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Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015) movie poster Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

Theatrical Release: July 31, 2015 / Running Time: 132 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Christopher McQuarrie / Writers: Christopher McQuarrie (story & screenplay), Drew Pearce (story)

Cast: Tom Cruise (Ethan Hunt), Jeremy Renner (William Brandt), Simon Pegg (Benji Dunn), Rebecca Ferguson (Ilsa Faust), Ving Rhames (Luther Stickell), Sean Harris (Solomon Lane), Simon McBurney (Atlee), Zhang Jingchu (Lauren), Tom Hollander (Prime Minister), Jens Hultén (Janik "Bone Doctor" Vinter), Alec Baldwin (Alan Hunley), Hermione Corfield (Record Shop Girl), America Olivo (Turandot), Robert Maaser (Officer Assassin), Wolfgang Stegemann (Flautist Assassin)

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Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD • DVD • Instant Video • 5 Movie Blu-ray + Digital HD Collection

When first announced,
a fourth Mission: Impossible struck many, myself included, as an unnecessary sequel and a desperate attempt by a tired franchise to keep Tom Cruise in possession of movie star status when nothing else could. That 2011 installment ended up surprising. Not only did it demonstrate that Brad Bird could indeed direct live action, but it revitalized the spy action series based on the '60s TV show by grossing over $200 million domestically and nearly $700 million worldwide, buoyed in part by an aggressive IMAX campaign at a time when audiences were tiring of 3D.

That hit Christmastime fourquel restored some of the spring to Cruise's step. While Rock of Ages, which downplayed his involvement, bombed, Cruise rebounded with 2012's well-received star vehicle Jack Reacher. Then rather than being an underperforming tentpole, the sci-fi movie Oblivion became an off-season surprise in the spring of 2013. Then, summer 2015's Edge of Tomorrow overcame a generic title, an unpromising marketing campaign, and a tepid third place opening to narrowly surpass the $100 M domestic mark that Cruise spent most of the '90s and 2000s crossing.

Now, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, the fifth and latest chapter of Cruise's only saga, doesn't feel like a last-ditch clutch to recreate past glory but a potentially highly enjoyable addition to a fun franchise with some life to it.

Christopher McQuarrie, who wrote Cruise's Valkyrie, Edge of Tomorrow, and Jack Reacher (which he also directed), becomes the fifth man to take the helm of this series, directing from his own screenplay based on a story by him and Iron Man 3's Drew Pearce. McQuarrie has flipped the script of his own career, overcoming the stigma of being a one-hit wonder for his Oscar-winning second screenplay (The Usual Suspects) to reinvent himself as someone who could work well with Cruise and keep the actor a popular icon for a fourth consecutive decade. Rogue Nation extends the winning streaks of both the star and the series. It consistently offers a good time, whether or not you remember more than fragments of it by the time the inevitable next sequel comes around.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) clings to the side of an in-flight airplane in the dynamic opening sequence of "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation."

Like its predecessors, Rogue Nation is chock-full of action. Its opening scene provides its first of many set pieces, this one seeing Ethan Hunt (Cruise) jumping on a plane to relieve it and its Chechen operators of the stolen weapons onboard. Hunt's top secret organization, the Impossible Missions Force (IMF), is soon dissolved over incendiary allegations from a disapproving CIA director (Alec Baldwin). The IMF's claims of a network evil called The Syndicate are questioned and ridiculed. The gang is broken up, with William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) being asked to testify before Senate and tech expert Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) being subjected to weekly polygraph tests at his boring desk job.

Of course, we know that the Syndicate is real. We see our proof in a London record store, where Ethan gets a message taunting him while his contact is killed before his eyes by a mystery figure (Sean Harris). Ethan finds a reluctant ally in Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson), a formidable young woman whose allegiances are always in doubt. Tickets to the Vienna State Opera House bring Benji back into touch with Ethan. While Benji scours the concert's crowd for the mystery killer, Ethan tries to stop an assassination attempt.

As always, the specifics of the action may not mean a whole lot at the end of the movie. What does matter is that the movie conveys its stakes and gives you enough to follow along knowing an immediate goal. The series' signature action sequences could potentially seem old-fashioned amidst the fantastical visual effects-driven antics of its contemporaries being served on a practically weekly basis in summer. When staged as creatively and authentically as these, though, such stunts easily get your adrenaline pumping and your heart racing. Probably the best set piece of all is an underwater mission, in which Ethan must hold his breath for more than three full minutes in order to infiltrate an extremely secure facility housing an incriminating Flash drive that our villain desperately wants. We weave between Ethan dodging machinery and braving strong water pressure and Benji, who needs Ethan's work to succeed to not meet a swift, painful death during a security scan.

Tech expert Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) does more than just feature as comic relief.

Other scenes, like a Moroccan car chase turned motorcycle dash, look nice and keep the film exciting. There really isn't a lull to be found as our heroes repeatedly cheat death by narrowly outwitting the lethal opposition. The only fault you can find with the movie is that there is too much of it.
Trim ten minutes out of the movie's final half-hour and you'd have the textbook definition of a near-perfect 2015 action movie. Even if the film slightly overstays its welcome, it seems effortlessly more involving and investable than its contemporaries of the same genre most of the time. You'd think that seeing Tom Cruise trying to elude, outsmart, and knock out bad guys who always outnumber him would eventually lose its appeal. Somehow, it doesn't, with Cruise in his fifties still looking like an action hero with his shirtless scene-conducive physique, impossibly full head of gray-free hair, and evident willingness to embrace death-defying stunts fearlessly.

