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Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol (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. The fourth film in the series, Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol was also one of my personal favorite IMAX films of all time.

Film 

Blamed for a terrorist attack on the Kremlin, Ethan Hunt and the entire IMF agency are disavowed by the U.S. government, while the president initiates the Ghost Protocol. Forced to go “off the grid” — left without resources or backup — Hunt must somehow clear the agency’s name and prevent another attack. Complicating matters even more, Ethan must undertake the impossible mission with a group of fellow IMF fugitives whose actual motives are suspect.

Another five years passed before another IMF mission was to take place. Leading up to the movie, it seemed there was a sort of indifference surrounding the series. The third film was deemed a disappointment and many felt like the series had run its course. In the down time, there was even a rumor that Brad Pitt was going to take over the franchise and Tom Cruise would be sent packing. Its kind of silly, considering Tom Cruise is one of the big time producers of the franchise behind the scenes. But, the series did return and it did have Tom Cruise, but there was some word with the casting of Jeremy Renner that the reigns would be passed to him (At the time, it seemed to be Renner’s calling, to be the “next guy”).

JJ Abrams had to bow out of directing duties for this film to shoot Super 8, which kept the carousel of franchise director’s circling. Pixar ace Brad Bird was chosen to direct Ghost Protocol. They cited his work on The Incredibles as the key thing that made him the choice. Let’s not forget that Bird also directed the fantastic Ratatouille and another all time greatest animated films of all time; The Iron Giant. This would be the first live action film Brad Bird would direct.

What sort of things can the director of animated films bring to a spy fantasy film? A lot of great things. Bird has a complete eye for action. Look no further than the obvious (Both Incredibles films) for your answer. Imagine him bringing those scene to life in a live action movie and that’s what you get with Ghost Protocol. Gone are the shaky cameras from the last film and there aren’t any constant slow motion fight scenes. No, this is good old terrific use of geography, set ups and pay offs and breathtaking stunt work captured in a way that allows you to see and feel what’s going on. The film is an action spectacle at its finest.

There are many masterful set pieces in this film. Twenty five minutes of the film were shot for IMAX (Footage not used on this home video release, though). And if you were able to see it that way, you were in for a treat. The centerpiece, a glass building climb in Dubai, may be the single most amazing thing I’ve personally seen in IMAX. Bird’s sequence and Cruise’s dedication to doing all his stunts made for an on edge, nerve wracking and heart stopping experience. Even now, watching at home, I still don’t trust that the scene is going to play out the same way it does every time.

But, lets not just sell Bird short on just big action and stunts. He draws back to the original film in this one for some more “quiet” suspense pieces. Ones that play more on giving you a goal, rules and constant obstacles to get through. Its the old school, Hitchcock type of suspense. There’s the hologram hallway sequence in the Kremlin (Inspired from the original television series) and an outstanding bit of game playing with a diamond/code exchange in a hotel where any slight reveal could prove disastrous. The film is just as good when its kicking, punching and shooting as it is when it is being stealthy. Bird truly encapsulates and realizes every bit of this Mission: Impossible series’ potential in one film.

While playing in spy fantasy, Mission: Impossible has largely played in its own sandbox. And while the series is no stranger to gadgets and travelogue, one can’t help but think this is the one where they decided to mix a little bit of James Bond into the franchise. There are gadgets throughout, but for once they aren’t afraid to go big or silly with them. There are still practical utilities like the printer inside the suitcase, but we are also privy to the gloves that help climb the building. Moving away from gadgets, there’s a sequence in which Paula Patton’s Agent Carter goes to a lavish hotel party and needs to seduce someone for information that feels very much right in the wheelhouse of a 007 mission.

Speaking of Patton, this was a real breakout role for her, but it wound up not breaking out for much (At the time of this review). She has a real presence here and kicks ass, brings the drama and showcases charisma that really lifts off the screen. But once again, she wouldn’t see the next impossible mission. Joining, too, is Jeremy Renner whose character is pretty adorable in this movie, and he’s able to bring some comedic chops where you’d otherwise might not expect from him.

Ghost Protocol has a really weak and pretty much nonexistent villain in terms of screen time (Played by the late, great Michael Nyqvist). It makes up for it in the absolute money team dynamic. These are characters that really speak to one another with purpose, humanity and respect one another. Everyone of them is a capable commodity to the team and the film. Each of them can kick ass, provide smarts, technical skills or take command of a situation and all of them can crack a good joke. Who is better at what, or gets to showcase an aspect more is dispersed, but there’s never a question of whether any of them is able to do their job or if any of them might be a weak link hampering missions.

