Action Adventure

‘Mission: Impossible II’ 4K Ultra HD Review: John Woo Puts His Stamp on the Series’ Underrated Second Chapter

July 3, 2018Ben MK

A radically different cinematic beast than its predecessor, Mission: Impossible II forgoes the more cerebral elements of Brian De Palma's original for a flat-out explosive, more action-oriented approach. And who better to direct than action auteur John Woo?

In this second installment of the franchise, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) finds himself going up against a rogue, fellow IMF agent named Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott), who has impersonated Ethan in order to intercept a deadly biological weapon codenamed Chimera, killing the scientist who created it and slaughtering a plane full of civilians in the process. Teaming up once again with hacker Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), helicopter pilot Billy Baird (John Polson) and Ambrose's ex, professional thief Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandie Newton), Ethan must make his way to Sydney, Australia to recover the virus before Ambrose can sell it to the highest bidder — but is he willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to prevent the bio-weapon from falling into the wrong hands?

Although not without its flaws, Mission: Impossible II holds up surprisingly well, especially considering that it has long been regarded as the series' weakest entry. That's not to say that M:I-2 is a classic, but taken at face value, it's still an action-packed ride that delivers plenty of bang for the buck. And for fans of John Woo, who's currently working on an English-language remake of his landmark 1989 film, The Killer, it may not be the pinnacle of his work, but it's certainly far from unwatchable.

Like the first film, Mission: Impossible II benefits immensely from the upgrade to 4K, completely obliterating this sequel's decade-old Blu-ray release with a brand new 2160p transfer and a bombastic Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound mix. Image quality is appreciably nuanced and textured, revealing all the fine detail present in the close-up shots of the actors' faces, and the HDR color scheme is a perfect match for the movie's visual palette, which features no shortage of blue skies and picturesque landscapes, not to mention its fair share of neon-lit, high-security laboratories. Where this release truly shines, however, is with the new lossless audio, which makes for a genuine treat during M:I-2's bullet ballet sequences and its climactic motorcycle showdown.

Paramount's two-disc 4K Ultra HD release includes an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy and a Blu-ray copy of the film. Aside from the audio commentary, the following extras can be found on the Blu-ray:

  • Commentary by Director John Woo - Woo talks about what went into the making his first spy movie, from the cinematography and the visual effects, to the stunts, the actors' performances and more.
  • Behind the Mission (14:28) - A series of interviews with the cast and the filmmakers, as they talk about making M:I-2.
  • Mission Incredible (5:12) - A look at some of Tom Cruise's stunt work for the film.
  • Impossible Shots (34:17) - A behind-the-scenes look at the construction of eleven of the movie's more memorable sequences ("Moab," "Spanish Chase," "Assault on Biocyte," "Biocyte Escape," "Fire Walk," "Flame Ride," "Motorcycle Chase," "Asphalt Skiing," "The Joust," "Mano a Mano" and "Knife in the Eye").
  • I Disappear - Metallica (4:33) - A music video for the song featured in the film's closing credits.
  • Alternate Title Sequence (0:37)
  • Excellence in Film (9:15) - A montage of Cruise's work, as shown during the 2005 BAFTA Awards.
  • Generation: Cruise (3:36) - Another montage of Cruise's work, this time from the 2005 MTV Movie Awards.

Mission: Impossible II is available from Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment as of June 26th, 2018. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray features English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The total runtime is 2 hrs. 3 min.

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