Mission: Impossible III AKA M:i: III
R1 - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak and Shahir Daud (8th November 2006).
The Film

Given that he may very well be a strong contender for the biggest 'movie star' of all time, its unsurprising that the franchise built around his star persona continues to be one of the biggest draw cards for the summer blockbuster season. Yet, fears that the "Mission Impossible" series may have been delivering diminishing returns over time aren't just issues of taste, but careful considerations of a studio investing heavily in one of their biggest draw cards. But despite a major rethink of the series, and the delivery of the strongest "Mission Impossible" film yet, Tom Cruise's eponymous million dollar smile has become too overbearing to be palatable anymore. The Oprah sofa incident, the ongoing 'TomKat' saga, the holier than thou Scientology attitude has made Cruise a suddenly volatile commodity, particularly for female audiences who once flocked for his larger than life personality.
Somewhere along the lines though, we seem to have forgotten the fact that Cruise is actually quite an accomplished actor. It's cool in critical circles to dish dirt on Cruise as a wooden performer who rarely delivers anything other than variations of the same toothy grinned winner under duress act he's done for so many years, but Cruise's on-screen magnetism still rivals the likes of Cary Grant, Clark Gable and Errol Flynn. It's a rare gift for a performer to attract so much attention, but still be believable in every role. In the Joseph Campbell tradition of the 'hero', few actors anchor our hopes for good to vanquish evil so succinctly and simply.
Rumours abound of being difficult to work with are still mitigated by his willingness to work with filmmakers who exploit his star personality at every opportunity. Stanley Kubrick turned him into a cuckold with his real wife for the world to see in "Eyes Wide Shut" (1999), while P . T. Anderson and Cameron Crowe gleefully exposed his charm as both vapid and defensive in "Magnolia" (1999), "Jerry Maguire" (1996) and "Vanilla Sky" (2001).
Now working with J.J. Abrams, the prolific creator of " Felicity" (1998-2002), " Alias" (2001-2006) and "Lost" (2004-Present), Cruise turns Ethan Hunt into a domesticated house cat drawn back into the perilous world of the IMF (Impossible Mission Force), when his former student Lindsey (Keri Russell) is taken hostage by international arms dealer Owen Davian (Phillip Seymour Hoffman). In a turn not unlike "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" (2005), "True Lies" (1994) or "Notorious" (1946), Hunt's oblivious fiancé Julia (Michelle Monaghan) is taken hostage in retaliation, sending Hunt on an international mission for the ultimate Hitchcockian mcguffin 'the rabbits foot'.
And what a mission it is; helicopter chases, a heist at the Vatican, a stunning bridge rescue (dangerously close to the similar sequence in James Cameron's "True Lies"), and a relentless emphasis on impossible action make this the crown jewel in the "Mission Impossible" series.
It seems obvious, but both other instalments seemed to have missed the pleasure in watching a full team executing difficult missions only to be betrayed by the smallest human error. Abrams smartly creates a fully rounded team of operatives including new recruit Declan (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), svelte operator Zhen Lei (Maggie Q), and old hand computer expert Luther (Ving Rhames). Like the huge ensemble of " Lost", each character has a genuine role in the 'mission' rather than playing second fiddle to Hunt.
It's probably a little cynical to call the softening of Hunt's character into a domestic house husband a clever marketing ploy, given his willingness in previous films to sleep with and seduce any of his female targets. But Abrams and screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci flesh out the needed dynamics of Hunt's home life to make it plausible.
Whatever your thoughts on Cruise or his public persona, this is a far more thrilling ride than most Hollywood blockbusters have on offer these days. Without any of the political subtext, or deep desire for gravitas, Abrams may have turned in one of the finest action thrillers since the high water mark of the "Die Hard" (1988) and "Speed" (1994) days.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.40:1 this widescreen anamorphic transfer could use some improvement which is a disappointment considering this is a recent film that should have been given a reference quality transfer, for the most part I found the image soft and lacking in overall detail, while colors are vivid I found that the transfer was let down by the fact that it was crammed onto the first disc with a bunch of extras that ate into its bit rate, I also saw several instances of moire effect especially across the steps of the interior Vatican sequence. I truly think that this image could have been vastly improved in terms of sharpness and detail had it been given the bulk of the space on the disc.

