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Unlike its predecessor, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 ($30) is an action movie that is designed to push the buttons of genre fans. When the first MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE movie was released, a lot of people complained that the plot of the film was too complex to follow. For me, the complexities of that Brian DePalma directed outing was what made the film more interesting than a standard action movie. With MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 producer/star Tom Cruise has responded to the audience's complaints by streamlining the sequel’s narrative and pumping up the action sequences. While this in itself could have produced just another generic action flick, Cruise wisely brought in director John Woo to work his own brand of magic and create the kind of engrossing action sequences, which can make an audience completely forget that the film's plot is paper thin. Despite the thinness of the plot, I should mention that writer Robert Towne did an admirable job of stringing together John Woo's action sequences, which were designed in advance of the film’s story.

At the start of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2, we find vacationing IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) being assigned a new task, which requires him to recruit a beautiful thief named Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandie Newton) for a job that requires her special services. Of course, Ethan chases her down, wears her down and finally beds her down before he himself discovers why Nyah has been recruited. From his superiors, Ethan leans that another IMF operative named Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) has turned rogue, killed an important scientist and made off with the scientist’s latest discovery, which he intends to sell to the highest bidder. How does Nyah fit into all of this? Well, it turns out that she is Sean Ambrose's former girlfriend. So, as quick as you can say NOTORIOUS, Nyah is bedding down with her old flame to gather information on behalf of the IMF. What the plot lacks in originality, John Woo's action sequences and visual flair more than make up for in their inventiveness. Woo pushes the envelope with his impeccable choreography and fluid camera work. Nobody does action like John Woo and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 shows exactly why he is the master of this particular art form. The cast of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 also features Ving Rhames, Richard Roxburgh, John Polson, Brendan Gleeson, Rade Serbedzija and an uncredited cameo by Anthony Hopkins.

With MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2, the folks at Paramount Home Entertainment have produced another outstanding DVD. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 is presented in its 2.35:1 aspect ratio and the DVD features the anamorphic enhancement for playback on 16:9 displays. The transfer itself provides a virtually flawless image, with superb definition that brings it into demonstration quality territory. Colors are bold and strongly saturated without any sign of chromatic distortion or smearing. Warmer hues tend to predominate, with flesh tones appearing quite healthy. Blacks are velvety and the picture provides excellent shadow detail, as well as wonderfully smooth contrast. Unless one spends their time looking for them, digital compression artifacts are unnoticeable on this nicely authored dual layer DVD. If you want to put your sound system through its paces, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 features an absolutely killer Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. The sound mix is big, loud and aggressive- everything you could possibly want from an action movie soundtrack. There is excellent channel separation all around, with every sound effect being distinctly reproduced. Additionally, dialogue remains clear and intelligible despite the almost continual barrage of sound effects that accompany the film numerous action sequences. The bass channel is rock solid, and when required, highly explosive. Music is nicely integrated into the mix and is reproduced without any harshness. A French Dolby Surround soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound effects enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection features, as well as a nice complement of supplements. Director John Woo provides an enjoyable running audio commentary that may be a bit hard for the casual listener to understand considering Woo's accent and the speed at which he speaks. Still, this is a worthwhile listen, even if you have to backtrack in a couple of spots. Also included on the DVD Behind The Mission, which is 15 minutes worth of cast and crew interviews that are standard PR fare. Impossible Shots breaks down 11 stunt sequences from the film and focuses on Stunt Coordinator Brian Smrz and his collaboration with director John Woo. Mission: Improbable is an MTV Movie Award parody of the film featuring Ben Stiller, as well as Tom Cruise and John Woo. The parody is quite funny, so be sure to check it out. An Alternate Title Sequence is also included on the DVD, as is the Metallica music video for the song I Disappear. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 is also DVD-ROM enabled for those who have a properly configured PC.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 is an enjoyable action movie made special by John Woo, who has turned the genre into an art form. Thanks to Paramount's top of the line presentation, this film really rocks on DVD. So, if you are even mildly interested in this flick, you can't go wrong by picking up this excellent disc. Recommended.

One final note: After seeing the wonderful job that Paramount has done on MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2, I hope Paramount will revisit the first movie and produce another unofficial collector’s edition that features a new 16:9 enhanced transfer and supplements.


Mission Impossible 2



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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