Release Date(s)2015 (June 26, 2018)
Studio(s)Bad Robot/Skydance/TC Productions/Alibaba (Paramount)
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: A-
It’s almost inconceivable to think that Paramount’s big screen Mission: Impossible franchise is nearly twenty years old now. It’s even more difficult to believe that the franchise has actually gotten better with age. Nevertheless, the proof is clear. Brad Bird’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011) was a rip-roaring good action film and the biggest box office success of the series to that point. Four years later, in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, director Chris McQuarrie has delivered the best entry in the franchise bar none. Not only is this a great spy film, with deftly-staged action sequences, if this were a Bond film it would be the best entry in that series since Casino Royale (2006). Notably, it puts the recent SPECTRE to shame. (EON Productions should be paying close attention.)
Set in Ghost Protocol’s aftermath, Rogue Nation finds the IMF being called to account by Congress for their seemingly reckless actions in the previous film. Upon the recommendation of CIA director Hunley (Alec Baldwin), the IMF is officially disbanded, but not before Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team uncover evidence of their greatest adversary yet… a mysterious criminal organization known as The Syndicate. As Benji (Simon Pegg) suggests in the film, The Syndicate is a kind of anti-IMF bent on spreading chaos and destruction around the world… and Hunt is determined to stop them or die trying. Naturally, Benji, Brandt, and Luther (the latter played once again by Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames) are unwilling to let the CIA prevent them from assisting Hunt in this effort. The far greater complication for the team arises in the form of a female Syndicate operative named Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who is every bit Hunt’s match and whose loyalties are unclear.
There’s so much to like about Rogue Nation. First of all, it churns along at a brisk clip, but never seems rushed. Without spoiling any of the film’s set pieces (except to say this: There’s an opera sequence! Who doesn’t love a great opera sequence in a spy film?), they’re wonderfully designed and inventive, not to mention beautifully directed and edited. For all the work that’s clearly gone into crafting them, what’s most impressive is the realization that this is really just accomplished filmmaking – the kind of old-school creation of suspense on screen that Hitchcock himself would appreciate. Once again, Cruise does all his own stunts and that actually does matter, as it sells the reality of the danger in each sequence beautifully. The regular cast delivers great performances across the board, and they’re all well used. This is a true ensemble, with everyone making an important contribution. The script is sly in tone, playing everything straight and yet never quite taking itself completely seriously. There’s much humor here that arises out of genuine character interactions, and the actors deliver just the right hint of eye-twinkle to punctuate each moment. The new additions to the cast comport themselves well too. Baldwin is wonderful here as both adversary and reluctant ally, Sean Harris is a perfectly convicing and effective movie villain, and Ferguson is a genuine discovery. She goes toe-to-toe with Cruise in this film from beginning to end, both in action and acting, and she makes you damn well believe she can. She’s simply terrific.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation was shot both digitally in ARRIRAW (at 3.4 and 6.5K) and on 35 mm film using ARRI Alexa, Arriflex, and Panavision cameras with anamorphic lenses. It was finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate, upsampled for this release, graded for high dynamic range in both HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and is presented here at the original 2.39:1 theatrical aspect ratio. There is a modest increase in fine detail from the Blu-ray edition (which already had fine image quality), but the real benefit here is the HDR and wide color gamut, which offer darker blacks, bolder brights, and more natural highlights. Colors are much richer and more nuanced as well. There’s a constant wash of moderate grain texturing throughout, which lends the image a nicely cinematic quality. You appreciate all of these things when the films begins to move from one exotic location to another, but they shine especially in the Turandot sequence. This is not as big an upgrade as the first two films in this series in 4K (reviewed here: M:I and M:I-2), but it’s still one that fans will appreciate.
Audio on the 4K disc is offered in the same lossless English Dolby Atmos mix that was included on the previous Blu-ray edition, which featured outstanding clarity and dynamics with amble bass. The sound field is pleasingly big, wide, and tall, with precise staging, smooth movement, and a wonderfully full sound. The height channels kick in during all the expected set pieces, but you’ll appreciate the subtle immersion they provide in quieter moments too. Composer Joe Kraemer adds the Lalo Schifrin-inspired score this time, and kicks things up a notch with the opera musicians as well. Additional sound options include English Audio Description, along with 5.1 Dolby Digital in German, Spanish, Latin Spanish, French, Canadien French, Italian, and Brazilian Portuguese, with optional subtitles available in English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Danish, German, Spanish, Latin Spanish, French, Canadien French, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Brazilian Portuguese, Finnish, and Swedish.
In terms of bonus features, there’s a bit of very good news to report. More on that in a minute. Paramount’s 4K disc includes one audio-based extra:
- Audio Commentary by Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie
This is the same commentary that was on the previous Blu-ray release. Of course, the package also includes that Blu-ray, with the film in 1080p HD, the audio commentary, and the following documentary extras (all in HD):
- Lighting the Fuse (5:57)
- Cruise Control (6:33)
- Heroes… (8:06)
- Cruising Altitude (8:23)
- Mission: Immersible (6:45)
- Sand Theft Auto (5:35)
- The Missions Continue (7:08)
It’s solid material, content-wise, and contains much that’s interesting and substantial, even if it’s broken up into shorter chunks. The problem, as many fans will know, is that this isn’t all of the special features that were created for the film. When it was originally released on Blu-ray, Target had a retail exclusive bonus disc with over an hour of additional material. This, in short, was infuriating. So back to that good news: This 4K edition includes a second Blu-ray disc that is that Target bonus disc. It adds the following content (again, all in HD):
- Lighting the Fuse (5:57)*
- Cruise Control (6:33)*
- Heroes… (8:06)*
- …And Rogues (5:43)
- Top Crews (6:40)
- Travel Agents (5:47)
- Opera-Tion Turnadot (4:16)
- Practically Impossible (5:59)
- Stunts (5 segments – 30:20 in all)
- Cut! (7:17)
- Variations on a Theme (4:50)
- The Missions Continue (7:08)*
The four items marked with an ‘*’ are obviously duplicated on both discs. But the rest will be new to most of you and it’s all good stuff. The Practically Impossible and Stunts material is a highlight (it’s stunning how many of the stunts and effects are done in-camera here, not just big things but little things too), but really you’ll want to watch it all. You may still wish for deleted scenes and trailers when you’re done, but this is a much better special features experience now than before. Tip of the hat to Paramount for doing this. I hope they continue it with other 4K releases for films that had retail exclusive material. It gives fans another strong reason to upgrade to Ultra HD. Don’t forget, you also get a Digital Copy code on a paper insert in the packaging, which comes in its own cardboard slipcover.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is a terrific example of what a great modern spy movie can be. Against all odds, every single aspect of this film works to near perfection. Rogue Nation is smart, thrilling, funny… and a tremendous amount of fun. This is a straight-up great film. Thankfully, Paramount’s new 4K disc presents it in top A/V quality and adds substance to the extras too, making this an easy-to-recommend upgrade. If you love this genre like we do here at The Bits, absolutely do not miss it.
- Bill Hunt