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Mission: Impossible III (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. As we jump from one couch to the next, we now come to the JJ Abrams’ helmed Mission: Impossible III.

Film 

Retired from active duty, and training recruits for the Impossible Mission Force, agent Ethan Hunt faces the toughest foe of his career: Owen Davian, an international broker of arms and information, who is as cunning as he is ruthless. Davian emerges to threaten Hunt and all that he holds dear — including the woman Hunt loves.

Mission: Impossible had gone through a pretty dormant stage with a six year gap between the second and third entries. It was feeling like a nice well for Tom Cruise to recharge in with one-offs, rather than being more of an ongoing series. At the time, it would be pretty similar to Will Smith and his relationship to the Men In Black films. This third entry would be overshadowed by an Oprah appearance by Tom Cruise, his personal life coming more into the spotlight and box office expectations not being fully met as opposed to really anything about the actual film itself. Which is a pretty darn good summer movie.

The series continued its trend of making a film that was full portrait of the director helming it from top to bottom. For the third one, they would be producing the feature film directorial debut of JJ Abrams. Now, how can this be a perfect display of everything JJ Abrams if he’d never directed a film before? Well, JJ Abrams was a hot television commodity, one of the many people changing the game, establishing and crafting this golden era of television we’d come to. With series like Alias and Lost roaring through people’s homes and business’ water cooler discussions, he was a terrific choice for the film.

Abrams’ Alias was a weekly serialized spy fantasy that pretty much led to him being the perfect choice for the film. Mission: Impossible III basically plays like a condensed season of Alias with the budget of summer Hollywood blockbuster. From the visual look of the show to the character work on display, Alias has imprinted itself on the Mission: Impossible series and helped lead us to where we are now. While the film may be the lowest grossing of the series (I don’t know if it or the second is the consensus least popular), its an very important step for the franchise as it would kick start the beginning of a more serialized focuse.

Who exactly is Ethan Hunt? Its a fair question that this third film decides to ask. We’ve been with the guy for two films prior and he’s honestly a blank slate, just fueled by the fact that he’s played by superstar Tom Cruise doing wicked stunts. JJ Abrams decides not to give us some unnecessary backstory, but instead to sort of restart him and give us a more personal look at who he has become outside of IMF (He starts the film retired), giving him some more personal touches. He has friends and a fiance/wife now and he also has a former protege that he must cope with the loss of at his own hands. Its more than just, “Hey looks, its Luther, he’s been in two movies”. Luther is here again, but this time they get dialogue acknowledging that they’re a little more than just these two dudes who were in two movies together.

There are many factors that are the product of Abrams coming from TV that leak into the third impossible mission. Character work, as we just mentioned, is one of the them. The story very much has some intricate stuff with lots of people and twists and turns. Said characters a chock full of television actors. They rather fill up the cast list, from Keri Russell to Aaron Paul to a little one line part played by Tracy Middendorf, you’ll recognize lots of faces from your smaller screen here. Camera work is almost identical to Alias with its shaky documentary-style look in regular old dramatic scenes. Some of the action unfortunately resembles it too, but Abrams is able to pull of some doozies and grow as a director within this film itself. There’s a fantastic scene on a bridge with helicopters (The trailers focused on this) and the fisticuffs with Owen Davian is jolting and intense to the finish.

Speaking of Davian, Mission: Impossible III boasts the best villain of the series to date. Argue all you want about your favorite film in the series, your personal ranking…there is no denying that’s the big strength of the film. And possibly if its not played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman it could’ve been pretty bland. Upon rewatches, he’s not in a whole lot of the movie, but damn does he make his presence felt. Abrams makes sure to give us a look ahead early to show what a presence the guy is, so he sticks in your head the whole time. Hoffman brings a vile confidence to the role and a fantastic intensity. With the villains before, they just felt like villains on the page, but Hoffman wants you to know that his is not afraid of Tom Cruise at all. He gives zero F’s if the guy lives happily ever after of lives at all. While we all know things probably turn all right, with the energy the Oscar winner is bringing, even if you’ve seen the movie, you still doubt the well-being of our heroes.

The new players in the film are a wonderful blend of memorable and forgettable. Michelle Monaghan is quite fun here as the fiance and really gives Hunt more of a true personal stake that conflicts his spy work and personal life and leaves him with the dilemma. His team mostly sticks. Jonathan Rhys Meyers falls flat and can’t pull of comedy very successfully at all. Simon Pegg obviously is lovable because he’s Simon Pegg and his Benji would wind up sticking around. Maggie Q rocks as a stand out, but for some reason or another (Probably the ‘ol schedule conflict excuse), she wasn’t brought back for another film. Though, I’d love to see her return if the opportunity were to arise again.

