Release Date(s)2006 (June 26, 2018)
Studio(s)Cruise/Wagner Productions (Paramount Pictures)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: B
[Editor’s Note: The film portion of this review is by Barrie Maxwell, edited from a look at the original 2006 HD-DVD release. The 4K and disc-based portions are by Bill Hunt.]
The first Mission: Impossible movie started off the franchise on a promising note. It was fairly well-acted and possessed of a fairly complex plot that actually allowed one to think a bit. Then came the sequel which, directed by John Woo, sacrificed intelligence for the sort of ridiculous action sequences that are somehow believed necessary to maintain attention nowadays. Now we have the third installment which was viewed in some quarters as a box office disappointment despite its $400M worldwide gross.
Written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and directed by JJ Abrams (chosen for their work on TV’s Alias), Mission: Impossible III finds IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) having retired from field work to train new agents. He’s also about to get married and start a normal life. But when a young agent that he personally trained and recommended gets captured, Hunt is called back into action find her and to stop the dangerous arms dealer who took her prisoner from causing still more damage.
The film itself is an improvement upon the previous one as more time is devoted to developing the Hunt character. To be sure, plenty of action is retained in diverse locations such as Berlin, the Vatican, and Shanghai. The best of these sequences is one set in the Vatican, which really captures the spirit of the old TV series. The Shanghai scenes look nice, but the premise of one of the major set-pieces there (our hero jumps off a building, swings on a cable like a pendulum from one skyscraper to another, and falls on a sloped roof where he manages to shoot two guards as he slides to the edge) stretches things. Still, the overall effect of the movie is diverting and makes for a decent popcorn experience. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Billy Crudup, Michelle Monaghan, Keri Russell, Eddie Marsan, and Laurence Fishburne all join the cast for this outing, while Ving Rhames returns as Luther, and Simon Pegg appears for the first time as IMF computer expert Benji Dunn.
Mission: Impossible III was shot on 35mm film using Panavision and Arriflex cameras with anamorphic lenses (with a little footage shot in Super 35 and HDCAM SR). It’s the first film in this series to have been finished as a Digital Intermediate, in this case at 2K resolution. For this release it was upsampled to 4K, graded for high dynamic range in both HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and its presented here on Ultra HD at the 2.39:1 theatrical aspect ratio. It’s not as much of an improvement over the previous Blu-ray releases as the first two films, but there is a slight gain in fine detail and more refined texturing. The HDR and wide color gamut enhance the image more significantly, with deeper blacks and brighter highlights, and the film’s color palette is both richer and more nuanced. Grain is generally more subtle and restrained than in the previous two films (reviewed here: M:I and M:1-2). Overall, this is a nice 4K image for an upsampled title.
Once again, audio on the 4K disc is included in a new English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD lossless mix, an upgrade from the previous Blu-ray’s lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital. The soundstage is medium wide, with smooth panning, and good atmospherics, but while it’s a significant improvement upon the BD track, it’s not as strong as the lossless mix on M:I-2. Set pieces have plenty of bluster, with strong bass, and aggressive surround play, but the dynamics are a bit more restrained, with the whole soundstage more front-biased. However, bass is firm, fidelity is excellent, and the dialogue is clean. Michael Giacchino provides the Lalo Schifrin-infused score this time, and his work is as strong as ever. Additional audio options on the 4K disc include English Audio Description, 5.1 Dolby Digital in German, Spanish, Latin Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, and Brazilian Portuguese. Optional subtitles include English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Danish, German, Spanish, Latin Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Norwegian, Brazilian Portuguese, Finnish, and Swedish.
The 4K disc includes only one extras, as follows:
- Audio Commentary by Tom Cruise and director J.J. Abrams
The package also includes the film in 1080p HD on Blu-ray (the same 2-disc set released previously), which also has the commentary on the first disc. The second disc adds the following bonus features (most in SD, produced for the original 2006 DVD release, but some in HD where noted):
- The Making of the Mission (HD – 28:42)
- Inside the IMF (21:15)
- Mission Action: Inside the Action Unit (25:39)
- Visualizing the Mission (10:40)
- Mission: Metamorphosis (HD – 8:09)
- Scoring the Mission (4:59)
- Moviephone Unscripted: Tom Cruise/J.J. Abrams (8:03)
- Launching the Mission (5 segments – 14:04 in all)
- Deleted Scenes (5 scenes – 5:21 in all)
- Theatrical Trailers (HD – 4 trailers – 5:23 in all)
- TV Spots (6 spots – 3:14 in all)
- Photo Gallery Excellence in Film (9:15)
- Easter Egg: Lost Emmy Nomination (:36)
The bonus material is solid and the inclusion of a rare commentary with Abrams and Cruise makes it all worthwhile. The Easter egg can be accessed from the special features menu on the second disc by selecting “up” with your remote from “Settings”. Note that the disc does not include the SD extras from the Best Buy-exclusive DVD bonus disc for this film (back in 2006), which added The Hunt Is On, Countdown Begins, Evolution of a Blockbuster, and Designing the Mission. (So if you have that bonus disc, you may wish to keep it.) Naturally, you also get a Digital Copy code on a paper insert in the case, which comes in its own cardboard slipcase.
Mission: Impossible III isn’t as good as the two sequels that followed it, but it’s a strong improvement from the previous film, which flirted too much with the ridiculous. It also gave the franchise a much needed foundation of continuity, deepening the central character and bringing together a nucleus of regular team members (Cruise, Rhames, and Pegg) that paved the way for further success. Hoffman also makes an unexpectedly good villain. Paramount’s 4K disc marks a modest improvement upon the previous HD-DVD and Blu-ray presentations and is recommended for fans.
- Barrie Maxwell and Bill Hunt