'Mission Impossible (Special Collector's Edition)'
(Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, et al / DVD / PG-13 / (1996) 2006 / Paramount)
Overview: IMF agent Ethan Hunt has been sent on a mission to retrieve and destroy the supply of a genetically created disease called 'Chimera'. His mission is made impossible due to the fact that he is not the only person after samples of the disease. He must also contest with a gang of international terrorists headed by a turned bad former IMF agent who has already managed to steal the cure called 'Bellerophon' and now need 'Chimera' to complete their grand plan of infecting the whole world. In order to infiltrate and locate the terrorist group he relies on the help of an international thief Nyah of whom he quickly develops a love interest. Time is not only running out for Agent Hunt to find and destroy 'Chimera' before the terrorists get their hands on it, but he must also find 'Bellerophon' so as to save his love interest who has already become infected by the disease from a terrible and rapid death.
DVD Verdict: Brian De Palma is always an interesting director to follow, alternating between his personal pet projects ("Dressed To Kill, "Blow Out", "Femme Fatale", etc.) and gun-for-hire jobs ("The Untouchables", "Mission Impossible", the upcoming "The Black Dahlia", etc.). What's great about him is that he displays equal enthusiasm for both types of movies, always making sure he delivers a polished job with a handful of sit-up-and-take-notice sequences no matter the film in question. Remember the scene on the steps inside the train station in "The Untouchables"? With 'Mission Impossible', we get a complex but well told story with at least three bravura sequences: the ultimately disastrous embassy infiltration at the beginning, the infiltration of CIA headquarters, and the intrigue and impressive action sequence on the train at the end. In addition, between those bits we get some great tension-laced character scenes involving confrontations and our heroes trying to figure things out. As pointed out by one of the Amazon in-house reviews, there's indeed some sophisticated story telling going on here: I, too, loved how Ethan Hunt was saying one thing aloud to a dubious associate as Ethan pieces together what went wrong at the embassy, but in the flashback scenes seen over his voice we see what he really believes happened. Great stuff. "Mission Impossible", originally released in 1996, is also interesting in that you can see old ways giving way to new, both in the story and in the making of the movie. Story-wise, a few cell phones are seen, but there's still the need for characters to seek out a good old-fashioned pay phone here and there. In the making of the movie, CGI was clearly used in places (and capably), but model work, matte paintings, and other traditional effects techniques were still very much carrying the day. These story and film-making elements therefore give "Mission Impossible" a simultaneous modern and retro feel that's unique and kind of fun. I've read some criticism that this new 10th anniversary re-release of the film doesn't feature a new remastered DVD print but the same mastering job Paramount has used on all previous DVDs of this movie. That may be the case, but I have to say that my newly-purchased DVD features a clean, sharp print with vibrant colors. Maybe the movie doesn't need to be re-mastered yet. Alas, there's no director's commentary here, but otherwise the DVD's special features section is loaded with interesting stuff. This is a Widscreen Presentation (1:78.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Mission: Remarkable: 40 years of creating the impossible
Mission: Explosive Exploits
Mission: Spies Among Us
Mission: Catching the Train
Mission: International Spy Museum
Mission: Agent Dossiers
Tribute Montages: Excellence in Film: Cruise, Generation: Cruise
Mission: Impossible Theatrical Trailer and Teaser
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)