Audio

Two audio tracks are included an English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround as well as a French Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its English track and found it to be aggressive and unrelenting. Dialogue was clear and distortion free but the crown jewel of this track is the excellent balance of directional effects and music, with enough gun shots, explosions and crazy stunts to make the neighbors go mad, this track will put your speakers and sub woofer through the best exercise it's even gone through. It totally immerses the viewer, it's exciting and energetic which is what the movie is all about. This soundtrack is a top notch effort from Paramount.
Optional subtitles are included in both English and Spanish.

Extras

DISC ONE:

First up we have a feature-length audio commentary by actor Tom Cruise and director J.J. Abrams. In this largely screen-specific track the two comment on the development of the story ans action sequences and starting the film in an unexpected way. Abrams talks about setting up scenes and how he approached each one, with Cruise complimenting him numerous times on a job well done but then does include some insight into the character and storytelling elements that excited him. The two constantly talk about their favorite shots and scenes and also go into detail as to why and shed light on how they were achieved. Comments on the action scenes and casting are also popular topics to cover as is the score among other things. This track provides an incredible amount of information and the two participants remain entertaining throughout. This is an excellently produced track that is a recommended listen for fans of the film.

"The Making of the Mission" is a featurette that runs for 28 minutes 41 seconds and covers in detail almost every aspect of the making of this film. It follows the filmmakers through the shooting of the film at various locations and also looks at other aspects of the production such as the cast, the costumes and action and stunts as well as the special effects from ILM. This clip includes interviews the cast and key crew as they share their experiences on working on this film and let us in one some of the production secrets. Overall this was a very informative and surprisingly detailed (especially considering the length of this clip) piece that is worth your time.

Following that are 5 deleted scenes which can be viewed individually or with a 'play all' function, the scenes included are:

- "Ethan Fight At Top Of Stairs" runs for 50 seconds, Ethan encounters an armed man in the Berlin factory while looking for Lindsey.
- "Zhen Fight In Computer Room" runs for 40 seconds, in the same factory, Zhen encounters some trouble while she's after the laptops.
- "Musgrave Cemetery Conversation" runs for 1 minute 32 seconds, Musgrave tells Ethan of his relationship with Lindsey.
- "Lindsey Graduates" runs for 39 seconds, Ethan delivers news of her new posting as an IMF field agent.
- "Vatican Entry Extended" runs for 1 minute 46 seconds, additional dialogue with the guard at the gate as Zhen tries to get in.

Next up is "Excellence in Film" montage which runs for 9 minutes 15 seconds, this is a clip compiled for the 2005 British Academy of Film and Television for a presentation of an award to Cruise. This montage features memorable scenes from the many Cruise movies from the past.

Rounding out the extras on this disc are a series of bonus trailers that include:

-"Transformers" which runs for 1 minute 49 seconds.
-"World Trade Center" which runs for 2 minutes 32 seconds.
-"Tom Cruise on DVD" which runs for 1 minute 47 seconds.

These previews are start-up trailers and can be skipped.

DISC TWO:

The first featurette on this disc is entitled "Inside The IMF" which runs for 21 minutes 14 seconds and takes a closer look at the casting of the film as the filmmakers talk about working with the extraordinary cast. As well as finding people that could stand out against Cruise, the clip also looks at what each cast member brought to the film as well as the direction this third installment was heading in.

