Mission: Impossible on DVD
Despite his currently questionable state of sanity, Tom Cruise was (and could still be) the biggest movie star in the world.
Roles in such films as Top Gun, Interview with the Vampire, and A Few Good Men have helped him reach the top of the Hollywood A-list. And films such as Brian De Palma’s vastly underrated action thriller Mission: Impossible helped him stand the test of time.
There are few who aren’t familiar with Mission: Impossible, as it is not only based on a very well-known TV show, it also has one of the most recognizable theme tunes in television history.
In the first of the big screen versions, we quickly meet Ethan Hunt and his team, and are introduced into the kind of work they do, and how they do it. Using sophisticated technology, he and his team are called in to do the “impossible” missions that normal Joe Schmos would never be able to handle.
But on his latest assignment, it appears someone knew they were coming, and his entire team is killed in action. Naturally, being the only survivor, his superiors (who are already on the lookout for a mole) assume he is the culprit. So Mr. Hunt not only has to clear his name, but also find the man (or woman) that set him up.
On the surface, we couldn’t help but notice that this film is essentially the exact same story as Minority Report (another Cruise vehicle). However, both are exceptional films, and their similarities end there. How the concepts are followed through is quite different, indeed. While Minority Report is set in the future, Mission is set in present day, so the technology is more real and modern. And Mission is less a film noir than it is an action thriller.
Upon the film’s release theatrically, many complained about it really not making a lot of sense. Unfortunately, it’s simply the kind of movie you need to pay attention to, for fear of missing something imperative. It all makes sense, at least once they explain it to you, even if you have to think about it for a while afterwards to make sure all the pieces fit.
Veteran director Brian De Palma adds a very nice, distinct touch to the film. Everything looks gorgeous, and he seems to be able to naturally focus on style without taking away from the story in any way. In other words, he has a natural style that can be forged around the project, taking a movie and making it his own without really having to do anything. That is the mark of a great director.
Mission: Impossible is a fine, fine film. It has a great build up that leads up to a very worthy climax, some great effects and performances, and it’s all brought together by the touch of a veteran director. Infinitely better than the garbage that was the sequel, the first in the series is very highly recommended.
Initially a bare-bones DVD release, Paramount has finally honored the fine film with a fine DVD presentation. The 2.35:1 anamorphic video is excellent, with superb color and detail, and only some softness in a few scenes. The audio really sells the disc, with all five speakers getting a great workout, particularly during the climax. There’s also a scene that uses little sound at all, and the track does an excellent job of keeping things quiet, yet intense. Very nicely done.
As rumor has it, Tom Cruise is responsible for the lack of an audio commentary. Apparently, he and De Palma didn’t see eye to eye, and therefore the legendary director is absent. The other extras on the disc are good, but not full of enough real substance to make them great. “Mission: Remarkable” chronicles the 40 years of the series, but really focuses a lot more on the movies. This is a shame, since younger folks aren’t too familiar with the old show and this would have been a perfect opportunity to learn. “Explosive Expoits” talks about Tom Cruise doing his own stunts, while “Excellence in Film” and “Generation: Cruise” are tribute montages to the actor’s work. It’s nice to know that people like him so much, but would these bits not be more suited on a “best of Tom Cruise” DVD or something? Seriously.
“International Spy Museum” gives us a look as to what’s on display at the international spy museum. This was not nearly as cool as we were hoping…
“Spies Among Us” gives us a chance to hear what some real-life former spies have to say about, well…whatever they feel like. “Catching the Train” tells us how great the climax is, as if we didn’t already know. “Agent Dossiers” is a look at the movie characters’ résumés.
Finally, there are some trailers and TV spots for the first and third films in the series. The audio and video are worth the price of the disc, but most of the extras are rather unremarkable.
Mission: Impossible, from Paramount Home Entertainment
Jim Bray's columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.
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