Tom Cruise reprises his role as the somber secret agent Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie focuses the plot on fighting The Syndicate terrorist organization as much as on Ethan Hunt's personal journey, making this the best installment in the series. The Blu-ray arrives with exceptional video, a reference-quality Dolby Atmos soundtrack, and a healthy collection of supplements. The overall package is Highly Recommended for action fans who have not yet upgraded to 4K (reviewed HERE).
Without giving away too much, Christopher McQuarrie's Mission: Impossible – Fallout essentially brings the Ethan Hunt saga full circle, connecting all the entries in the franchise into one continuous storyline about a man haunted by a past full of remorse and choices that only lead to more of the same. Tom Cruise reprises his role once more as the highly-elite covert operative with a notably weightier and somber demeanor than in the previous movies — and it's not only due to the burden and strain of having to save a good portion of Earth's population this time around. Audiences have seen the character grow and evolve for the last twenty years, especially since J.J. Abrams' involvement in the 2006 third installment. As Henry Cavill's CIA assassin August Walker so succinctly summarizes for us, Hunt has been betrayed, disavowed and cast aside by his own government many times, sacrificing a great deal of his own personal happiness for little in return. By this point in his career where he is reminded of that sacrifice, our hero seems constantly teetering on the edge of breaking.
It's this weight and clout hanging over Hunt's head that particularly and most impressively affects this sixth chapter to the series. The title Fallout is not only in reference to the possible devastation caused by notorious rogue agent Solomon Lane's (Sean Harris) twisted aspirations, but it is also suggestive of something a bit more gut-wrenching and personal. At the core of McQuarrie's script, who also penned Rogue Nation as well as The Usual Suspects, Jack Reacher and Edge of Tomorrow, we are witness to the aftermath of choices made throughout the years finally accruing and encumbering our hero's current state. Aside from one sensationally jaw-dropping, daredevil stunt to the next, the plot progresses by Hunt gripped in situations where he's forced to make choices. In fact, action sequences are even the result of these choices — a constant cause and effect dilemma. And Hunt is continuously caught in a plight of deciding the value of one life versus many, a personal sense of morality that's guided him here and made him the IMF agent he is now.
Standing in for the opposing side of this philosophical quandary is Solomon Lane, the anarchist leader of the terrorist organization The Syndicate, and his mysterious militant follower John Lark, who views the death of many for the greater good as just — a repeated sentiment from a manifesto he wrote reminding us of the film's central theme. Lane and Lark participate in a vast network of highly fascinating and complex villain archetypes with a loaded sense of purpose, a network that's been steadily growing in the last couple of years. In Fallout, they seem smarter and more competent than our hero due to a committed, near fundamentalist faith to their cause, an unshakable devotion to an objective bred from a principled morality that's curiously relatable and morbidly logical. This adherence to achieving their goal is a bleakly problematic challenge for Hunt because how does one efficiently combat such conviction. At one point, Lane rejects, and even feels offended by, his actions being associated with terrorism, seeing violence as a tool for bettering humanity.
An even more telling comment is when Lane bluntly points out Hunt's good intentions over the years are coming back to haunt him, and McQuarrie refreshes our memories in subtly engrossing ways, sprinkling Mission: Impossible – Fallout with a medley of thinly-veiled allusions to previous installments. Arguably, the return of Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg serve as part of this since they've been with Hunt during his most taxing, death-defying trials while new choices and more reckless exploits welcome Alec Baldwin, Rebecca Ferguson, and Angela Bassett into the fold. However, the allusions come by way of the many insanely wild stunts, which feel reminiscent of similar stunts from its predecessors while also raising the stakes, almost as if to suggest Hunt's past experiences have trained him for this fight. But on a more important note, this follow-up is, at once, the best entry in the entire series, defying all expectations for a sequel, and the perfect remedy to many contemporary action flicks, favoring white-knuckle practical visuals over a dependency on CGI effects.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Paramount Home Entertainment brings Mission: Impossible – Fallout to Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack with a Digital Copy, which can be redeemed via ParamountMovies.com. The Region-Free, BD50 disc sits comfortably opposite a DVD-9 copy inside the standard blue, eco-vortex case with glossy slipcover, and it includes a glossy 12-page booklet with pictures and quotes from the filmmakers about the stunts. At startup, viewers can skip over several trailers before being greeted by a static screen with the usual selection along the bottom and music playing in the background.
The sixth installment mounts the biggest rescue mission yet, dropping down into home theaters outfitted with an exceptional 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode.
