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Mission: Impossible 2 (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

In preparation and celebration of the upcoming Mission: Impossible: Fallout, the sixth film in the Tom Cruise-led spy fantasy series, Paramount Home Entertainment will be releasing the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray debuts of each of the five previous films in the franchise. You’ll be able to relive all the exciting espionage, mask wearing trickery and death defying stunts that have captivated audiences for the last 22 years. From Ethan Hunt dangling from the ceiling of a top secret room in CIA headquarters to holding onto a plane 1,000 feet in the air, the Mission: Impossible series has known how to constantly push the envelope within the confines of its own world. On June 26th, your mission – should you choose to accept – will be to upgrade your collection with all five films on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray. Why So Blu will be reviewing each one. We continue on to the second installment that gave legendary action game-changing director John Woo the reigns to the Impossible Mission Force.

Film 

Tom Cruise returns to his role as Ethan Hunt in the second installment of Mission: Impossible. This time Ethan Hunt leads his IMF team on a mission to capture a deadly German virus before it is released by terrorists. His mission is made impossible due to the fact that he is not the only person after samples of the disease. He must also contest with a gang of international terrorists headed by a turned bad former IMF agent who has already managed to steal the cure.

Mission: Impossible 2 wasn’t going to be another trip through the same IMF park. It very much wants to distance itself from the first film as much as possible in order to attract those who may have been turned off by the first film, while hoping the fans of it return for another impossible mission. It makes a substantial director change behind the camera and wants to pump up with much more action and a lot less depth and a more simple and less intricate plot. There are things that would be retained, but this is a largely new adventure, down to Cruise’s longer and more feathery hair.

For the sequel, Tom Cruise brought on board Hong Kong action legend John Woo. Genre fans know how much Woo changed the game and had a fresh, personal style that clearly left his stamp on things. And its apparent that Cruise wanted ALL of what John Woo can bring to the table. If there was a checklist of things to confirm a John Woo film, Mission: Impossible 2 probably ticks off damn near every box on it. This overload ends up playing out as a parody of John Woo films to a snickering degree rather than bolstering wowing visuals and breathtaking action moments.

What are some of the things that entails? Well, there is A LOT of slow motion employed in the film. Some of it is natural and there are also moments that are that annoying post production forced slow motion. Big kicks and other theatrical fight moves are embellished by having them take their time to land. Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt has become much more a fighter in this film than before. Gunplay involves a lot more jumping and diving as is known to be the signature move for a Woo film. Oh, and don’t worry, there are plenty of Doves that show up for the film’s climactic moments. There are also lots of quick zooms at character’s faces and cuts to random background things like waves in the ocean, for instance, to give some sort of emotional impact that really place better for a Hong Kong film than an American one.

Going full Woo for this film has its level of ridiculousness, but it also gives the film a complete identity that never backs down from what it is. Its confident in its approach. And this is an important step in the series. Brian De Palma was a more classic and seasoned American director, and he got to make his film last time out. Here, Woo is allowed that same luxury. While a completely different approach and style all around, it sets the standard for what this series would be known for. Every film would be a completely recognizable product, not as simply a Mission: Impossible film, but as a piece of the given director’s filmography.

There are other changes that really want to distance this movie from the original. I mentioned Cruise’s hair, but that was a big sticking point when this movie came out for some reason. With the pick of Woo and some other choices, they are wanting to aim to hook in a more youthful crowd. This one played big with the MTV crowd, too. Instead of a classical orchestra scoring the film, the original theme song as well as other moments, its replaced by heavy metal renditions and fills. As someone who was 18 years old when the film came out, like the nu-metal music of the time, it did the trick, but has aged rather poorly.

Not everything is dumped, though, the series retains some things from the first film while making some decent additions. Ving Rhames, the only survivor next to Cruise from the first movie, is brought back to assist in the mission. While its not quite the same, they still do an opening credits sequence following an opening sequence. One thing this movie apparently did take note of from the first one that people dug, was the masks used to disguise and infiltrate. This one adds a voice changing device, and then goes to town with the gimmick as to where it almost overdoes it.

The best thing to happen to the X-Men films is Mission: Impossible 2, and its probably the worst thing to happen to Dougray Scott, who plays the villain. Due to reshoots, he had to remove himself from the role as Wolverine. And here he’s not very good, and he didn’t really take off from it. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Thandie Newton is a terrific addition and a big improvement over Emmanuelle Beart from the previous film. She’s a fun character that shares some fun, playful chemistry with Cruise and also proves useful as a part of the team during this big mission. As goes the series, though, she is disposed of after this entry.

Where this film gets things completely wrong is mistaking the strength and fun of the Mission: Impossible dynamic. We all go to these movies because we love seeing Cruise in the role and doing awesome stunts. However, he needs a fun team to go with it. This movie is pretty much all Ethan Hunt all the time. His team has Luthor again and some Australian pilot who really adds nothing. Ethan Hunt really has no depth other than being super agent protagonist. Its not too much Cruise, its not enough group effort on the part of a team. Most of the film is him doing everything and you wonder why a team needed employed in the first place. Of note though, this is the one movie where he stays on task and doesn’t find himself gone rogue at any point.

