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Brian De Palma
Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Béart, Henry Czerny, Jean Reno, Ving Rhames, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vanessa Redgrave, Dale Dye
Writing Credits:
Bruce Geller (television series), David Koepp (story and screenplay), Steven Zaillian (story), Robert Towne

Expect the Impossible.

In Mission: Impossible, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is a member of the Impossible Missions Force who must prevent a secret list of covert agents from getting into the hands of an international arms dealer.

Box Office:
$75 million.
Domestic Gross
$180.965 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
French Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 110 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 4/11/2006

• “Mission: Remarkable – 40 Years of Creating the Impossible” Featurette
• “Mission: Explosive Exploits” Featurette
• “Mission: International Spy Museum” Featurette
• “Mission: Spies Among Us” Featurette
• “Mission: Catching the Train” Featurette
• Agent Dossiers
• “Excellence in Film: Cruise” Featurette
• “Acceptance Speech for BAFTA/LA’s Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film”
• “Generation: Cruise” Featurette
• “Acceptance Speech for MTV’s Generation Award”
• Trailers
• TV Spots
• Photo Gallery


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Mission: Impossible - Special Collector's Edition (1996)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 29, 2006)

For a prosperous franchise, the Mission: Impossible movies suffer from an awfully low profile. We’ll hear more about them in the time that leads up to the May 2006 release of Mission: Impossible 3, though that seems like a sequel few demanded to see. That strikes me as odd given the profits earned by the first two. 1996’s Mission: Impossible snared $180 million, while 2000’s Mission: Impossible 2 did even better with $215 million. Both flicks landed in third place on their respective years’ box office charts.

So why doesn’t the franchise seem to generate more heat? I don’t know, though I suspect it relates to the quality of the film. Both of the first two flicks are perfectly respectable and entertaining, but neither quite catches fire.

Impossible introduces us to “Impossible Mission Force” (IMF) agent Jim Phelps (Jon Voight) and his team. They go to Prague to stop the theft of a computer file that will allow baddies to connect agents to their real names. Unfortunately, the operation goes awry and most of the personnel – including Phelps – dies. Only Phelps’ right-hand man Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and Phelps’ wife Claire (Emmanuelle Beart) remain alive.

Matters get worse for Hunt. He meets with another IMF agent named Kittrick (Henry Czerny) who informs him that a second team tracked Phelps’ squad. They did so due to suspicions that a mole worked from the inside. Since Kittrick doesn’t know of Claire’s survival, he sees Hunt as the sole person to make it out of the botched operation, and that seems to brand him as the mole.

Hunt spends the rest of the movie in an attempt to work both sides of the fence. He connects with the underworld to exploit their knowledge of the mole while he attempts to keep away from IMF forces that seek to capture him. Plenty of twists and turns come along the way.

Though not so many twists and turns that we become confused and/or lose interest. Before I snagged this DVD, I’d not seen Impossible since its theatrical run almost 10 years ago. I didn’t recall a whole lot about it, though I seem to remember that the plot was a bit convoluted.

It remains moderately murky, but not atrociously so. If you boil it down to its basics, it’s a simple Hitchcockian tale of a guy unjustly accused of being a baddie who tries to clear his name. It echoes other flicks like The Third Man as well, and it occasionally threatens to become buried under its own machinations. However, if you focus on the greater picture and worry less about the details, it’ll make perfect sense.

For the most part, the plot feels a bit superfluous. It does little more than act as a setting for the various action scenes, and those usually don’t disappoint. The movie’s signature sequence that comes when Hunt dangles above a protected room at the CIA remains quite tense and dramatic, and the climactic battle on the Bullet Train also roars to life well.

How about the rest of the flick? Well, it doesn’t soar, but it keeps us interested enough to sustain us between set pieces. The presence of a strong cast helps, though not all of them prosper. Cruise seems only sporadically convincing as super agent Hunt. Much of the time it feels like he tries too hard to be a badass. Cruise can’t pull off that attitude, and he comes across like a little boy in a man’s suit. He never falters enough to harm the movie, but he doesn’t add to it either.

On the other hand, Vanessa Redgrave provides a wonderful – though too brief – spin as one of the baddies. She chomps the scenery with relish as she turns in her work. On the surface, Redgrave seems like an odd person to show up in an action flick, but she displays no signs of discomfort or the impression she feels she’s slumming. She makes her brief sequences a consistent delight.

In the end, there isn’t a whole lot to say about Mission: Impossible. Brian De Palma directs it with just enough flair and gusto to make it work, but he never quite brings out any true personality. The movie entertains and remains enjoyable; it simply lacks enough distinctiveness to become memorable.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus C

Mission: Impossible appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though consistently good, the transfer never quite became great.

Sharpness seemed mostly positive. Wide shots occasionally looked a little soft, but those instances weren’t often problematic. The majority of the flick offered crisp, concise material. Jagged edges and shimmering created no problems, and only a little edge enhancement was visible. As for source flaws, I noticed periodic specks through the movie. Maybe two dozen of these small marks cropped up; that was enough to cause sporadic distractions but not any enormous issues.

