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Paramount Home Video presents
Mission: Impossible II (M:I-2) HD-DVD (2000)

"Well, this is not Mission: Difficult, Mr. Hunt. it's Mission: Impossible. Difficult should be a walk in the park for you."
- Swanbeck (Anthony Hopkins)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: May 17, 2007

Stars: Tom Cruise, Thandie Newton, and Dougray Scott
Other Stars: Ving Rhames, Brendan Gleeson, William R. Mapother, Anthony Hopkins, John Polson, and Rade Serbedzija
Director: John Woo

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violent action and some sensuality
Run Time: 02h:03m:25s
Release Date: May 22, 2007
UPC: 097361199146
Genre: action


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BB+A B

DVD Review

The DVD Review and Extras Review are by Kevin Clemons.

Even before its May 24th debut in 2000, Mission: Impossible II was already being crowned a summer blockbuster—and it had good reason to be. With superstar Tom Cruise returning to the role of Ethan Hunt from the 1996 M:I film, and the amazing John Woo at the helm, M:I 2 had a license to print money. For those who dubbed the original film "Mission Unfollowable," this is the movie for you. In fact, you can add M:I 2 to the short list of movie sequels that actually improve upon the first outing.

At the start of the film Sean Ambrose (Scott) steals both the virus Chimera and its antidote from Biocyte Pharmaceuticals in Sydney, Australia. Like any movie villain Ambrose plans to unleash it into the world as he gets rich when the antidote is needed. To stop Ambrose, IMF director Swanbeck (Hopkins) calls on Ethan Hunt (Cruise) to recruit Ambrose's old flame, Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Newton). As if it were a Bond film, Hunt falls for Nyah, and things get complicated when saving her is as important as saving the world. Throw in Luther Stickel (Rhames) from the first film, and assorted bad guys and good guys and you have the makings of another impossible mission.

It has been reported that screenwriter Robert Towne wrote the script around several key action scenes that director John Woo had devised. After seeing the film, that story is easy to believe. It seems as though it is divided into two halves: the first, a tightly made homage to Hitchcock's Notorius; the second, an all out John Woo action extravaganza.

What is most impressive is Woo's handling of the action scenes. Woo incorporates his trademark visual style to many of these scenes, including pigeons, billowing clothing, slow motion action shoot-outs, and a seemingly endless supply of bullets. While none of the action sequences match the brilliance of the apartment shoot-out in Face Off, they are still expertly done. Cinematographer Jeffrey Kimball's work is top notch and his scenes at the start of the film are breathtaking.

A Mission: Impossible film wouldn't be the same without Cruise, whose work here caps off an incredible 12 month span for the actor. From his amazing supporting role in Magnolia, to his top billing in Kubrick's final masterpiece Eyes Wide Shut, Cruise has chosen three very diverse roles. But unlike most actors he is able to carry of each of them with aplomb. I will be the first to admit that I think Cruise makes a great action hero, and he is more believable than ever in this film. Doing his own stunts, including the rock climbing that begins the movie, he plays Hunt with a certain swagger that is missing from most action stars. Newton, who is a newcomer to most, is terrific as Nyah, and her scenes with Cruise work very well. There is a certain amount of heat generated between the two that was sadly missing from the love story in the first film with Emmanuelle Beart. Actor Dougray Scott is a bit too much as the villain, but he plays the part so over-the-top that it works. Anthony Hopkins and Ving Rhames turn in good performances in what amounts to essentially cameo roles.

The film has its problems—essentially it becomes a tough wait for the action scenes on the second or third viewing. I would sit through a movie about a guy grocery shopping if it were directed by John Woo because I know that it would have style to spare, and that is essentially what M:I 2 has. It is a movie so amazing to watch unfold that all you can do is sit back and enjoy the ride. In other words, this is a perfect summer blockbuster.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.40:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The same shimmering issues that affect the original film show up in the first sequel, notably in the shot of the buildings of Sydney in the opening sequence. The torchlight procession looks gorgeous, though, and there's much more detail visible in closeups than in the original film. The virus animations in particular look spectacular. The skintones seem much more normal in this go-round. Other than the shimmering, which isn't consistent, and some occasional edge enhancement, this looks very nice indeed.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
+
English, French, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: As is the case with the first film, the audio here has plenty of impact. There are copious amounts of LFE in explosions and in the theme music. Dialogue is nicely crisp and directionality is often pronounced during the action sequences.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 17 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director John Woo
Packaging: Elite
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Alternate title sequence
  2. I Disappear music video by Metallica
Extras Review: Paramount has loaded this disc with the amount of extras worthy of such a big blockbuster. Alas, none of them are presented in HD. The best extra feature is a commentary track by the director. Woo never lets the track get too focused on the technical aspects of filmmaking, and spends some time talking about his views on the story. Although his accent gets a bit thick at times it is never really a problem. This is the first track I have heard by Woo and after watching it I am tempted to pop in my laserdiscs of Hard Boiled and The Killer and hear his thoughts on those films.

A fourteen minute making-of entitled Behind the Mission shows some behind-the-scenes footage, as well as interviews with the cast and crew. At only five-and-a-half minutes, Mission Incredible is a bit more interesting as it deals with the stunts done in the film. Eleven short featurettes break down some of the action scenes of the film in a section called Impossible Shots that is an interesting way to see how some of your favorite scenes were filmed. From the Biocyte shoot-out to the fight that closes the film, each of these 11 is worth a look.

On the lighter side of things an alternate title sequence is shown and I can go either way when it comes to which one was used. Unfortunately, the short that was shown on the MTV Movie Awards called Mission Improbable is missing from the HD version of this disc.

If I have a gripe about this disc, it is the lack of two supplements that would have made it great. The first is the surprising lack of both a teaser and theatrical trailer for the film. Paramount is starting to create a trend with their lack of trailers and it is starting to get bothersome. The second is that there is a Metallica video for their song I Disappear, but there is no video for the infinitely better Take a Look Around by Limp Bizkit. Take away the words of Bizkit's song and it makes a great theme for the movie; I for one would rather hear Wes Borland's guitar in the action scenes than Zimmer's overpowering score. Although, I am concerned that by getting this disc free for review, that my having the Metallica video in my collection without paying for it might send Lars Ulrich to my door threatening to kill me!



Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

The sequel takes it up a notch or two with the help of Woo's direction. You really can't go wrong with this disc when you take into account the extras and the quality of the transfers. Recommended.

 


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