Leading that team is Ethan Hunt once again. Tom Cruise returns with some kind of fire in his eye. I don’t know if the replacement talks were real or if they were, got to him, but he is more game than ever for this fourth outing. This might outright be his best performance of the series and could be his best in a big budget blockbuster ever. From the second he faces a camera until disappears into the fog at the end, he is the owner of every frame he walks into, no question. This is one of the best star turns in a film of this ilk, just showing why many consider Cruise to be larger than life.

In December of 2011, Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol was kind of met with indifference prior to release. One of its selling points was that it would open a week (or 2?) in IMAX early. In addition, if you saw it in IMAX, you got to see the first 6 minutes of The Dark Knight Rises. What a reversal happened. The Dark Knight Rises footage only brought complaints about Bane’s inaudible voice and Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol opened to rave reviews, probably the best ever for the franchise. It also wound up being well liked with very good word of mouth coming off those early IMAX screenings. With the fourth entry, they had managed to make the best film in the series and completely figure out what exactly the Mission: Impossible films should be. Suddenly, every one went from “Oh, another one…” and talks of maybe trying to retool without Tom Cruise to being completely jacked and wanting another Tom Cruise/Ethan Hunt adventure immediately.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol is natural 4K film finished with a 4K digital intermediate. And…holy f*** does this look outstanding! The image is just flush, full and all over your screen with massive amounts of texture and detail. The image is sharp, crisp and just looks real to the touch a lot of the time. The other films up to this point have looked very impressive, but Ghost Protocol is on a whole other level with its excellence. This may be one of my favorite images on the 4K Ultra-HD format all-time.

Depth:  One of the most impressive aspects of the picture is just how damn three dimensional it looks. There is so much space surrounding the actors and they feel free and released from it. Establishing shots with swooping camera movements with have you jaw on the floor. Everyone moves very naturally through every scene and big action brings no distortions.

Black Levels: Blacks are natural and well saturated throughout this film. Details come on quite strong and in darkness textures can still be made out. No crushing seen at all in this transfer.

Color Reproduction: Colors are absolutely beautiful here. There are many sequences with so many primary colors on display at once and they’ll all pop, but have plenty of shadings and tints to keep it full and pretty. HDR gets put to a lot of use with lights glowing, screens having graphics look rich and popping and things like car lights look quite good.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and maintain their look from the opening of the film to the start of the end credits. Facial features like cuts, scrapes, dried blood, grease, stubble, wrinkles, scars…you name it. From any given distance, it almost looks like seeing people through glass.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 7.1 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, French (Canada) 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, French (Canada), Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese, Finnish, Swedish

Dynamics: Eh, not Atmos track, but this 7.1 Dolby TrueHD one is a capable substitute. Its the same as the Blu-ray release from before. But its a hell of a mix. There is a terrific balance of score, effects and music on display throughout the film. Great depth and layering go into the environments and sound effects to really engage the viewing and not let go.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Explosions, gunfire, punches, doors slamming, engines and much more really bop deeply in the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: Leave no speaker left unturned! Every speaker here is a player and they are always giving some wonderful discerning sound. And not just low-key either, these things get cranked. Sound travel is Atmos level-loud, natural and fleeting. Such a fantastic, detailed and effect mix that will impress how right it gets everything and helps you stay in with the film.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp. Plenty audible during any action sequence and feeling very much a part of the environment.

Extras 

Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol 4K Ultra-HD comes with the standard 2-Disc Blu-ray edition and a digital copy of the film. All bonus features are found on the second Blu-ray disc.

Mission Accepted (HD, 48:04)

Impossible Missions (HD, 50:44)

Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary (HD, 15:02)

Trailers

  • Theatrical Trailer 1 (HD, 2:24)
  • Theatrical Trailer 2 (HD, 2:30)

Summary 

Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol is an outstanding top flight action film and one of the best of the new millennium without question. This 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray retains the already perfect 7.1 track, but now provides one of the best 4K Ultra-HD images we’ve seen. I’ll be surprised if people aren’t at least mildly impressed and if it isn’t at least seen as very good (How good, you mileage may vary). The previous bonus content (The second disc) is brought over here as well. Ghost Protocol is an immediate MUST OWN title!

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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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