Colors were fairly good. Colored lighting seemed a bit thick, but otherwise the hues tended to appear reasonably vivid and dynamic. Blacks appeared deep and full, while shadows were usually positive. A few low-light sequences came across as somewhat dense, but most of them were acceptably visible. At times this transfer flirted with a “B+”, but the mix of small concerns knocked it down to a “B”.

With terrific mixes like Twister, Independence Day and The Rock, the summer of 1996 offered an awful lot of fine soundtracks. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio of Mission: Impossible wasn’t quite as good, but it still worked very well.

The soundfield was nicely open and broad. Music showed excellent stereo imaging, while effects were well-placed and neatly integrated. Elements moved smoothly and connected in a concise manner. Some directional dialogue opened things up a little more. The surrounds contributed to the sense of atmosphere, though they didn’t get as great a workout as I expected. Nonetheless, they kicked into high gear for the action sequences; the bullet train scene offered excellent material.

Audio quality was always terrific. Music fared especially well, as the score sounded bright and dynamic. Effects were concise and clean, with solid low-end response. Speech came across as accurate and crisp, with no edginess or other problems. This was a consistently satisfying soundtrack.

How did the presentation of this DVD compare with the original release? I thought both offered identical soundtracks, but the new transfer improved significantly over the old non-anamorphic image. The 2006 DVD looked superior in virtually every way.

The original DVD included only a trailer. For this new Special Collector’s Edition, we get a bunch of extras. These start with an 11-minute and 25-second featurette entitled Mission: Remarkable – 40 Years of Creating the Impossible. It mixes movie and show clips with comments from producer Paula Wagner, actor/producer Tom Cruise, screenwriter Robert Towne, directors Brian De Palma, John Woo and JJ Abrams, and actor Jon Voight.

They discuss the influence of the TV series on the first movie and connections between the two. We also hear about the film’s plot and story complications, finding its director and his impact, and locations. From there we get notes about the sequel’s story and director, and then we find some tidbits about the third film in the series as well as hints that the franchise could continue.

Chalk up “Remarkable” as a disappointment. I hoped it’d be a full examination of all the different Impossible incarnations, but instead it simply offers minor information about the various movies. We learn very little in this glossy featurette.

Next we find Mission: Explosive Exploits. This five-minute and eight-second featurette includes notes from Wagner, Cruise, De Palma, stunt coordinator Greg Powell and actor Henry Czerny. The show looks at two stunts in the first film. We get decent reflections on the challenges caused by these scenes, but don’t expect a lot of depth. Instead, we mostly find praise for Cruise.

In the six and a half minute Mission: International Spy Museum, we hear from International Spy Museum executive director Peter Earnest. He takes us on a tour of the establishment and tells us about various spy gadgets and techniques. This proves moderately engaging and likely will entice some folks to visit the museum in Washington DC.

Mission: Spies Among Us goes for eight minutes, 40 seconds. We discover statements from Earnest, CIA senior operations officer Chase Brandon, special intelligence operations expert Dr. Derrin Smith, Rand Corporation senior analyst Gregory Trevorton, US Army Special Forces MSG (Retired) Carl Donelson, and CIA former senior disguise specialist Robert Barron. They discuss the reality of life as a spy. The program presents an interesting little primer about the various issues and concerns.

During Mission: Catching the Train, we hear from De Palma, Cruise, visual effects supervisor John Knoll and associate visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri. The two-minute and 38-second program looks at the creation of the film’s climax. A few nice insights and behind the scenes bits appear, but the featurette’s brevity means it doesn’t shed a lot of light on the topic.

Seven Agent Dossiers appear. These offer biographies for seven of the movie’s characters. They add a fun note to the disc.

The next two pieces connect to the same event. Excellence in Film: Cruise is a nine-minute and 13-second compilation of clips from Cruise movie’s created to precede his receipt of an award. After that we see the Acceptance Speech for BAFTA/LA’s Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film. This three-minute and 19-second clip shows Cruise as he chats about who he owes for his successful career. Neither piece is especially interesting.

For more praise of the actor, we get a three-minute and 32-second montage called Generation: Cruise. It serves the same purpose as the “Excellence in Film” collection and presents shots from the actor’s flicks. We follow this with Cruise’s three-minute and 41-second Acceptance Speech for MTV’s Generation Award. Cruise’s actual comments last only about 90 seconds, as Katie Holmes’ intro fills the rest of the time. Her presence adds a little tabloid tease, but neither segment offers much worthwhile material.

Three trailers appear. We get both the teaser and theatrical trailers for the first movie along with a teaser for M:I:III. The latter also shows up at the start of the DVD. In addition to nine TV Spots, we find a lackluster 40 image Photo Gallery comprised mostly of publicity shots.

Although I enjoyed Mission: Impossible, I can’t say it made much of a mark on me. The movie packed enough action and drama to keep me interested, but it lacked a certain spark that would have made it more memorable. The DVD presents good picture and audio along with mediocre extras.

I like Mission: Impossible enough to give it a subdued recommendation. Fans who own the old disc will probably want to upgrade as well. The audio remains the same on both releases, and the new DVD’s supplements aren’t good enough to merit the repurchase, but the 2006 disc’s picture quality marks a significant enough improvement to make the set worthwhile.

To rate this film, visit the original review of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE