Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol on Blu-ray

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol on Blu-ray

Fasten your home theater's seat belts; Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a wild ride.

The fourth in the Mission: Impossible big screen entries brings director Brad Bird to the live action big screen field, and his touch is all over this film. Bird, who directed the incredible The Incredibles, displays a sure touch in this lighthearted action flick that practically demands you have a supersized popcorn handy when you watch it.

And the result brings never a dull moment as the movie's 132 minute running time whizzes past, barely giving you time to catch your breath.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) out Bonds James Bond in this tale of post-Cold war intrigue. Hunt has tremendous intelligence and experience, total fearlessness (or so it appears) and finely honed skills. Add to that the neat technology brought to the impossible mission that unfolds here and you have the ingredients for a first rate spy flick.

And that's what you get. It isn't atmospheric or serious like some East/West spy flicks, but it's imaginative and features nearly non-stop action, exotic locations, excellent special effects and huge stunts. For what more could you ask from a fun romp that never takes itself too seriously?

The story begins with Hunt in a Russian prison, which gives us chance to be amazed at how a small group of super agents who – other than Simon Pegg as the nerdy tech guy – seem, unfortunately, to be a little out of place next to the human dynamo that is Hunt, can get in and get themselves and Hunt out against overwhelming odds.

And that sets the mood for the flick, which just gets more and more exciting and over the top as it unfolds.

After Hunt's rescue by agents Carter (Paula Patton) and Dunn (Pegg), they join his team in the super secret mission to infiltrate the Kremlin, track down the mysterious "Cobalt," retrieve some important files, and prevent armageddon.

The rest of the movie shows us how they accomplish that, culminating with them saving San Francisco from nuclear annihilation just in the nick of time.

The film's sense of humor helps us suspend our disbelief at such things as Tom Cruise doing the human fly routine outrageously high on a highrise, and though Pegg is basically the comedy relief (not to discount the importance or competence of his character, both of which are great) he's infectious and it appears obvious that no one in the cast is taking the film too seriously, with the possible exception of the bad guys and the newest member of the team (Jeremy Renner), who appears to have joined almost by osmosis.

The Blu-ray we received was a three disc set that included 2 Blu-rays and a DVD. You can also supposedly download a digital copy.
We're concerned only with the Blu-ray, though, and it's an excellent examaple of the species.

The1080p Blu-ray transfer is fantastic, with a finely detailed picture that's a real treat. Colors are rich and deep, the black level is excellent and the whole shebang is clear and detailed and lovely. It's one of those pop off the screen titles that look so great on a good video display.

The audio is also completely up to snuff and deserves full marks. The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless soundtrack runs the gamut from big explosions to intimate moments, and handles it all beautifully.

Sounds are placed all around you, but naturally as if actually positioned there and not just part of some audio mix done in a studio. Channel separation is lovely, as is directionality, and there's enough low frequency effects channel use to please fans of the biggest home theater rumbles.

The second Blu-ray is full of extras. In "Mission Accepted – Suiting Up in Prague," director Bird joins Cruise (wearing his producer's hat), and co-producer J.J. Abrams talk about the production. Some cast and crew are also around to talk about their part of the film. It's a pretty good piece.

"Mission Accepted – Heating Up in Dubai" looks at the location, along with the benefits/challenges of shooting some of the death-defying scenes there. "Vancouver Fisticuffs" looks at shooting in that west coast Canadian city, "Impossible Missions – The Russian Prison, focuses on how they shot the prison break (in an abandoned Czech prison), including some info on Brad Bird's transition from animation to live action.

There's also a featurette on what it's like shooting in IMAX, another on how they turned Prague into Russia, how the giant sandstorm was created,  and others that look at the props,  the work of composer Michael Giacchino and some deleted scenes.  
Movie franchises such as this can get stale and predictable, but if Cruise and company can keep the quality at the level they've achieved in this fourth outing, we look forward to many more Missions: impossible.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, from Paramount Home Entertainment
132 min. 1080p/24 widescreen, Dolby TrueHD 7.1

Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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