This dumbed down, hyper-stylized take on Mission: Impossible earns every little bit of criticism you want to throw at it. But, in the end, its still a really entertaining popcorn flick due to the sheer confidence it has in itself and just how well done a lot of the stylization is. Woo and company go very big with this, and that’s never not entertaining be it having yourself in awe or having yourself a giggle. The gamble of going in a completely different direction not only set the stage for the rest of the series, but it also paid off. Mission: Impossible 2 was the highest grossing film of 2000, taking in over half a billion dollars worldwide. The film was also very iconic during that year and still easily has imagery recalled in ones head when it comes up. This may be the low point of the entire series, but manages to be enjoyable enough.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Mission: Impossible 2 finds itself a sizable jump in picture quality from its standard Blu-ray counterpart. The image is a much more 3 dimensional looking one, with a more naturally lit appearance. Details and textures are far more rampant. A leather handbag in the opening shows interesting signs of wear and defects and stainless steal canisters show every little bit of polish and scratch on their finish. Its a much more bold and full looking bit as well. It must be said, that with every new jump in quality for Mission Impossible 2, the curtain pulls back even more on its visual effects. With regular Blu-ray, wires and bungee cords became visible and here they are even more apparent than they were before. In addition, during Thandie Newton’s introduction in Spain, there is a weird 3-layered transparent image of Tom Cruise/Newton, a close up of a dancer and the shot of the crowd behind them. There are color timing and quality differentials that expose some obvious green screen work and instead of being effective, it looks pretty weird. Overall, the image is far improved and most of the movie sits looking the best it ever has.

Depth:  The spacing between actor and environment is much more loose, unattached and free than ever before. You get a real, three dimensional feel as the actors play in the frame. Movements are very cinematic, natural and smooth with no issues handling rapid or quick motions that wind up having jittering or blurring issues with the action.

Black Levels: Blacks are very natural with great saturation that help pull for a terrific look on the film.  Black clothing even retains every little detail as you can make out some fuzz and a knitting pattern on a beanie Cruise wears as well as leather showing every little kink or crack in it. This goes for hair follicles and surface textures (Like a reflective gloss on a helicopter) as well.

Color Reproduction: Colors come on more natural here. Reds look quite luscious, whether they be from a beautiful Spanish dress or a blood drooling from a freshly punched nose. HDR does put in some solid work with monitors, a red light on a pair of binoculars and some blue background lights that are featured in the exchange room in the finale. Explosions are a thing of beauty in this film as they roar off of the screen while also being incredibly detailed.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones have a natural, slightly warm, look to them and keep their color from beginning to end of the film. Sweat, freckles, stubble, wrinkles, acne scars and more come through quite no matter what distance the camera is giving.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, English Audio Description, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin America) 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Danish, German, Spanish, Spanish (Latin America), French, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese, Finnish, Swedish

Dynamics: Mission: Impossible 2 has been given the lossless treatment finally, having previously only hung around in the Dolby Digital realm. This new mix is ferocious and really kicks you in the face with its action. The mix is set to be very loud and pushes and pushes. From a loud Spanish party to a raging car chase that finishes the film,. you’ll be energized constantly. The score especially really expresses itself quite loudly here, but it never outdoes the sound effects and vocals are always clear and as they should be appropriately heard when in the given circumstances of the scene.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Engines, gun blasts, booming explosions and the score really pulsate and push your subwoofer to really bring the thunder.

Surround Sound Presentation: This mix likes to have its fun up front, but it doesn’t stop the rear channels to contributing little bits of unique fun here and there when appropriate. They do help to fill a uniform sound in a room and also really push some rear to front or front to back sound travel. Things are pretty intricate with accurate volume placement as well.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are plenty present, crisp and clear, whether it be a quiet plane ride or a blistering hail of gunfire surrounding conversation.

Extras 

Mission: Impossible 2 4K Ultra-HD comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a digital copy of the film. Aside from the feature commentary, all bonus features are found on the standard Blu-ray disc.

4K UHD

Audio Commentary

  • By Director John Woo

Blu-ray Disc

Behind the Mission (SD, 14:28)

Mission Incredible (SD, 5:12)

Impossible Shots (SD, 34:17)

I Disappear – Metallica (SD, 4:33)

Alternate Title Sequence (HD, :37)

Excellence in Film (SD, 9:15)

Generation: Cruise (SD, 3:36)

Summary 

Mission: Impossible 2 is silly and dumb, but its also still plenty of fun at the end of the day. Paramount once again completely improves upon the previous Blu-ray edition a very big leap in both the picture and audio departments. Having he old Blu-ray packaged gives you retention of all of the bonus material previously available (Though, not any trailers of the super funny Ben Stiller stunt man sketch). For those looking to upgrade or completing the 4K collection of the films, this has truly done the task of making it worth the jump.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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