In terms of identity, JJ Abrams really is more of a chameleon with his filmmaking. Mission: Impossible III may be the closest thing we have to what a true JJ Abrams film would look like. Then again, he’s cribbing off of his television series Alias for it. If there is one thing he excels at, its that he’s very observant and keen to what has does and doesn’t work when being handed off something to continue it. In this third Mission: Impossible, he’s kept the action bumped up and more at the forefront, while also giving us a smarter plot with a bit more rich characters to support it.  And for his own touches, he’s gives Ethan Hunt a world that lives and breathes and can live outside of the film that just happened between films. Mission: Impossible III isn’t necessarily a return to form following the second film (This series just doesn’t do that), but its a refreshing readjustment and new path to take while giving us new unique action that doesn’t feel like something we’ve all seen before already.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Another Mission: Impossible, another nice jump in quality. I don’t know if its as big of a leap as the first two films received, but its a very nice and clearly discernible one nonetheless. I feel weird scoring it the same, but it is what it is (Go ahead and ridicule about our site’s unreliability, that’s fair). These have been pretty consistent in their look three films in so far. The film is even more detailed and more natural looking than before. Granted, a lot of it is very shaky, but you can still get a good look at things in the grand scheme of things. The look of it is a bit more blue than I seem to remember it being before. Details are very strong, as you get good texture from any surface, object or article of clothing on display in the film. Even seeing just the crispness of shattering glass looks pretty cool here. There was a little (to me) minor issue that occurred during a sequence that I’ll talk about a little more below. Aside from that, this image is rather terrific and as good as you’d hope.

Depth:  Overall, the film has some really great looking dimensional work on display. However, there are some moments, like shots on the bridge, helicopter chases and the rooftops of Japan that just looks beautiful in the capturing and display of their camerawork and smooth undistorted presentation here.

Black Levels: Blacks are a complete strong suit here. There are a lot of rich night sequences in the film that are well saturated and feel very natural. Textures, details and such come through very good on dark surfaces and in nighttime or darkly lite areas. No crushing witnessed during this viewing.

Color Reproduction: Colors are really flush and look quite full here. Blues are a real strong suit and glow with lens flare, lights and such. Laser aim early on, monitors in dark areas and little lights all benefit from some HDR bump. The nighttime stuff in Japan looks pretty bad ass and glows well from the HDR, too.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from the opening moments of the film til the end credits begin rolling. Facial details are outstanding as every little cut, scrape, dried bit of blood, rubbed in dirt, bead of sweat and other normal skin textures come through plain as day from any reasonable distance.

Noise/Artifacts: There was one moment where I did notice a hair of a blocking issue with one explosion during the big escape of Owen Davian action sequence going on on the bridge. Its not major, but I noticed it ever so slightly being there.

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: Relief again as another Dolby Digital track now becomes TrueHD. This is again a loud and in your face experience with fantastic action dynamics, having effects that are layered and have good quality depth. Both lifelike and enhance theatrics in the sound design give a really fulfilling and engaging viewing. The mix is blended and balanced quite well with the dialogue, sound effects and music/score all getting to show prominence while never drowning one another out.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Punches landing, explosions, gunfire, helicopters chopping, loud truck engines, debris crumbling and much more really give a nominal kick from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: This track has a lot of fun playing with motion and knowing where everything is both on and off screen. Rear channels take on a life of their own during the big set pieces. You’ll hear rockets from behind you and feel them travel to the front which explodes and roars all the way back to the rear channels again. Volume placement is quite good and as mentioned, sound travel is accurate and superb.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp. They get plenty loud and hold their own during all of the action sequences.

Extras 

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

4K UHD

Audio Commentary

  • By Tom Cruise and Director JJ Abrams

Blu-ray Disc 2

The Making of the Mission (HD, 28:42)

Inside the IMF (SD, 21:15)

Mission Action: Inside the Action Unit (HD, 25:39)

Visualizing the Mission (HD, 10:40)

Mission: Metamorphosis (HD, 8:09)

Scoring the Mission (HD, 4:59)

Movifone Unscripted: Tom Cruise / JJ Abrams (SD, 8:03)

Launching the Mission (SD, 14:04)

Deleted Scenes (SD, 5:21)

Theatrical Trailers (HD, 5:23)

Summary 

Mission: Impossible III sacrifices a bit of style and craft for some welcome depth and character work for an exciting entry into the series. Once again, we see a jump in picture quality and audio, making the upgrade worthwhile for fans of the series. You once again keep all the extras from before as the 2-disc Blu-ray edition is included with the combo pack. A pretty easy pick up for any fan of this series.

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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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