You may not be able to remember the specifics of Rogue Nation's plot for more than a few weeks and yet you will remember how much fun you had letting it take you on its ride of high-octane spy action for which there is clearly still a place in today's CGI and green screen-heavy Hollywood.

After drawing near-universal praise from critics, Rogue Nation went on to enjoy box office success, grossing $195 million domestic and $682 M worldwide, down slightly from the previous outing but still at heights that fewer than ten films a year reach.

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish, Portuguese, Descriptive Video Service),
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish, Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish, Portuguese; BD movie-only: English for Hearing Impaired
DVD Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: December 15, 2015
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (1 BD-50 & 1 DVD-9)
Blue Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($29.99 SRP), Amazon Instant Video, and in • The 5 Movie Collection Blu-ray + Digital HD

VIDEO and AUDIO

Even since the early days of DVD, Paramount has consistently put out some of the sharpest-looking discs around. Needless to say, they haven't dropped the ball on their biggest hit of 2015. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation looks great on Blu-ray. It also boasts potent sound in the default 7.1-channel Dolby Atmos/TrueHD mix. There's nothing to keep this from being one of the year's most dynamic cinematic experiences.

Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie discusses his latest collaboration with Tom Cruise. Bonus features place the film within the context of the franchise with clips from the four predecessors.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Rogue Nation Blu-ray's extras begin with an audio commentary by Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie. Running through the end of the long end credits scroll, their commentary finds the right blend of light-hearted reflection and real inside information. The chat is screen-specific and plenty informative. The film's runtime may
make it a bit of an endurance challenge for those not crazy about the format. But those wanting to know all about this movie and its evolution get to do so here. Completists may be bummed by references to numerous sequences being cut or trimmed coupled with the lack of a Deleted Scenes section.

On the video side, where all is encoded in HD, we get a series of short making-of featurettes, which make suitable use of clips from past installments.

Things kick off with "Lighting the Fuse" (5:57), which addresses the sequel's story and its conception.

"Cruise Control" (6:33) celebrates the star-producer and his extensive creative input.

"Heroes..." (8:06) discusses the characters new and old who have our sympathy in this outing.

"Cruising Altitude" (8:23) turns our attentions to the film's standout stunt, showing us just how Tom Cruise really did ride on the outside of a plane and all the things that had to be considered to pull it off.

"Mission: Immersible" (6:45) deconstructs another big set piece, Cruise and Ferguson's extended underwater scene, with plenty of behind-the-scenes footage.

Fearless Tom Cruise goes for a motorcycle ride through Morocco sans helmet in "Sand Theft Auto." Swedish leading lady Rebecca Ferguson has some thoughts to share from the set.

"Sand Theft Auto" (5:35) gives notice to another one of the film's big action sequences: Cruise's high-speed, helmetless motorcycle ride.

The extras conclude with "The Missions Continue" (7:08),
which looks at the series through five films, with clips finding links and callbacks between the movies.

Could these have all formed one 50-minute or so documentary? Sure. But they are focused enough to benefit from being presented as so.

Per Paramount's present policies, the DVD is completely void of extras, aside from auto-playing trailers for 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Terminator Genisys, and the first four Mission: Impossible movies. They're followed by an anti-tobacco spot. All four items repeat when selecting the menu's Previews listing. (As usual, the Blu-ray tries to stream some current ads, but may or may not succeed at that.)

Naturally and fittingly, the high-tech main menu moves clips and stills across the screen while the iconic theme plays. Like other Paramount BDs, this one supports bookmarking but does not automatically resume unfinished playback.

The plain blue Blu-ray and gray DVD share an eco-friendly keepcase with an insert with your Digital HD with UltraViolet code and a second supplying a code to download in Digital HD one of the first four movies for free. The case is topped by a standard glossy slipcover.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) tries to prevent an assassination attempt during a concert at the Vienna State Opera House.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Whereas most film franchises are crippled by fatigue should they make it to a fifth installment, Mission: Impossible just seems to be hitting its stride. With its exciting plotting and fearless old school stunts, this fifth episode is a great deal of fun and more enjoyable than nearly any other big action movie this year.

Paramount's Blu-ray combo pack does not really surprise, but its commentary, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and first-rate picture and sound all make it a release easy to recommend to viewers and collectors of most ages.

Buy Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD / Instant Video / 5 Movie Blu-ray + Digital HD Collection

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Related Reviews:
New to Blu-ray: Ant-Man • The Man from U.N.C.L.E. • Avengers: Age of Ultron
Tom Cruise: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol • Oblivion • Top Gun • Knight and Day • Vanilla Sky • Rock of Ages
Written and Directed by Christopher McQuarrie and Starring Tom Cruise: Jack Reacher
Written by Christopher McQuarrie: Edge of Tomorrow • Jack the Giant Slayer • The Tourist • The Usual Suspects
Written by Drew Pearce: Iron Man 3 | Now in Theaters: Ant-Man • Terminator Genisys • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Simon Pegg: Hot Fuzz • The World's End | Jeremy Renner: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters • American Hustle • Avengers: Age of Ultron
Salt • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows • Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit • This Means War • Survivor

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Reviewed December 26, 2015.



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