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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol

April 15th, 2012

Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack

The Mission: Impossible franchise has been in theaters since 1996. It's rare for a movie franchise to last that long, and even rarer for the latest installment to feel fresh. For instance, I was disappointed in the third installment, outside of the introduction of Simon Pegg's character and a few smaller parts of the film. On the other hand, the film's reviews were better than the first two, so I am in the minority opinion there. Many think Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol is the best the franchise has to offer. Will I agree? Or will I go against the majority opinion again?

The Movie

The film begins with a mission in Budapest that ends in a lot of death, including the agent we were following. We then move to Moscow where Benju Dunn is messing around with the security in a prison helping one of the prisoners escape. After Jane Carter is in position, he opens the door to Ethan Hunt, but he refuses to leave until they also free a fellow prisoner, Bogdan (Miraj Grbic), who has some important evidence.

They were sent to aid in Ethan Hunt's prison escape, because of the mission that went wrong in the prologue. Trevor Hanaway, the agent who was killed, was sent to retrieve a file containing Russian nuclear launch codes, codes that a rogue Russian codenamed Cobalt was looking for. Cobalt is determined to launch a nuclear weapon and the assassin who killed Hanaway, Sabine Moreau, worked for Cobalt in the past, so he's suddenly become the most dangerous man on the planet. The only way to find out Cobalt's real identity is to break into the Kremlin's secure file room, but Cobalt is on his way to destroy those files as well, so they don't have much time. Turns out they don't have enough time. Not only does Cobalt beat them there, but he detonates a bomb that destroys the Kremlin, and Ethan Hunt and his team are framed for the attack.

Ethan Hunt is captured by Anatoly Sidirov, but manages to escape and contact the IMF for extraction. None other than the IMF Secretary is there to meet him, along with his chef analyst, William Brandt, who is able to identify the person Ethan Hunt saw and whom he thinks is Cobalt as Kurt Hendricks. The Secretary informs Ethan Hunt that the president has initiated Ghost Protocol and the IMF, all of its agents, have been disavowed. The Secretary is to take Ethan Hunt back to the United States and charge him as a rogue agent, unless Ethan Hunt escapes and tracks down the real perpetrators of these attacks.

Before this can happen, Sidirov's men attack and the Secretary is killed before Ethan Hunt and William Brandt can escape. After meeting up with Benju Dunn and Jane Carter, the four of them have to stop Sabine Moreau from selling the launch codes to Kurt Hendricks, who is looking to start a nuclear war to help push the next step of evolution.

That's a good place to stop the plot summary. So how is the movie? Well, there were a couple of scenes in which there were attempts to make the action a little more tense with the addition of a complication that should have been there. (While climbing the outside of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, one of Ethan Hunt's climbing gloves failed and then moments after that, the machine that creates the lifelike masks fails. It was unnecessary and hurt an otherwise great scene. Also, the main cast didn't have a lot of chemistry together, which is troubling, as they were playing a team of secret agents, and they needed to feel like a team.

On the other hand, those were the only two complaints I had. The action scenes are fantastic, especially the aforementioned Burj Khalifa scene, even with the issues I mentioned. The overall plot is quite stellar with more than enough twists and turns, while it works enough that you can overlook the coincidences that creep up. Simon Pegg adds much needed humor to the film and its his scenes that prevent the movie from taking itself too seriously or becoming too formulaic. It might even be the best action film of 2011. (It depends on if you considered Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II an action film or an adventure film, while X-Men: First Class and Attack the Block are also in competition for that label.)

The Extras

The two-disc Blu-ray has no extras on the first disc, but the second one has a three-part, 48-minute making of featurette, Mission Accepted, that focuses on the location shots, starting with Suiting Up In Prague, then moving to Heating Up In Dubai, and finishing in Vancouver Fisticuffs. Impossible Missions has nearly a dozen parts and runs just over 50 minutes and focuses on the numerous stunt scenes in the movie. Finally, there are eight deleted / alternate scenes with optional audio commentary by Brad Bird.

On a side note, I have the Canadian version of the Blu-ray, which is apparently the same as the Best Buy exclusive in the United States. The non-exclusive Blu-ray only has two of the three parts of Mission Accepted and only two of the eleven parts for Impossible Missions, while the DVD only has the deleted scenes and the two Impossible Missions featurettes.

The audio and video can both be described as reference level material. In fact, the only issue I can come up with with regards to the video is the aspect ratio. The film had two theatrical versions and the IMAX version had a different aspect ratio for some key scenes. The Blu-ray uses the 2.35:1 for the entire running. As for the audio, this is a Blu-ray you can use to show off your home theater setup.

The Blu-ray costs 42% more than the DVD. There are exclusive extras on the Blu-ray and the video and audio is worth the upgrade, but grabbing it from Best Buy is the better deal. On the other hand, I really hate exclusive releases like this, so supporting the practice might be the wrong way to go in the long run.

The Verdict

Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol is the best installment in the franchise and arguably the best action film of 2011. The DVD is worth a rental if you only want to see it once, while the Blu-ray Combo Pack is worth picking up. I just wish there wasn't two versions out there.

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Filed under: Video Review, Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol