clips from the original television series, the Tome Cruise movie series is the real focus of this eleven-minute program. Mission: Explosive Exploits runs about five minutes and looks at some of the action sequences. Mission: International Spy Museum offers a six-minute glimpse at the real world of spies, gadgets and disguises. Mission: Spies Among Us spends eight minutes examining the reality of being a spy. Mission: Catching The Train offers a brief glance and the creation of the film’s climatic effect sequence. Taken together Excellence In Film: Cruise, Acceptance Speech For BAFTA/LA’s Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award For Excellence In Film, Generation: Cruise and Acceptance Speech For MTV’s Generation Award may be too much Tom Cruise for the average action fan to bear. Agent Dossiers, Theatrical Trailers, TV Spots and a Photo Gallery close out the supplements.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE is a highly enjoyable action movie adapted from the premise of the classic television series. Paramount Home Entertainment’s new DVD is light years ahead of the previous unenhanced widescreen release. If you are a fan, this upgrade is an absolute must have. Recommended.
reviews are Copyright © 2006 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied
or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.