Mission: Impossible II (2000)

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Released 6-Jul-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Behind The Mission
Featurette-Mission Incredible
Featurette-Impossible Shots
Audio Commentary-John Woo (Director)
Music Video-I Disappear-Metallica
Featurette-Alternate Title Sequence
Featurette-Mission Improbable
DVD-ROM Extras-Agent Dossiers, Mission Locations, Legend Of Chimera
DVD-ROM Extras-M:I-2 Tech Tools, M:I-2 DVD Online
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 118:29
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (67:19) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By John Woo
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Tom Cruise
Dougray Scott
Thandie Newton
Richard Roxburgh
John Polson
Brendan Gleeson
Rade Sherbedgia
Ving Rhames
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music Hans Zimmer


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, cars, phones, laptops, ...
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Mission: Impossible was a popular TV series. I remember watching it avidly, week by week, wondering who they would be trying to fool this week, and how they'd pull it off. The core of the show, apart from the opening ("Good morning Mr Phelps"...), was the way they worked. They didn't use force to get what they wanted; they used guile. Essentially, each mission was an elaborate confidence trick. The attraction of the show was seeing how they would set up the con, how they'd execute it, and how they'd handle something going wrong. They rang the variations on this for quite some time - I don't know how many episodes there were, but there were quite a few, not to mention the abortive revival of the show  few years back (they filmed the revival in Australia - remember?).

    The first Mission: Impossible movie was not an orthodox mission, but it was interesting, nonetheless. It had some of the proper elements, particularly in the opening sequence, in the set-up in the embassy, and in the penetration of Langley. The final confrontation on the train, and the battle outside it, didn't fit, but they weren't too bad.

    I went to see Mission: Impossible 2 at the cinema when it was released, and I distinctly remember leaving the cinema disappointed. Yes, it was a passable action thriller, but it had the wrong title. This was not Mission: Impossible. There was no elaborate confidence trick. Oh, they had the disguises (pulling off the Mission: Impossible faces has to be one of the most over-worked clichés by now), they even had "your mission, should you choose to accept it...", but they went about things the wrong way. Peter Graves would never have dived down an air shaft to avoid guards - he'd have convinced the guards to admit him, even help him carry out the thing he'd come to steal. I'm not sure I ever saw an IMF team member use a gun, either (excluding tranquilliser darts).

    I'm pleased I chose to review this movie, though, because I can view it differently now. It is not as bad as I thought back then. It still doesn't fit the mould of the TV series, but it does fit with the first movie. In the extras we learn that the producers have a vision - they want every Mission: Impossible movie (yep, they plan on making more of them) to be directed by a different director, and they want each director to make the movie in his (or her?) own style. This one was directed by John Woo, and has his style all over it - even to the extent of having the pigeons (and a trademark white dove).

    John Woo explains how he saw this movie as a conflict between two men: Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott). Part of the conflict is over a woman (Thandie Newman - easy to see why she might be a source of conflict). Sure, there are lots of other people involved, and a plot involving a lethal virus, but at its heart it comes down to a conflict between just two men. 

    This movie is a thrill-ride from start to finish. It was a famous director who is reputed to have said that he wanted a movie to start with the end of the world, then work up to a climax. He would have approved of this movie.

    If you know anything about biotechnology, about computers and communications, or about the relative speeds of four-wheel drive vehicles and motor cycles, then lay in a supply of strong suspenders - you will need to suspend your disbelief. That said, however, this is a fun movie. Just don't expect it to be like the TV series. 

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer is disappointing, but not for the usual reasons.

    The movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness is excellent, and shadow detail is strong, which is really good, but there is quite a bit of low-level noise. It is particularly evident in the scenes in Seville, because there is plenty of black, but it is visible in several other scenes. Things that should be a nice inky black aren't - the black is shot with what looks like fine film grain, but is actually noise in the video signal. That's not to say that there isn't some film grain - there is a touch, but it's not a problem (to be honest, I don't mind a bit of film grain - I consider it part of the art).

    The colours are strong, with some fine reds and greens. The scenes at Randwick, particularly, are brightly coloured, but not over-saturated.

    There were a couple of spots where I thought I'd spotted a film artefact, but on rechecking each turned out to be a spot of light, instead. The film source used looks to be immaculate, but so it ought to be given that this movie was made last year.

    Aliasing is the other issue. We get our first aliasing problems in the first minute, on the edges of the injector gun, and it continues to be a problem throughout the film. There's plenty of Gibbs effect in the credits, too.

    At least I didn't notice any other MPEG artefacts.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted, with the layer change at 67:19. The change happens at a cut, and is rather well-hidden.



Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sound is better than the video.

    There are three soundtracks on this disc, all in English. We get the soundtrack in Dolby Digital 5.1 and in Dolby Surround, and a commentary track, also in Dolby Surround. I listened to the 5.1 soundtrack and the commentary. I sampled the main soundtrack in Dolby Surround, and it seemed fine. The 5.1 soundtrack seems to have been recorded a little quieter than normal, but I wonder if that might have been deliberate, to provide more dynamic range for the explosions.

    Dialogue is clear and intelligible at all times. 

    The score, by Hans Zimmer, is quite good. There are numerous places where it quotes the original Mission: Impossible theme - I suspect that is inevitable.

    The soundtrack is immersive. The surrounds are frequently active, and the subwoofer gets a serious workout. This is not a movie you can play late at night with someone asleep in the next room - they will be shaken out of bed. That's not necessarily a bad thing, either - it is perfect for this movie. 



Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu is well designed, and themed around IMF. There's a nice intro to each menu, and there's sound and animation for each. The designers went a little far with the names of the entries on the main menu, though:

Behind the Mission (13:52)

    This is a standard "making of" featurette - nothing special, just the usual self-congratulatory puff piece. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

Mission Incredible (4:58)

    This is another short featurette, supposedly "on the set", looking at some of the stunts - I'd suggest looking at the next extra instead. Some of the material overlaps with the first featurette. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

Impossible Shots (34:07)

    This is quite different. It is a presentation of 11 action sequences, selected one at a time. Each one is introduced by John Woo, and has comments from the stunt co-ordinator Brian Smrz. Each one shows the original storyboard and the stunt itself. This is quite interesting, especially the comments about how some of the scenes developed. There are a number of comments on how much of the stunt work Tom Cruise insisted on doing (most, if not all). It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

Music Video - Metallica (4:22)

    I'm not a fan. It's a music video.

Alternate Title Sequence (0:35)

    I didn't see much difference between this one and the one used.

Mission Improbable (6:21)

    This is a fairly silly piece made for the MTV Music Awards, featuring Tom Crooze (Ben Stiller), stand-in for Tom Cruise. It goes on about 5 minutes longer than the joke deserves.

Commentary - John Woo (Director)

    This commentary is not the best I've heard. That's a shame, because I like John Woo movies (mostly), and was looking forward to hearing what he had to say. Some of it was interesting, but he leaves lots of gaps.

DVD-ROM extras

    I didn't explore the DVD-ROM extras, but they look quite extensive.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 and Region 4 versions of this disc appear to be identically featured, but the reviews of the Region 1 disc comment on the excellent video transfer.

Summary

    This is a good action thriller, let down by a video transfer that is not as good as it should have been.

    The video quality is disappointing, at least on a big screen.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The extras are plentiful, and some are quite good.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Tuesday, July 24, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews NONE
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