Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible is a terrifically satisfying murder mystery disguised as an action spy thriller with an engaging neo-noir flair and creatively stylized action sequences. Celebrating its 25th Anniversary, the film infiltrates home theaters once again with an excellent HD audio and video presentation but the same set of bonus features as before. Nevertheless, the overall package is Recommended.
At a time when Hollywood was churning out adaptations of classic TV shows like candy — making up a big chunk of the 1990s cinema slate — only a few were as successfully memorable as Mission: Impossible. To this day, I still have great memories of seeing the movie on the big screen when it premiered because I was a fan of the original series, having grown up watching afternoon reruns on television. Added to that, Tom Cruise was the $100-million golden boy during this period, meaning anything he touched was pretty much a guaranteed box-office hit. That's not to say his movies were automatically good, but there was, at least, a greater chance of quality entertainment. And the plot of Cruise's IMF agent Ethan Hunt disavowed — a popular theme of the franchise — and solving the murders of his fellow agents doesn't disappoint in this regard. Cruise sells the character's disillusioned anger, distress, and failures convincingly while at the same time, seeming competent at solving a mystery that framed him as the mastermind.
And to this central premise, Brian De Palma lends his unique eye, one informed and heavily influenced by the classics and legendary filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock. This is, by far, my favorite aspect of the entire film series where every director brings their particular style to each installment, and De Palma turns what should have been a simple, straightforward entry reminiscent of the original program into a film that could have worked just as well as a standalone spy thriller. The legendary filmmaker of cult favorites Dressed to Kill, Blow Out and Scarface breathes a neo-noir elegance to a murder mystery while injecting his artistic panache to the intentionally over-the-top action sequences, two of which are now basically staples of cinema spectacle. The most famous and unforgettable, of course, is the vault scene in CIA headquarters, and the camerawork is not only noteworthy but the wonderful balance of sound and silence is a thing of beauty. Twenty-five years later, De Palma's Mission: Impossible remains just entertainingly engrossing and worth admiring as ever.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Paramount Home Entertainment celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible as a standalone Blu-ray with a flyer for a Digital Copy, which can be redeemed via ParamountMovies.com, giving owners access to a 1080p HD copy with Dolby Digital Audio. The dual-layered, Region-Free BD50 disc is housed inside the standard blue, eco-vortex cutout case with an IMF sticker and a glossy slipcover. At startup, viewers are taken to an animated screen with the usual selection along the bottom and music playing in the background.
Paramount celebrates twenty-five years of impossible missions with an excellent and satisfying 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode, which was struck from the same remaster used for the 2018 Ultra HD release and appears to be the same Blu-ray disc from that edition. In either case, this HD video looks fantastic and highly detailed, especially during the various close-ups that expose the smallest pore, wrinkle and negligible blemish. Fine lines and objects are generally distinct and plainly visible from a distance, but several sequences are blurrier and softer than others, which has always been a well-known feature of the movie and likely the result of the original, stylized cinematography.
Nevertheless, primaries are fuller and deeper with reds looking particularly more animated while blues are more energetic. While remaining faithful to Stephen H. Burum's stylized photography and De Palma's creative noir-like intentions, the overall palette shows more variation and is better saturated while skin tones have a rosier, lifelike complexion. Contrast balance is nicely improved as well, displaying brighter, more dramatic whites from the previous Blu-ray and is most apparent during the secure computer room at Langley. In the same scene, we can also note richer, inkier blacks with more gradational variation between the shades and better visibility in the darkest shadows, providing the 2.35:1 image with appreciable cinematic quality.
Awash with a very fine layer of natural grain, this HD presentation has an attractive film-like quality that fans will love, making for a great upgrade from the last standalone Blu-ray release. (Video Rating: 84/100)
Along with the video, Paramount has also ported over the same Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack from the UHD edition, which remains a satisfying upgrade from the legacy Dolby Digital options of the 2007 Blu-ray. It isn't a massive night-and-day improvement, as the design still remains a front-heavy presentation, but the rears are occasionally put to good use thanks to a few, sporadic effects during certain sequences. It may not be anything particularly noteworthy or enveloping — at least, not in any convincing manner. In fact, the surrounds don't receive much of a workout and are fairly silent for a majority of the runtime. Much of the attention and action is spread across the fronts, layered with a variety of noises and background activity discretely panning between the three channels, making for an engaging presentation. The lossless mix delivers a broad soundstage with plenty of warmth and outstanding detailing within the mid-range, exhibiting excellent separation during the loudest moments and better fidelity in Danny Elfman's score. Vocals are precise and very well-prioritized throughout. The low-end remains about the same, but it still delivers a weighty, commanding presence to the action and music. (Audio Rating: 82/100)
All the same supplements are ported over from previous home video releases.
Having grown up watching afternoon reruns of the original series on television, I was pretty excited about seeing a big-screen adaptation of Mission: Impossible, especially since it was directed by Brian De Palma and featuring music by Danny Elfman. Starring Tom Cruise, the film is really more a murder mystery plot disguised as an action spy thriller with an engaging neo-noir flair and creatively stylized action sequences. Infiltrating home theaters once again, the film celebrates its 25th Anniversary with an excellent HD audio and video presentation that delivers a marked improvement over its 2007 Blu-ray predecessor. Porting over the same set of bonus features as before, the overall package is recommended for fans who skipped the 2018 Ultra HD edition.