"Mission Action: Inside The Action Unit" is a featurette that runs for 25 minutes 38 seconds and focuses on the action sequences and stunts performed for this film. We get an inside look at the unique challenges and danger that this film posed for the stunt team and the second unit that was in charge of shooting some of the high energy sequences. It looks at the coordination and degree of care taken to pull off an amazing stunt safely as well as some action moments that were thought up on the day such as Cruise slamming into the car on the bridge scene as a missle blows up the IMF vehicle.

"Visualizing The Action" is a featurette that runs for 10 minutes 38 seconds and takes a look at the planning tool called 'previsualization' this allows the filmmakers to plan out complicated action sequences so that all departments can break it down and work out how they are going to achieve it, with live action shots, miniatures, visual effects, etc. All these are broken down and saves the filmmakers time and money when it comes to shooting these scenes, which was especially important for a first time feature-filmmaker such as Abrams who wanted to be as prepared as possible.

Next up is "Mission: Metamorphosis" a featurette which runs for 8 minutes 9 seconds and takes a look at one of the iconic things about the "Mission Impossible" series, the masks. In this film Abrams wanted to see how the masks were made which provided a nice reveal to the audience. This clip looks at the design, development, building and use of the mask making machine seen in the film and how the effects shop and ILM teamed up to sell the shot in the film.

Following that is "Scoring The Mission" a featurette which runs for 5 minutes and takes a look at the music for the film, in using the classic theme plus developing other cues for the key moments in the film.

Next up is "Moviefone Unscripted: Tom Cruise and J.J. Abrams" which runs for 8 minutes 3 seconds as the two interview each other with a series of questions sent in by fans. This is moderately interesting but is ultimately a fluff bit of promotional material.

"Launching The Mission" are a series of promotional tour videos that take a look at the major premieres of the film help in five cities around the world. You can view these individually or with a 'play all' option. They include:

- "New York" which runs for 5 minutes 22 seconds and see Cruise travelling by land, sea and air to get to the four premieres for the film around New York.
- "Rome" which runs for 1 minute 51 seconds, sees the cast and director as they walk the red carpet and talk to press about the film.
- "Paris" which runs for 1 minute 45 seconds, sees the cast and director introduce the film to the audience plus more red carpet madness.
- "London" which runs for 1 minute 22 seconds sees the cast and director sign autographs as the fans pack the space around the Odeon Theater.
- "Japan" runs for 3 minutes 43 seconds, sees Cruise and Abrams play a giant drum as they meet the crazy fans wanting autographs and photos, finally Cruise introduces the film.

Also included on this disc are a series of theatrical trailers, it's so rare these days to see the film's original trailers included as extras anymore, plus these previews are among the best, so it's nice to see these included. You can view them individually or with a 'play all' option. They include:

- "Teaser Trailer" which runs for 1 minute 2 seconds.
- "Japan Trailer" which runs for 55 seconds.
- "Theatrical Trailer 1" which runs for 1 minute 37 seconds.
- "Theatrical Trailer 2" which runs for 1 minute 48 seconds.

A collection of 6 TV spots are included and can be viewed individually or with a 'play all' option, the spots included are:

- "Go Live" which runs for 30 seconds.
- "It's Over" which runs for 30 seconds.
- "Execute" which runs for 30 seconds.
- "Madness" which runs for 30 seconds.
- "New Escape" which runs for 30 seconds.
- "Conspiracy Regular" which runs for 30 seconds.

An extensive photo gallery is included that features 98 still images taken of the cast and crew during the production of the film as well as character shots used for publicity purposes.

Rounding out the extras is "Generation Cruise" another montage running 3 minutes 37 seconds, this time it's from the 2005 MTV Movie Awards as they presented Cruise with the first ever Generation Award.

Paramount has released this film with a series of well produced and interesting extras that will inform and entertain fans of this film. But It's also a shame that the transfer had to suffer from the fact that there were so many extras.

Packaging

This 2-disc set is packaged in an amaray case housed in a cardboard slip-case.

Overall

The Film: A Video: B- Audio: A+ Extras: A+ Overall: A

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.