Mission: Impossible 2 ________________________________________ Blu-ray Disc REVIEW Mission Impossible 2 Blu-Ray Studio: Paramount Pictures Film Year: 2000 Film Length: 2 hours 3 minutes Genre: Action/Adventure Aspect Ratio: • 2.35:1 Theatrical Ratio Film Resolution: 1080p Special features: 1080p/480i Video Codec: MPEG-2 Colour/B&W: Colour Audio: • English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround • French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish Film Rating: PG-13 Release Date: May 22, 2007 (As separate release) Film Rating: 3/5 Starring: Tom Cruise, Dougray Scott, Thandie Newton, Richard Roxburgh, John Polson, Brendan Gleeson, Rade Sherbedgia, Ving Rhames and Anthony Hopkins. Screenplay by: Robert Towne Story by Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga Based on Bruce Geller’s TV Series Directed by: John Woo MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2 has already been released on Blu-Ray DVD as part of a 3-pack containing all 3 films. The current release simply makes the first two movies available as individual Blu-Ray discs for sale. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2 is a departure from the first film in the current trilogy. Where the first entry was an interlocking puzzle, this one is a series of escalating stunt action and CGI set pieces designed by John Woo in his usual style following the success of his film FACE/OFF. The movie drags a bit in places and probably could have been 15 minutes shorter without losing anything, but the action sequences are spectacular throughout. The story here is actually pretty simple. Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is tasked with stopping a rogue agent played by Dougray Scott from unleashing a deadly flu virus on the world. Perhaps 15 minutes of the film’s running time is taken up with addressing this matter – the rest of the film is one major set piece after another. The film is primarily set in Sydney, Australia, although there are early sequences in the Moab buttes and in Seville. As such, the film spotlights the Australian locations nicely, and includes a diverse cast to keep the viewer’s attention between the gunfights, helicopter and motorcycle chases and other stunt diversions. Thandie Newton gets a lot of attention here as the Bond Girl of the piece, so to speak, but the real emphasis here is on the controlled mayhem John Woo brings to the table. Tom Cruise has mentioned that he wanted the MI series to be a different kind of movie each time. For this film, John Woo has supplied a kind of nonstop comic book that runs a little long but includes enough action to satisfy any of his fans, as well as any fans of the action movie genre. VIDEO QUALITY 5/5 MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2 is presented in a 1080p MPEG-2 transfer that is, like the first film, easily better than the prior releases available on standard definition DVD, including the latest one in 2006. (Again, I qualify that to say that with a 1080i upconversion, the difference is lessened, but with a large enough screen, you will easily be able to see it.) There are multiple places where the added resolution of the HD picture makes a big difference, including a major shootout/stunt skydiving sequence at the center of the film, and the pyrotechnics of the film’s climax. The amount of color and detail is striking, even more so than on the first film – there are many places throughout where Dougray Scott’s face and eyes are extremely sharp, and the Australian locations come across quite nicely. This is a great 1080p transfer, and to be honest, the transfer is the real reason to pick up this disc. AUDIO QUALITY: 4/5 MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2 is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital in English, French and Spanish. This is a very lively mix, given all the action sequences on display. All the channels and the subwoofer earn their pay for the week on this film, and once you get to the climactic action sequences, you’ll swear you’re in the middle of the shootouts between the music and the atmospheric effects. Hans Zimmer’s score is spotlit here, although this makes the similarities between this score and GLADIATOR quite clear. SPECIAL FEATURES: 3/5 The Blu-Ray release of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2 ports over most of the special features from the 2006 standard DVD release, with all the features presented in 480p standard definition. • Feature Commentary with John Woo. John Woo’s commentary from the original DVD release from 2000 has been included here. It is interesting to note that he saw the film as a character-driven film rather than an action movie. It is up to the viewer to make up their own mind about the final result. • Behind the Mission: The Making of MI-2 (14:28): This is a brief non-anamorphic standard definition featurette that gives a quick overall look at the making of the film. Cruise, Wagner and Woo briefly discuss what they had in mind with this installment. The usual mixture of film clips, interview video, and behind-the-scenes footage is presented. • Mission: Incredible (5:12): This brief non-anamorphic standard def featurette focuses on Tom Cruise performing his own stunts during the making of the film. • Impossible Shots (36:14 total): This is a collection of eleven quick non-anamorphic standard def featurettes about individual action sequence moments from the film. There is a plentiful amount of behind-the-scenes footage here, along with interviews with stunt coordinator Brian Smrz. • I Disappear – Metallica Video (4:33): A Metallica video in non-anamorphic standard def format is presented here. It includes footage from the film, and footage of Metallica playing their song, which in the film is heard over the end credits. • Alternative Titles (0:37): An alternate idea for the opening titles of the film is presented here. There isn’t much to this – it’s just an alternate graphic. As with the other features, this is presented in non-anamorphic standard def format. • Excellence in Film: Cruise (9:15): A collection of clips from various Tom Cruise films is included here, in non-anamorphic standard definition. This collection was put together for a 2005 BAFA event where Cruise was awarded the Stanley Kubrick Brittania Award for Excellence in Film. (On the standard definition DVD, Cruise’s acceptance speech at that event was also included. It is not included here.) • Generation: Cruise (3:36): A second collection of Tom Cruise film clips, also in non-anamorphic standard definition, is included as well. This one was put together for the 2005 MTV Movie Awards, where Cruise was awarded their first-ever MTV Generation Award. (Again, Cruise’s acceptance speech – which is decidedly different from his BAFTA appearance - is not included.) The only other featurette from the standard def release not included here is the MTV Movie Awards parody featurette “Mission: Improbable”. That piece, featuring Ben Stiller as stunt double Tom Crooze, probably isn’t needed here, but I must confess missing the footage. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish on the feature itself and in English for the featurettes. The same scene index from the 2006 release has been included here, and the menu interface is similar, albeit in HD. The usual pop-up menu capability is available here as you watch the film. The usual Paramount Blu-Ray trailer plays when you first put the disc in, but you can skip it with the menu button. IN THE END... As with the 1996 film, what we have here is the 2006 DVD, with a couple of acceptance speeches and a Ben Stiller parody removed from the special features, but with a new 1080p HD transfer included. As before, the trade-off is worth it. The Blu-Ray release with the better transfer is a better value. And if you haven’t seen a John Woo action movie on Blu-Ray, this is a great way to get started. Kevin Koster May 20, 2007.