Shot on a combination of traditional 35mm and 8K digital cameras, the freshly-minted transfer comes with razor-sharp definition in nearly every scene, exposing the tiniest wrinkle and stitch in the clothing, and every unique feature of the European architecture is plainly visible. Individual hairs in Tom Cruise's perfectly-manicured hairdo flow in the wind while each whisker in Henry Cavill's unshaven face is distinct. However, Rob Hardy's stylized photography also falls on the slightly softer side of things during certain scenes, such as the nightclub party in Paris, but these moments are intentional and still maintain outstanding clarity and detailing. Also, from beginning to end, the picture charges in with spot-on contrast, supplying the action with crisp, brilliant whites that glow intensely tight highlights without ever blooming. Along with the aforementioned nightclub scene, the car chase through the Parisian streets offer some excellent demo-worthy moments in terms of contrast.
Interestingly, the creative cinematography mildly affects other areas of the HD presentation, starting with the brightness levels. Overall, blacks are strong and steady for a majority of the runtime, providing the image with rich, ebony shadows that penetrate deep into the screen without ruining the finer aspects of the darkest, murkiest corners. At its best, such as the helicopter chase through the Kashmir mountains or daylight exteriors in the streets of Paris, blacks are inky, but in a few scenes, such as when characters are underground, the shadows lose a bit of their luster, looking a bit more grayish. Meanwhile, primaries are full-bodied and sumptuous with the reds of blood and some articles of clothing being the most dramatic while greens saturate the surrounding foliage with life and energy. The video also displays a lovely array of secondary hues and softer pastels, showering the sunset scenes with a gorgeous orangey-yellow glow while facial complexions come with a lifelike, natural appeal.
On a side note, the presentation comes with alternating aspect ratios, switching between 2.39:1 and 1.90:1 IMAX sizes for those action sequences taking place in the sky or through mountains. Although faithful to the filmmakers' intentions, CIH enthusiasts will want to make the proper adjustments. Personally, I found the 2.20:1 aspect ratio a good comprise for enjoying the movie during these scenes. (Video Rating: 92/100)
Joining this stressfully nerve-wracking excursion to stop the greatest suffering is this awesome, edge-of-your-seat, reference-quality Dolby Atmos soundtrack.
Right from the opening moments, the front soundstage feels broad and expansive, displaying lots of warmth and fidelity in Lorne Balfe's understated score. Meanwhile, various activity in the background spreads across all three channels with spotless fluidity and into the top heights, establishing a highly-engaging half-dome environ that amazingly stays consistent from beginning to end. Rich, clarity detailing within the mid-range allows for the echo of gunshots and ricochet of bullets to be heard with stunning precision, and the crunch of metal during action sequences is distinctly heard while vocals are lucid and well-prioritized over the loudest segments. A powerful and occasionally authoritative low-end provides gunfire with a tight, potent snap, collusions with a room-shaking rumble, engines with a realistic growl and explosions with an aggressively resounding boom. There are a couple instances when bass even digs into the ultra-low depths, dropping well below 20Hz with some serious decibels, adding an incredible sense of presence to the action and music (bass chart).
Rear activity is also at a near constant, as various ambient noises during quieter, dialogue-driven moments litter the room and convincingly encircle the listening area. Whether it’s the bustling city traffic of Paris, the chatter of people in the Kashmir village and medical camp or voices echoing while characters argue underground, the surrounds are continuously employed with a variety of effects discretely moving from one channel to the next, creating an enveloping 360° environment that keeps viewers glued to their seats. Action scenes can be quite aggressive as an assortment of atmospherics smoothly journey into the ceiling channels, expanding the visuals to a grander scale. The engines of planes and the propeller blades of helicopters fill the empty space above, and the ringing of police sirens reverberate in every direction. Chase sequences, unsurprisingly, are the best moments with helicopters, cars, and motorcycles flawlessly panning overhead to generate an immersive hemispheric soundfield, making it one of the best high-resolution tracks of the year. (Audio Rating: 96/100)
Blu-ray Disc One (The Movie)
Blu-ray Disc Two
For the sixth installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise, writer and director Christopher McQuarrie essentially brings the series full circle. Tom Cruise reprises his role for Mission: Impossible – Fallout with a more somber, grave mood than its predecessors, as the events and choices of those movies noticeably take their toll on the character, making the best entry in the series yet. The Blu-ray arrives with an exceptional HD video presentation and a fantastically immersive, reference-quality Dolby Atmos soundtrack. With a healthy collection of supplements to boot, the overall package is highly recommended for action fans everywhere who have not yet upgraded to 4K.