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Reviews » 4K UHD Reviews » Mission: Impossible II (4K UHD)
Mission: Impossible II (4K UHD)
Paramount // PG-13 // June 26, 2018 // Region 0
List Price: $31.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by William Harrison | posted July 25, 2018 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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THE FILM:

I did not know it at the time, but Mission: Impossible II was my first exposure to Asian action cinema, and, as an eighth-grade boy, I thought John Woo's over-the-top actioner was about the coolest thing I had ever seen. I cannot be certain, but I may not have seen the 1996 original before heading to the theater to see M:I-2, but the film's opening scenes quickly got me up to speed. Eighteen years later, I realize Woo's film is largely style over substance, and not among the strongest films in the franchise. But I'll confess, I still kind of love it. From its graceful car-chase ballet to its meat-and-potatoes plot to its doves-and-guns finale, M:I-2 is pure escapist entertainment. Cruise had settled nicely into his role as Ethan Hunt, and Thandie Newton is a gorgeous sidekick. The Mission: Impossible franchise has moved toward more realistic narratives, despite the inclusion of over-the-stop set pieces, but M:I-2 remains a special entry, even if most consider it the black sheep of the franchise.

The damn masks have always been a funny sticking point in this franchise, and the filmmakers tend to poke fun at their ridiculous effectiveness by using them in more outrageous ways at every turn. M:I-2 ups the ante from the original, and sees IMF agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott), disguised as Hunt, kill a bio-chemical expert who recently warned Hunt that his company had been forced to develop a biological weapon and corresponding cure. Ambrose then sets the passenger jet on a crash course before jumping to safety. The real Hunt learns of the attack and is tasked with recovering the virus and cure, and recruits Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Newton), a thief in Seville, Spain, who is Ambrose's ex-girlfriend. From there, Ethan woos Nyah and convinces her to rekindle her relationship with Ambrose for the betterment of civilization. Much gunplay, slow-motion photography and stylized editing follow.

Moving from Brian de Palma as director to Woo was an interesting decision, and the Hong Kong legend, known for Hard Boiled, Red Cliff, and Face/Off, among others, brings his heavily stylized vision to M:I-2. Now that I think about it, Woo was the obvious choice for face-swapping action; but is perhaps less suited for compelling drama. The idea of selling a super flu and its super-expensive cure to the highest bidder is sobering, but it's not quite enough of a backbone to keep this film from wobbling at points. That's not to say Woo does not provide exactly what audiences crave. The action in M:I-2 is some of the most fluid and impressive in the series. It may not involve skyscraper scaling or clinging to the outside of a flying cargo plane, but these motorcycle and car chases are hyper-real and hypnotic.

Other than the style vs. substance debate, it is hard to hate M:I-2; the acting is good, the locations are gorgeous and the film is certainly entertaining. Cruise and Newton are great, Ving Rhames further cements his cool as computer expert Luther Stickell, and Anthony Hopkins shows up out of nowhere to drop some sexist one-liners. Even if you consider this the "worst" film in the franchise, it's still a hell of an action movie. And sweet Jesus, this movie was a marketing tour-de-force. I remember it being used to promote everything from sunglasses to fast food to Audi vehicles. This is certainly an of-the-moment product of the year 2000, but it is fun to relive the excess in your home theater.

THE 4K ULTRA HD:

PICTURE:

Paramount is steadily correcting its shoddy treatment of catalogue titles on Blu-ray with excellent, remastered 4K releases. This film receives a 2.39:1/2160p/HEVC/H.265 transfer with Dolby Vision and HDR10. Culled from a native 4K source, this 4K image blows away the image on the included and recycled Blu-ray edition. Yes, there are a couple of softer shots due to the 35mm source and the optical effects blending used, but this is an overall impressive upgrade. There is a pleasingly filmic and consistent grain structure that shows no signs of scrubbing by the once-king of digital manipulation, Paramount. Fine-object detail is extremely impressive; just check out the sweat on Cruise's face as he rock climbs in the desert. Wide shots are clear and deep, and texture is abundant in landscapes, practical sets and costumes. The HDR pass offers bold, beautiful colors to further complement Woo's vibrant filmmaking style, and, while the picture is sunny and bright, highlights never bloom. Blacks are inky but offer strong shadow detail, and I noticed no issues with edge enhancement or motion blur.

SOUND:

I saw some bitching online about the lack of Atmos mixes on these new 4K releases, but the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is plenty powerful. Recall the Blu-ray edition only has a lossy Dolby Digital track. Robust and immersive, this mix offers abundant surround-sound action and plenty of LFE support. Dialogue is crystal clear and layered appropriately amid the effects and score. Clarity and range are excellent, and quiet scenes are no less audible than big action sequences, during which the mix never becomes too crowded. Bass levels are impressive, and sound pans are frequent and effective. A host of lossy dubs and subtitle options are included.

PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:

This two-disc set includes the 4K Ultra HD disc, a Blu-ray and both iTunes and UltraViolet HD digital copies. The discs are packed in a black 4K case that is wrapped in a glossy slipcover that matches the recent releases of the other films. All of the extras are recycled and are located on the Blu-ray. You get an Audio Commentary by Director John Woo; Behind the Mission (14:28/SD), an EPK featurette; Mission Incredible (5:12/SD), about the stunts; Impossible Shots (34:17/SD), which breaks down several action sequences; Metallica's "I Disappear" Music Video (4:33/SD); an Alternate Title Sequence (0:37/SD); Excellence in Film (9:15/SD) and Generation: Cruise (3:36/SD).

FINAL THOUGHTS:

If this is the "worst" film in a franchise, you know that franchise is going alright. Yeah, Mission: Impossible II offers the best and worst of Director John Woo's stylized filmmaking style, but it is a hell of an action ride. This new 4K release offers excellent remastered picture and sound, which is reason alone to upgrade. Highly Recommended.

William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.

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