Plot: What’s it about?
Has it been ten years since “Mission: Impossible”? Evidently it has. I can remember the then less annoying Tom Cruise doing his media blitz and saying how this movie was his first all out action movie. Well, ten years and two sequels later a lot has changed for Mr. Cruise. The “Mission: Impossible” movies have always been entertaining for me and, much like the James Bond movies, if you suspend your disbelief and just sit back and enjoy the ride – odds are you’ll have a good time. This is the case with the latest installment in the trilogy; directed by “Lost” and “Alias” director J.J. Abrams. Not a bad way to start off your movie directing career, huh? “Mission: Impossible III” gives us a few things: an all-out action movie that leads the MI crew all over the globe and more of an insight to the private life of Ethan Hunt (Cruise). The crew is a bit different this time around with one of the most beautiful women in the world in a supporting role (that would be Keri Russell), Ving Rhames, Lawrence Fishburne, Michelle Monaghan and fresh off his Oscar win – Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Add it all up and you’ve got yourself a summer blockbuster.
In this installment we learn that Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has left his role in the field and is now in charge of training new IMF agents. His first was Lindsey (Keri Russell) has been captured while surveying arms dealer Owen Davian (Phillip Seymour Hoffman). Davian is the prime antagonist this go round and we quickly learn that he’s an icy and remorseless villain with little or no conscience. The IMF taps Ethan for a rescue mission, but things get complicated as Hunt’s fiancée, Julia (Michelle Monaghan) has no idea of his past or present as a spy. It’s up to Ethan to re-assemble a team which includes Luther (Ving Rhames), Declan (Johathan Ryhs Meyers) and Zhen (Maggie Q) to rescue Lindsey, stop Owen from obtaining the “Rabbit’s Foot” and naturally – save the world again. Is it all that easy? Of course not. Plenty of chases ensue and the action rarely stops in what is perhaps the best of the three “Mission: Impossible” movies.
Regardless if you’re a fan of these movies or not, they almost beg to be seen. The first was criticizes for being too difficult to follow the plot (hint: it’s been a decade and I’ve nearly got it figured out). The second had too much of John Woo’s stylistic touch and did what most sequels do, too much action (if there is such a thing). This latest installment has not only solidified the movie as a franchise, but the more character-driven script really gives us more of an insight into the life of Ethan Hunt while still providing us with the action that we line up to see. Are there more “Mission: Impossible” movies in the pipeline? Who knows. But with movies like “Rocky Balboa”, “Indiana Jones 4” and “Die Hard 4” – I’d say it’s pretty much a given.
Video: How does it look?
“Mission: Impossible III” is the latest big budget movie to hit HD DVD (and standard DVD and Blu-ray, all on the same day) and let me tell you, this is one of the finest HD DVD’s that I’ve had the pleasure of watching. Right up there with “Batman Begins” is this one for the best-looking live action movie out there. The 2.40:1 HD transfer literally leaves nothing to the imagination. Every scene is razor sharp, the colors almost literally leap off the screen and we get to see every detail of every pore in every actors face. Before the HD version arrived, I watched the standard DVD and I was pretty disappointed as it seemed that several of the outdoor shots had some vertical shimmering (on stairs, oddly enough). That’s been remedied here and the image is never compromised for an instant. “Mission: Impossible III” is perhaps the biggest movie to grace the HD format since its inception and it looks every bit as good as one could imagine.
Audio: How does it sound?
I was a bit surprised when I saw that this movie had a Dolby Digital Plus soundtrack, it would seem to me that this movie would scream “Dolby TrueHD” but nevertheless it isn’t so equipped. That’s ok, because what we have here is a great-sounding, robust track that gives every speaker a chance to flex its muscles. As you might imagine, there are plenty of pure action sequences that usually result in a car chase, a boat chase or at the very least something blowing up and it all sounds great in Dolby Digital Plus. Dialogue is very clean as well. Let’s just say that if you’re expecting something along the lines of a big budget action movie like “The Rock”, “Armageddon” or any of the previous “Mission: Impossible” movies you’ll know what to expect and this one delivers on all accounts.
Supplements: What are the extras?
It was bound to happen; it must sound so more appealing to advertise a DVD as a “Two-Disc” edition than just one. “Mission: Impossible III” is the first HD DVD to debut as a two disc set and it might not be a bad thing. The first disc contains the movie with an In Movie Experience by Tom Cruise and director J.J. Abrams. It’s important to note that this feature isn’t on the Blu-ray counterpart and obviously not on the standard DVD as well. Cruise and Abrams must have been joined at the hip during the production as the two do repeat a lot of information found on the featurettes, but it really does add to the pleasure of watching a movie. Their comments are candid, but they do tend to prattle on a bit too much and compliment each other way too much.
This leads us to the second disc which houses the rest of the supplements and most are just featurettes, but they do add a lot of information about the movie. It is important to note that a majority of these featurettes are shown in 1080 HD, which is a departure form the standard letterboxed featurettes we find on so many other HD DVD’s. These featurettes cover everything from how the movie was scored to the standard behind the scenes footage. We see how J.J. Abrams was chosen to direct the movie (Tom Cruise was watching “Alias” on TV and that was that), Cruise’s involvement with the production and the endless stream of compliments on Mr. Cruise and his willingness to do his own stunts (or most of them anyway). One of the more interesting featurettes concentrates on the prop that was used to make the mask in the movie. They went to great lengths to make this thing look real and though it’s somewhat inconsequential in the film, God is in the details, right? A series of deleted scenes are shown in letterboxed format and the same montage of Tom Cruise movies that’s present on the previous “Mission: Impossible” movies is shown here as well. Like I said, if you watch the In Movie Experience, a lot of this information is repeated on the featurettes, but for those that choose the Blu-ray route or the standard DVD route, you’re not missing a whole lot. Regardless if the “Mission: Impossible” movies are your cup of tea, this one looks and sounds outstanding – a real testament to the new HD DVD format.